“Michelangelo of the Forest” moonlights as Westmount prosthodontist Dr. Harry Rosen

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Bram Eisenthal
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He’d rather be giving someone a buccal makeover than anything, because dentistry – more recently prosthodontics at his second home, the Montreal General Hospital - has been his life for over half a century. But hand Dr. Harry Rosen a chisel and a huge chunk of slate and, boy, can he sculpt!

“Michelangelo of the Forest” moonlights as Westmount prosthodontist Dr. Harry Rosen

What’s most impressive when you meet Westmount resident Dr. Rosen in his Seaforth Building office on Cote des Neiges, aside from so many degrees, diplomas and awards they make your head spin, is the man himself. Tall, slim, solid and agile, you almost drop when you hear he is 80 years old. No way.

Then you learn his back story and are even more captivated. In 1953, the young man graduated from McGill’s Faculty of Dentistry and started leaving his mark on a field he has carved a special niche into, through absolute dedication. His reputation as a dental practitioner, teacher and technician is quite widespread – he has been an Emeritus Professor at McGill University since 1996 (and in fact my own fabulous dentist, Richard Rapoport, studied under him, lucky guy), still works for the Montreal General, was made a Fellow of the American College of Dentists in 1968 and in 2008 joined the exclusive ranks of just 50 dentists in the world (the sole Canadian to date) who have received the coveted William John Geis Award.

Dr. Rosen and his wife Dolores have also combined their natural resources to create three children, who have given them eight grandchildren. And natural resources form the real gist of this story, which started at the Rosens’ Laurentian cottage retreat some 40 years ago. “I had many craggy rocks and trees on lakefront property and I gave myself a challenge, to prevent further soil erosion and create something beautiful,” said Dr. Rosen.

So, he and a hired caretaker cut trails throughout the property, stretching out into the woods, trails that are kept open year-round for hiking , cross-country skiing and such. Then, he got into sculpting. “My grandfather and late father were both European tailors, so I guess I inherited their dexterity,” Dr. Rosen commented. “And what I do is all about strategy, determination, perseverance... and some physical strength as well.”

Dr. Rosen moves large rocks on his property and then carves them there, first using diamond discs (and, of course, dental drills are made of diamond) to place grooves into the stone, after which he breaks them down and transforms them into exquisite “earth art,” the ultimate eco-friendly expression of creativity. “You need to be a good technician to be both a dentist and a sculptor,” he pointed out.

You can see his Little Hercules at the Montreal Children’s Hospital, a project he began after his grandson commented that he wanted to be strong like his grandpa... his Hercules! His latest gem, The Ascent, is in front of the Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research, at the Jewish General Hospital, on Cote Ste. Catherine Rd. It will be dedicated in a ceremony there shortly. He has also done an Inukshuk sculpture and Universal Woman on a Half-Shell, based on Botticcelli's The Birth of Venus.

The community-minded dentist is also very proud of the Dr. Harry Rosen Endowed Clinical Teaching Fund he has established at McGill, toward which he has helped raise $430,000 of the required half a million dollars to date. “I have had wonderful teachers and mentors over the years and I am hoping to give a little back,” he said. <@Ri>Dr. Harry and Dolores Rosen will be honoured by the Jewish Public Library at its annual gala on May 31, 2010.

For more on Dr. Rosen, go to: www.drharryrosen.com<@$p>

Organizations: American College of Dentists, McGill University, Davis Institute for Medical Research Jewish General Hospital Harry Rosen Endowed Clinical Teaching Fund Jewish Public Library

Geographic location: Westmount, Montreal Children

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