Dr. Henry “Barney” Barnett obtained his Medical Degree from the University of Toronto in 1944. Dr. Barnett is best known for directing many of the most important large multi-centered clinical trials in stroke; including the first randomized trial to show that aspirin prevents stroke. Supported by the NIH of the United States, Dr. Barnett showed that a then widely used surgical treatment for stroke patients involving carotid artery bypass was less effective than good medical treatment. Dr. Barnett’s medical work has been widely recognized. He is a Companion of the Order of Canada and in 2012 he received an Honourary Doctorate from Oxford University.
Dr. Barnett’s other passion in life has been a huge appreciation of natural history, in particular birds. He befriended the famous Royal Ontario Museum Ornithologist Jim Baillie at the age of 12 and he stayed lifelong friends with his mentor. “Barney” often recounts how his own father had no understanding of his son’s outdoor interests and would not entertain any postsecondary thoughts by Barney to enter ornithology. As a result, Barney pursued medicine as a career, but was always finding means of exploring new natural history haunts while he travelled the world professionally.
In 1959 Barney and his lovely wife Kathleen (Kay) purchased property in the Happy Valley Forest, just north of Toronto. This led to six decades of immense pleasure as their family explored the very rich flora and fauna in the area. When the Nature Conservancy of Canada began to pursue a strong interest in conservation of the Happy Valley Forest, they readily found a champion in Barney as he turned his fundraising and other persuasive abilities from medical research to conservation.
Dr. Barnett was a long-time friend of NCC and a driving force in the conservation efforts at the Happy Valley Forest. We were saddened to hear of his passing on October 24, 2016. We offer his family our deepest condolences.