When Dr. Bob Cram first started his orthodontics practice in Red Deer

When Dr. Bob Cram first started his orthodontics practice in Red Deer

A career of dogged determination

When Dr. Bob Cram first started his orthodontics practice in Red Deer, he had no idea his first patient would have four legs.

When Dr. Bob Cram first started his orthodontics practice in Red Deer, he had no idea his first patient would have four legs.

But when he first set up shop in 1980, Cram was contacted by the Cedarwood Vet Clinic to put a set of braces on a German Shepherd.

“That was a bit rocky,” said Cram. “The practice has gone to the dogs already.

“I got a call and the guy asked me if I was Bob Cram the new orthodontist. I said yeah, and he said ‘want to do braces on a dog.’”

Cram said he would call the guy back and looked the number up in the phone book to find out who was making the call. After discovering it was a legitimate request he returned the call.

“It was a German Shepherd with a really bad bite,” said Cram. “So we did braces on him and fixed him up in about two months.”

At the time in 1980 his office wasn’t yet finished and he didn’t have any patients, so he took what work he could. Cram said over the course of his career he worked on about a dozen dogs.

Eventually his practice would grow to include humans and over the next 30-plus years Cram would put braces on the teeth of many Red Deerians, something he loved to do.

“It was a fun experience, I just loved going to work,” said Cram. “I was very blessed with quite a few long-term staff, it becomes almost a family thing when you’re doing second or third generation patients it is a hoot.”

But it wasn’t always this way. Growing up in Indian Head, Sask. Cram himself was told he needed braces and headgear. But he was stubborn and didn’t behave, and being as there was only one orthodontist he had access to, he was kicked out.

“I didn’t comply and I got turfed,” said Cram. “I wasn’t behaving. A number of years later a different orthodontist came to Saskatchewan and I ended up going to him and having re-treatment.”

As Cram grew up he realized that becoming an orthodontist was a career path that spoke to him. º“I thought, this is what I wanted to do,” said Cram. “I want to work with my hands and I want to work with people this age.”

When he made the decision to pursue this career he had no idea how long it would take. Eleven years of university later, Cram completed the “brutal” journey and got into the business.

He went to the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon for both his Bachelors of Science, pre-dentistry, and his Doctor of Dental Medicine, from 1966 to 1975. After spending a couple of years in Saskatchewan going into schools and doing the dentistry for children under a provincial public health program, he enrolled in the MCID (Orthodontics) program at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ont.

“I knew I wanted to go back to orthodontics,” said Cram. “Dentistry was kind of something I had to do to get to orthodontics.”

Before he started his practice in Red Deer he taught at the dentistry school and the University of Saskatchewan.

The story of how he ended up in Red Deer started back when he was taking dentistry in school. During the summer his job was to drive the Greyhound bus from Edmonton to Calgary.

“I rolled through Red Deer a few times and thought, hey this is a nice sized place,” said Cram. “Being from Saskatchewan there is no way on God’s green earth I was going to go to Edmonton or Calgary.”

As he was teaching he decided he would rather do and not just teach. He came out to Red Deer and started his practice in 1980. For the next 33 years he practiced in Red Deer.

Cram was very involved in the Canadian Association of Orthodontists during his career, even becoming its president for a term from 2008 to 2009.

“I really miss the contact with the patients,” said Cram. “It’s a fun experience, it’s not painful anymore and I had a needle phobia so 33 years of never giving a needle was just fine with me.”

As someone who didn’t initially enjoy the experience of getting braces, Cram said it made it easier to relate to the young people who were his patients.

“The only stress in the office is really at the front desk with the parents paying the receptionist,” said Cram.

Cram was not just an orthodontist in the community. He was an active member of the Red Deer Flying Club. But the interest in flying started in the early 1980s when Cram and his accountant started taking lessons. They took their lessons over two years and ended up buying a plane from the flying school together with three partners.

Eventually the group ended up having three different planes. Now that he lives out in Qualicum Beach, B.C. he recently sold one of the planes he was a partner on and is looking to get into the activity on the coast.

Cram said flying was a bit like orthodontics in that you had to plan everything and be meticulous, while being different enough that it is very relaxing to fly.

An ulterior motive for Cram was getting to see his beloved Saskatchewan Roughriders easily.

“What would you prefer to do? An eight and a half hour drive or a two and a half hour flight,” said Cram.

Cram would fly to about six Riders games a year. But sometimes he wouldn’t fly back. One year he won the flying club’s Greyhound award, which is given to the person who makes the most one-way flights.

“The point being, that is when most of the accidents occur,” said Cram. “When people push the weather. You would never fly into that weather going to the game, you wouldn’t go if the weather was bad. You have to be disciplined enough.”

Though Cram has chosen to retire to B.C. he said he will miss his friends and the organizations he was a part of in Red Deer.

“Red Deer is a great place to raise a family,” said Cram. “I have two kids and we had a great time. It was a fabulous experience.”

mcrawford@bprda.wpengine.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

City of Red Deer says its roundabouts have sharply reduced the number of injury collisions at a pair of busy intersections. Alberta Transportation wants to incorporate five roundabouts into plans to twin Highway 11 from Sylvan Lake to Rocky Mountain House. Photo by PAUL COWLEY/Advocate staff
Highway 11 roundabouts will increase safety based on Red Deer’s experience

Injury collisions sharply reduced at roundabout intersections in city

As of Friday, Alberta has under 10,000 active COVID-19 cases. (Image courtesy CDC)
One new COVID-19 death in Red Deer, Alberta under 10,000 active cases

Alberta reported an additional 643 COVID-19 cases Friday. The province now has… Continue reading

About 110 students from Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools participated in March for Life rally in Edmonton May 9. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Red Deer high school has COVID-19 case

St. Joseph High School in Red Deer confirmed a positive COVID-19 case… Continue reading

Lacombe High School logo.
Two more COVID-19 cases at Lacombe Composite High School

Lacombe Composite High School confirmed two more positive COVID-19 cases at the… Continue reading

World Juniors’ referee Mike Langin makes a called during the Canada vs. Slovakia at the 2021 World Junior Championship at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Dec. 27, 2020. (Photo by Matthew Murnaghan/Hockey Canada)
Former Sylvan Lake man lives his dream at World Junior Championships

Mike Langin was one the 25 Canadian officials who worked during the tournament

Former Alberta Premier Rachel Notley shakes hands with Joel Ward, former Red Deer College President and CEO, as Notley announces that the college is on the path to grant degrees. Red Deer-South MLA Jason Stephan says university status is not a necessary condition for offering degrees. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Future of Red Deer University increasingly uncertain

MLA’s college update says RDC more like SAIT and NAIT than a university

There are two confirmed COVID-19 cases at Red Deer College. Photo by Mamta Lulla/Advocate staff
Central Albertans were promised a university

Central Albertans were promised a university

FILE - Baseball Hall of Famer Hank Aaron sits for a portrait after receiving his COVID-19 vaccination at the Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, in this Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021, file photo. Hank Aaron, who endured racist threats with stoic dignity during his pursuit of Babe Ruth but went on to break the career home run record in the pre-steroids era, died early Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. He was 86. The Atlanta Braves said Aaron died peacefully in his sleep. No cause of death was given. (AP Photo/Ron Harris, File)
Hank Aaron, baseball’s one-time home run king, dies at 86

Hank Aaron, baseball’s one-time home run king, dies at 86

Miami Heat guard Duncan Robinson (55) passes the ball around Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet (23) during the second half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 22, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Powell, Raptors regroup after blowing lead, beat Heat 101-81

Powell, Raptors regroup after blowing lead, beat Heat 101-81

Tavares scores winner on power play, Leafs beat Oilers 4-2

Tavares scores winner on power play, Leafs beat Oilers 4-2

David Shoemaker, chief executive officer of the Canadian Olympic Committee, speaks during the Olympic Partnership kick off event at the Sobey's office in Mississauga, Ont. on Monday, October 7, 2019. Shoemaker says the IOC remains committed to staging the Summer Games in Tokyo this summer.THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Tijana Martin
Canada’s Olympic athletes try to tune out reports six months from Games

Canada’s Olympic athletes try to tune out reports six months from Games

Toronto FC captain Michael Bradley lifts the Voyageurs Cup after beating Vancouver Whitecaps 5-2 to win the Canadian Championship Final in Toronto on Wednesday, August 15, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
Forge FC-Toronto FC Canadian Championship final to be played before April 6

Forge FC-Toronto FC Canadian Championship final to be played before April 6

Canada's Penny Oleksiak reacts after her heat of the women's 50m butterfly at the World Swimming Championships in Gwangju, South Korea, Friday, July 26, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Lee Jin-man
Penny Oleksiak, Kylie Masse among six swimmers named early to Canadian Olympic team

Penny Oleksiak, Kylie Masse among six swimmers named early to Canadian Olympic team

Ontario skip Glenn Howard watches a rock as they play Newfoundland and Labrador in draw 15 action at the Tim Hortons Brier curling championship at Mile One Centre in St. John's on Thursday, March 9, 2017. Curling Canada has decided to use the national ranking system as its selection criteria for the final wild-card berths at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts and Tim Hortons Brier.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Canadian rankings to be used to determine final wild-card spots at Scotties and Brier

Canadian rankings to be used to determine final wild-card spots at Scotties and Brier

Most Read