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

Just Posted

(Advocate file photo)
Man charged following police chases last summer is sentenced

Alexander Michael Talbot sentenced to 22 months in prison

COVID-19 test kit. (Black Press Media file photo)
Red Deer businesses can order COVID testing kits from the Chamber

Kits are being provided through a partnership with the Alberta government

(Advocate file photo)
Pastor, candidate under restraining order arrested for allegedly breaking COVID laws

CALGARY — A Calgary mayoral candidate who is under a restraining order… Continue reading

Pro-Palestinian protesters run from police following a demonstration in Montreal, Sunday, May 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Tensions flare at Israel-Palestinian demonstrations in Montreal, Toronto

Tensions ran high at competing demonstrations over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in both… Continue reading

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, then-vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, participates in a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. An expert in military affairs says the sudden departure of the  general in charge of Canada's vaccine rollout is unlikely to have any impact on the high-profile program. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Canada to get 4.5M vaccine doses as questions swirl around immunization effort

OTTAWA — Canada is set to receive a large infusion of COVID-19… Continue reading

Mayor Rick Bonnett. (Screenshot)
WATCH: Ponoka council calls on gov’t to support rural small businesses

Ponoka council is calling on the provincial government to increase funding to… Continue reading

The Red Deer Rebels have acquired goaltender Connor Ungar from the Brandon Wheat Kings, the team announced Monday. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Red Deer Rebels acquire goaltender Connor Ungar, forward Liam Keeler in separate trades

The Red Deer Rebels have acquired goaltender Connor Ungar from the Brandon… Continue reading

A woman attends a vigil in front of the hospital where Joyce Echaquan died in Joliette, Que., on Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Hospital staff testify today at Quebec coroner’s inquiry into death of Joyce Echaquan

TROIS-RIVIÈRES, Que. — Medical staff from a Quebec hospital where Joyce Echaquan… Continue reading

Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons in Ottawa on February 17, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Ottawa looking for 2,000 new energy auditors to get home retrofit program going

OTTAWA — The federal government is looking to train 2,000 more people… Continue reading

A person waits outside a COVID-19 testing clinic in Montreal, Sunday, May 9, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Ontario opens shots to 18+, Quebec opens drive-thru, as COVID vaccine efforts expand

Quebec is opening a drive-thru vaccine clinic at its busiest airport and… Continue reading

Calgary Flames players celebrate the team's overtime win against the Vancouver Canucks during an NHL hockey game in Vancouver, B.C., Sunday, May 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Lindholm OT winner gives Flames 6-5 win over Canucks despite blowing four-goal lead

VANCOUVER — In a game with little to play for besides pride,… Continue reading

In this photo taken on May 13, 2021, Russia's performer, Manizha, smiles during an interview after rehearsing at the Eurovision Song Contest at Ahoy arena in Rotterdam, Netherlands. For many, the stage and global television audience of millions is a chance to express messages of inclusion, strength and positivity. Manizha has a message of strength for women in her song whose lyrics include the lines: "Every Russian Woman. Needs to know. You're strong enough to bounce against the wall." (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
Eurovision Song Contest returns despite coronavirus pandemic

ROTTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) — Pounding beats? Check. Uplifting lyrics? Check. Huge, backlit… Continue reading

Serena Williams of the United States returns the ball to Italy's Lisa Pigato during their match at the Emilia Romagna Open tennis tournament, in Parma, Monday, May 17, 2021. Serena Williams earned her first victory in more than three months by beating 17-year-old qualifier Lisa Pigato 6-3, 6-2 in the first round of the Emilia-Romagna Open. Williams accepted a wild-card invitation for the Parma tournament after losing her opening match at the Italian Open last week. (AP Photo/Marco Vasini)
Serena Williams posts 1st victory in more than 3 months

PARMA, Italy (AP) — Serena Williams earned her first victory in more… Continue reading

In this Oct. 21, 2014 file photo, people pass an AT&T store in New York's Times Square. AT&T will combine its media operations that include CNN HBO, TNT and TBS in a $43 billion deal with Discovery, the owner of lifestyle networks including the Food Network and HGTV. The deal announced Monday, May 17, 2021, would create a separate media company as households increasingly abandon cable and satellite TV, looking instead at Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Facebook, TikTok and YouTube. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)
AT&T, Discovery join media brands as cord-cutting encroaches

NEW YORK (AP) — AT&T will combine its massive media operations that… Continue reading

Most Read