As the first private C. Ped (C) in Nova Scotia, Freeman Churchill has been in the pedorthic profession for a long time. When attending the AGM 4 years ago with Murray Wood, who he has known from the beginning, he remembers with a laugh that “Murray looked around and said ‘Hey, where are the old guys?’ and I said ‘Murray, we’re the old guys!’”.
Born in Brandon, MB, raised in Yarmouth, NS , and now living in Halifax, NS , Freeman completed his first degree in Recreation at Acadia University before moving to Dalhousie University to do his Kinesiology degree. A strong believer that people should be as active as possible, he was a keen hiker and runner. Having already run one marathon in PEI, he was encouraged by other runners in Nova Scotia to train for another, but found that he couldn’t do over 30 miles a week without injury. Keen to stay active and to find a solution to his injury woes, in 1979 Freeman met Dr. Bob Stalker, a key medical adviser in the early days of PAC. With his first pair of orthotics made by Bob, Freeman quickly increased his training from 30 miles a week to 60 miles. Qualifying for the 1981 Boston Marathon, Freeman ran an impressive time of 2 hours 34 minutes and has now completed a total of 14 marathons in his running career.
Having experienced first hand the successful impact of orthotics on his life, Freeman was encouraged by Dr. Stalker to help him at the Nova Scotia Sport Medicine Clinic with athletes and orthotics. In 1983, he moved from working at the running shoe store, Aerobics First, to working at the Clinic full time. Orthotics East, a collaboration with Lisa Irish, was formed in February 1986, with what Freeman notes were “the most rudimentary of tools”. Using just a flat grinder and employing duct tape to hold insole modification together, Freeman concedes that “it was really the simplest beginnings you could ever imagine”.
From so simple a beginning, Freeman’s career and those of the many people he has affected, has blossomed. Embracing the concept of ‘paying it forward’, Freeman has welcomed many future C. Ped (C)s and C. Ped Techs into the practice, just as Dr. Bob Stalker welcomed him. He and his team would teach students about pedorthics and orthotics and help to get them qualified. Because he enjoys every day of his work, Freeman considers himself “one of the lucky people” and passes that enthusiasm on to
all those who work with him. On a national level, Freeman has had an impact on a lot of PAC members, serving as Director and President of PAC and sitting on the committee of the College.
Pedorthics has not only given Freeman success in his career and outdoor pursuits; it’s also an important part of his home life. Freeman met his wife Elaine, who is an occupational therapist, while she was on an orthopaedic rotation in 1984. Living in Halifax since marrying in 1985, they now have four children; three of which, Freeman proudly notes, are also entering health professions.