Skip to main content
lives lived
Open this photo in gallery:

Louise GagnéCourtesy of family

Dr. Louise Elaine Marie Gagné: Healer. Activist. Mother. Wife. Born Sept. 19, 1951, in Saskatoon; died April 27, 2023, in Saskatoon, of septic shock; aged 71.

Louise was one of eight children, and one of six sisters, born to Joyce and Joseph Gagné. As a young girl she created a small shrine in her room dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Even at a young age, she was a deeply thoughtful, spiritual and contemplative child.

After high school, Louise completed a year of study at the University of Saskatchewan, where she began to explore activism and counterculture ideas, environmentalism and nature-based spirituality. She was one of the founding members of Saskatoon’s Women’s Liberation House, where she briefly lived. She proudly identified herself as a Hippie.

At 19, Louise met and fell in love with a painter, Dane Wright. Together, they purchased land in Saskatchewan’s Thickwood Hills. Louise planted an enormous organic garden, raised goats and hauled water for cooking and bathing. She learned which “weeds” and flowers were edible and could be put into salads. She baked bread, made cheese and cooked on a wood stove in a log farmhouse without electricity. She recalled with pride that her only food purchases were olive oil and soy sauce. During her years on the land, Louise first began to dream of being a healer.

In 1975, Louise gave birth to a daughter, Monté. She went into labour much earlier than expected in the middle of a snowstorm and was dragged off the farm on a toboggan. When she arrived at the hospital, a team of medical professionals crowded around to witness the rare and gruelling vaginal delivery of a footling breech.

In 1977, Louise left Dane and returned to Saskatoon with Monté to attend medical school. She graduated with distinction in 1983 and began her career as a physician. Louise loved obstetrics. She was a beloved family doctor, fondly referred to by her patients as Dr. Birkenstock. Having a single mother practising obstetrics, Monté often woke up at her grandparents’ home, knowing that her mom would have been out in the night delivering babies again. By 1995, Louise joined the Saskatoon Community Clinic and served patients for 20 years.

In 1993, Louise began dating Peter Prebble, a Saskatoon environmental activist. They were kindred spirits and moved in together a month after Peter asked her out. She relished their sweet, loving relationship and loved being in each other’s presence. The couple married in 1997 in the historic Community Hall within Prince Albert National Park. When Peter’s three sons – Mark, James and Michael – were young, she would take them up the South Saskatchewan River for picnics and to play on the sandbars. When Peter ran for elected office in the Saskatchewan Legislature, she advised him on policy positions, campaigned door to door and always had a nutritious meal ready when he came home late.

Louise lived with chronic pain (the result of old injuries) for much of her adult life. In January, 2000, she was forced to stop working. Once she felt stronger, Louise trained in integrative medicine, which brought together her passion for natural medicine with her training as an MD. She helped hundreds of people overcome complex medical ailments and taught nutrition and integrative medicine at the University of Saskatchewan. She was fondly remembered for bringing nutritional snacks to class for her students.

Louise was an enthusiastic gift giver, even suggesting that a sleeping grandchild be woken up to try on a new outfit. In her garden, the grandchildren were allowed to go wild, as she gave them full command of her garden hose. Picking up wet, muddy kids would sometimes frustrate her daughter, but the kids were always happy.

In her last 16 months, Louise faced two cancers. She was treated and cured of lymphoma, but when she was about to begin treatment for a secondary cancer of the colon, she died of sepsis.

Even while sick, Louise still danced to her favourite songs, just for the joy of it.

Peter Prebble is Louise’s husband. Monté Gagné is Louise’s daughter.

To submit a Lives Lived:

Lives Lived celebrates the everyday, extraordinary, unheralded lives of Canadians who have recently passed. To learn how to share the story of a family member or friend, go online to

Follow related authors and topics

Authors and topics you follow will be added to your personal news feed in Following.

Interact with The Globe