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Robert McIlWraith



December 25, 1951 – December 29, 2021

Dr. Robert McIlwraith, former Head of the Department of Clinical Health Psychology and former Medical Director of the WRHA Clinical Health Psychology Program, has died. He is survived by his wife, Wendy Josephson, son Christopher McIlwraith and daughter-in-law Emma Drury, and grandchildren Abigail and Theodore.  He is also survived by his sister Nancy Robinson, brothers-in-law Wally Robinson, Jaik Josephson, Brent Lott, and Gary Laidlaw, sister-in-law Kathie Josephson, mother-in-law Lillian Josephson, nephews Tom (Brandi), David (Jennifer), and Andrew (Jill) Robinson, nieces Amelia, Erin (Tim), and Justine Josephson-Laidlaw, great-nephews Daniel, Patrick, and Jake Robinson and Sol Harris, and great-nieces  Maya, Ariella, Aidah, and Sadie Robinson. 


Bob was born in Marathon, Ontario to Hugh and Ester McIlwraith, a Christmas present for his sister Nancy.  Bob’s bond with Nancy remained strong all his life.  As an adult, when facing a quandary or needing to think things through, be would often disappear into his study, saying “I’m going to call my sister.” He grew up in Marathon, and skipped grade 13 (then required in Ontario) by attending the Brock University Exceptional Student Summer Program and entering university after grade 12.  He subsequently attended the University of Winnipeg, graduating with an Honours BA in Psychology, then Acadia University, from which he graduated with a Master’s in Clinical Psychology, and the University of Manitoba, from which he obtained his PhD in Clinical Psychology. He completed his clinical internship at the Kitchener-Waterloo Hospital.


Bob spent his entire career at the Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg and in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Manitoba, except for a sabbatical year as a Research Fellow at the Marshall McLuhan Institute for Culture and Technology, at the University of Toronto.  He served as director of the Residency Program in the Department of Clinical Health Psychology for ten years, during which he oversaw the implementation and growth of the Rural and Northern Psychology Training Program, which recruited psychologists to rural communities and gave residents an immersive training experience in the skills and knowledge required for practice in these settings.  Many of the residents who trained in this program continue to practice in these rural communities or others across Canada.  Bob spent the last ten years of his career as Head of the Department of Clinical Health Psychology in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Manitoba and Medical Director of the Clinical Health Psychology Program of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority.   He oversaw the growth and expansion of psychological services into many new areas of health care, and was a relentless recruiter of new psychologists.   When he retired at the end of 2015, the Dr. Robert McIlwraith Excellence in Clinical Training Award was established by the Clinical Health Psychology Department in recognition of his contributions to the professional development of a generation of clinical psychologists.


Bob was active in the Canadian Psychological Association (CPA), serving on and chairing the CPA Accreditation Panel for Doctoral Programs and Internships, and was a frequent accreditation site visitor and trainer of site visitors.  He also was instrumental in the establishment of the CPA Section of Rural and Northern Psychology and the Section of Psychologists in Hospitals and Health Centres. He served a term as the President of the Canadian Council of Professional Psychology Programs and was on the Editorial Board of Canada’s Mental Health.  He was a Fellow of CPA, a Distinguished Life Member of the Manitoba Psychological Society (MPS) and the recipient of the Clifford J. Robson Award for Distinguished Contribution to Psychology in Manitoba from MPS and the Distinguished Professional Contributions to Rural and Northern Practice Award from the Section of Rural and Northern Psychology of CPA.


Bob was renowned for his kindness, his sense of humour, and the love and loyalty he demonstrated for his family and friends. His face would light up when he talked about his son Chris, and his darling grandchildren Abby and Theo brought him joy from the beginning of their lives until the end of his.  He found delight in travel, orange chocolate, circuses, looking at art, all things Disney, and Christmas.  He and Wendy shared an abiding love throughout their life together, marked by the comfort of shared daily rituals and by occasional adventures.


Thanks to Lisa and the other members of the Palliative Care Team of the WRHA for their skill, compassion, and ingenuity. We are forever grateful.


A celebration of Bob’s life will be held when pandemic conditions allow, and it is safe for the many people who loved him to gather together again.  An announcement will be placed in the Winnipeg Free Press when a date has been arranged.  In the meantime, Bob’s family kindly requests that his friends and relatives take a few minutes to honour his memory by visiting his tribute page at A photo-biography, as well as memories and stories published by those who knew him, are available there.


In lieu of flowers, those who wish to do so can make a donation in Bob McIlwraith’s memory to the Dr. Robert Martin Memorial Lecture Fund of the University of Manitoba.  This endowed fund, established in honour of Dr. Martin (the first Head of Psychology at the Health Sciences Centre) supports continuing education in the Department of Clinical Health Psychology. Link: University of Manitoba - Donation Form - Martin Memorial Lecture University of Manitoba ( OR Contact UM Donor Relations 204 474-9195 or UM Department of Clinical Health Psychology 204 787-5163.


Cremation & Life Celebrations

530 St, Mary Avenue - Winnipeg

204-421-5501 -

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