Dr. Alexander (Sandy) Macpherson Bursary

This award has been established in honour of Dr A. S. Macpherson to promote his standards of excellence and inquiry and decency.  He connected intimately with his neighbours, knowing intuitively that public health practices had to be organic and local.

The award provides financial aid to students with the potential to have a significant impact on community health and development of their local neighbourhoods.

The award will be given to a student from the St James Town neighbourhood and is conditional on acceptance in a publicly accredited college or university.

About Sandy

Sandy was born July 2, 1932 in the Dominion of Newfoundland where, during his formative years, he developed his sense of community, his love of learning, his desire to advocate for the greater good, and a love of the outdoors and the Arts.

Sandy trained in Psychiatry at McGill University in Montreal and became Chief of Psychiatry at Ste Anne’s Veteran’s Hospital in 1965. He later moved to Hamilton to help found McMaster’s Department of Psychiatry in the new medical school.

His commitment to Public Service was demonstrated as he accepted the position of Medical Officer of Health of the City of Toronto in 1981.  His skill and courage as an advocate provided leadership during the early years of the AIDS epidemic. He garnered North American and ultimately International support as he focused on health promotion, notably anti-smoking strategies and water quality. His reputation was for solely evidence-based recommendations. He would not be swayed to alter his decisions based on political considerations or pressures. Sandy was a man of integrity, standing up for sometimes-unpopular beliefs as he contributed to developing structures and systems which have radically improved citizens healthAfter serving as Medical Officer of Health of the City of Toronto,

After serving he returned to McMaster in 1988 to establish the Educational Center for Aging and Health. His love of academia and learning continued throughout as he actively participated in The Academy of Lifelong Learning until the end of his life.

Throughout the time of professional growth and accomplishments Sandy remained grounded in his community through his participation in many volunteer boards, including Sunnybrook and Women’s College Hospitals, Surrey Place Center, and the Academy for Lifelong Learning. Most recently he was working with Community Matters Toronto, a community group dedicated to improving quality of life for newcomers in the St Jamestown neighborhood.

Sandy led a rounded life with his love of the arts, poetry, theatre, travel and sailing informing his professional and academic life.

What is community health?

Community health is a medical specialty that focuses on the physical and mental well-being of the people in a specific geographic region. This important subsection of public health includes initiatives to help community members maintain and improve their health, prevent the spread of infectious diseases and prepare for natural disasters.

“Working at the community level promotes healthy living, helps prevent chronic diseases and brings the greatest health benefits to the greatest number of people in need”

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

“Strong community health requires residents to look beyond themselves and take “collective responsibility. IIt’s not just about the healthcare system, but focuses on the importance of leading a generally healthy lifestyle in order to protect the community as a whole.”

Caleb Backe

Health and wellness expert, Maple Holistics

“Community health is inextricably tied to individual wellness. “Good community health equates to healthy people, as a community is the ecosystem or environment in which people live. It’s difficult to be healthy personally if your community is unhealthy.”

Thomas G. Bognanno

President and CEO, Community Health Charities

How to Apply

To apply for an award of $2,000 please submit the following documents to Margaret Coshan, 35 Prospect St. Toronto ON M4X1C9 or by email to

  • A letter of application telling us who you are, your ambitions, what skills the award will help you develop and an explanation of your financial need.
  • Your resume which should include, as a minimum, your academic and non-academic achievements, and your extra curricular activities.
  • Your latest transcripts
  • Two letters of recommendation from teachers, community leaders, advisors or employers.

The annual application deadline:  April 30 at 5PM

Award Notification: May 31

Past Recipients

Hazel Medina

Hazel Medina


Alisha Ali

Alisha Ali



Rashad Hussain