Vancouver, BC
West End Jepson-Young Lane since 1 July 2018
one name
Name That Lane
In 2017, the City of Vancouver started to rename eight laneways in the West End after local prominent figures. Who were these people? Why are we honouring their names? What legacy did they leave behind? Let’s find out about the little-known stories of some of our greatest leaders, activists and pioneers.

Peter Jepson-Young Lane
Located between Comox and Pendrell streets, Jepson-Young Lane runs from Thurlow to Cardero, and from Bidwell to Stanley Park.
Peter Jepson-Young (1957-1992) was a doctor in Vancouver who became famous for promoting AIDS and HIV awareness in the early 1990s. He appeared regularly on CBC-TV with a series called The Dr. Peter Diaries, in which he documented his own life as a person living with AIDS, becoming the face of the tragic epidemic in the eyes of the public.
Ultimately best known simply as Dr. Peter, he was born in New Westminster, raised in Nanaimo and North Vancouver, and graduated from the University of British Columbia in the 1980s. The future was promising for the 29-year-old physician until he was diagnosed with AIDS and given nine to 14 months to live. This was 1986 and the disease was still very much unknown.

After surviving a rare form of pneumonia and two heart attacks in the same year, Dr. Peter slowly recovered and returned to work. But AIDS symptoms returned three years later with an eye infection, eventually turning him blind. The young physician would become unable to practise medicine.
He then decided to educate the public about AIDS with his own series – The Dr. Peter Diaries. The show was broadcast nationwide after the evening news on CBC-TV from September 1990 up to his death in November 1992. Throughout the 111 episodes, Dr. Peter would show the world what it meant to be struck by this new, devastating disease. The segments are still accessible on CBC’s website.
Although Jepson-Young’s parents were worried about the public’s response, CBC received thousands of positive comments, and a big viewer base allowed the show to return for so many episodes on a weekly basis. "If I have managed to reach out and educate people, to touch them and perhaps change their viewpoint about people with AIDS and gay people, then I think that will be my greatest contribution," he once said in an episode of the Diaries.

Conscious of how fortunate he was to be surrounded by friends and family – and his guide dog Harvey, Dr. Peter knew this wasn’t the case for all people affected by the virus. Just a few weeks before his death, he therefore created the Dr. Peter AIDS Foundation with the help of his partner Andrew Hiscox and his sister Nancy Hennessy. The Foundation later opened the Dr. Peter Centre, a 24-hour care residence for people living with HIV/AIDS. As of 2018, his mother Shirley was still volunteering at the centre.
“No one has ownership of this disease – unfortunately, it belongs to all of us and the only way we’re going to conquer this is through cooperation,” Dr. Peter said.

Dr. Peter died in 1992, leaving behind an educated public and having broken down some of the stigmas associated with AIDS. To this day, his brave actions have helped thousands of Canadians on their journey against HIV/AIDS.
In 1993, the documentary The Broadcast Tapes of Dr. Peter was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. A biography by journalist Daniel Gawthrop was published in 1994, titled Affirmation: The AIDS Odyssey of Dr. Peter.

Photos © The West End Journal

1 January 2021
Lucas Pilleri, Vancouver