Multidisciplinary career profile: Barbara Hopewell

By Wendy Campbell:

Barbara Hopewell

I first knew Barbara Hopewell as an architect – we met at the pool where she dives and I swim. Later, as we chatted about keeping fit, we discovered that we were both physios and neither of us have ever left behind the concepts of posture, flexibility and strength we’d learned many years ago. So, it isn’t only OT’s who take the skills from their basic training into other fields.

When she was a teenager considering a career, Barbara’s father encouraged her to enter physiotherapy – he’d been injured in France during the Second World War and credited his recovery to an English physio.  So, not surprisingly, working with veterans of both World Wars at the Colonel Belcher Hospital in Calgary was Barbara’s first job after graduating with a diploma in physio from McGill in 1964.

Next came Norway for a year at the Bergen Trygdeklassen, then back to Montreal for a couple of years, working with children at l’hopital Ste Justine during the excitement of 1967. Although Barbara loved physio, she wanted to explore options for the future and enrolled in a program at McGill that led to a Degree in Architecture. She worked in the field until her children arrived, and after taking a break, she was able to work part time, sometimes in physio, sometimes in architecture.

In 1985, she returned to full time work and spent the next 25 years at Zeidler Partnership Architects, working on a variety of projects: hotels, sports stadiums, research laboratories, universities and mixed use projects.

When she retired in 2010 at 66, Barbara was living in Toronto and had a strong desire to use her skills in physiotherapy in some way. She has become very involved in adaptive sports –  currently teaching skiing through Track 3, Ontario Association for Kids with Disabilities, and managing their ski program for kids with autism. In the summer, she runs an adaptive sailing program for teens at Burlington Able Sail.

We often compare notes on fitness, among other things, when our paths cross in the dressing room. The theme is often how our beginnings as physios continue to inform our physicality and  the way we move through our lives.