Internationally recognized physiotherapist, educator, author, mentor and pioneer
The Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine celebrates David Magee’s remarkable career in physical therapy with the creation of a
clinical fellowship in his name
A humble and quiet man, Dr. David Magee does not immediately convey the impression that he’s a world-renowned physiotherapist and professor, Member of the Order of Canada, sports therapist to elite athletes and proud owner of three Stanley Cup rings, one Grey Cup ring and one Olympic ring.
Ask one of the Edmonton Oilers players whom Magee has treated though, and they may paint a different picture. Players who were injured were sent to see Dr. Magee, the team’s designated sports physiotherapist for 26 years including the team’s Stanley Cup glory years. Strict 6 a.m. appointments were never missed and Dr. Magee’s therapeutic instructions were followed exactly—with a respectful “yes sir” for good measure. Aside from his reputation in the field of physical therapy and his considerable expertise, Magee’s passionate dedication to his craft earned the respect of every client that was able to return to their daily activities and every elite athlete that was able to return to top form on the field, on the ice or in the pool.
Magee’s no nonsense, by-the-book approach also applied in his role as professor. Students arriving late were out of luck as the door was locked promptly at the beginning of class at 8 a.m. Magee’s aim was to teach his students that their chosen profession was to be taken seriously and approached with professionalism and mutual respect, as a client-centered service.
Throughout his 46-plus-year career, Magee has amassed a long list of accomplishments and accolades including the newly established Dr. David Magee Clinical Fellowship in Physical Therapy.
Magee’s is a career to be celebrated. The University of Alberta’s Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine will create an endowment in honour of Dr. Magee’s contribution to his profession, community and alma mater. The endowment will support a two-year clinical fellowship at the Glen Sather Sports Medicine Clinic (GSSMC) and assist in training the next generation of sport physical and manual therapists.
“It is a great honour,” said Dr. Magee of the fellowship. “I am very fortunate to have worked in such a great place as the University of Alberta which allowed me to pursue my dreams as a sports therapist and to work with so many great people.”
“It’s also very satisfying to know that I have taught many outstanding undergraduate and graduate students who have gone on to make successful careers for themselves and that I played a small role in their success,” said Magee.
Magee has worked with athletes for the majority of his career, and this is a fitting tribute and one that is a very important, personal legacy to Magee. He began his career in the 1960s as a team trainer for the hockey team at Lakehead University where he studied history and political science. When he first came to the University of Alberta to study physical therapy and sport sciences in physical education he had the opportunity to work alongside Clare Drake and Ray Kelly as an assistant trainer for the U of A hockey and football teams.
It was Magee’s passion and expertise that led to his involvement with amateur, Olympic and professional athletes including 26 years with the Edmonton Oilers hockey team, 15 years treating the Edmonton Eskimos football club players and 16 years with the Canadian Olympic synchronized swimming team, during which time they won gold, silver and bronze medals.
Over the years, many affectionate monikers have been bestowed upon Dr. Magee including “Fibber”—a name given to him by Wayne Gretzky in reference to the 1940s American radio comedy series Fibber McGee and Molly, and “Shady”—for his affinity for sticking to the most shaded outdoor areas during his trips to southern training and competition locales with the Canadian Olympic synchronized swimming team.
Magee has also been instrumental in transforming the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine and the Glen Sather Sports Medicine Clinic throughout his dedicated years of service to the U of A. During his tenures as chair and associate dean, Magee steered a critical transformation of the professional programs in the faculty and was influential in the creation of the physical therapy satellite programs in Calgary and Camrose. He also served as a dean's fellow overseeing the move of the GSSMC to its new home in the Kaye Edmonton Clinic in 2012, and the clinic’s transformation to include treatment, service, education and research.
“The time has gone really quickly and there isn't really anything I would change if I had to do it again,” Magee said, reflecting on his long and successful career.
His plans for retirement? “Just adjusting to not getting up at 4:30 in the morning.”