The son of a headmaster, Alfred Waddell set out for New York in 1923 with his young bride Amelia Maria, dreaming of becoming a doctor.
The couple worked menial jobs to support themselves in New York. In 1928 Alfred left his family to study medicine at Dalhousie’s medical school in Halifax. Amelia Maria finally joined him with their 4 children. Graduating in 1933, he faced the suspicions of Halifax’s white and black communities who regarded him as an “outsider.” His practice took off slowly. Members of the Chinese community were among his first clients.
Despite his own hardships, Waddell treated many isolated people who had no access to medical care. Waddell brought medicine to far flung black communities; spoke out against injustice; and even billeted black musicians like Cab Calloway, when he could not get a hotel room. A champion of social equality, Dr. Waddell raised his children with ideas of fairness and earned the respect of an entire city.
Although he died of a heart attack before he could see many of the social changes he fought for, Alfred Waddell is remembered fondly his those who benefited from his advocacy.