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Our History


Prior to 1965, parents across Ontario were gathering and asserting demands that their sons and daughters receive appropriate education and other supports. This "movement" of parents eventually led to the creation of the Ontario Association for Community Living that is now made up of some 100 local Associations throughout the province. 


Community Living Association (Lanark County) is an integral and proud part of this movement.  The following represents important milestones in the history of the Association from its inception in 1965. 



On November 8, 1965 a group of parents met at the Baptist Sunday School in Smiths Falls to start laying the plans for a day school. Attending were the Goods, the Bradys, the Hagars, the Rosevears, the Stewarts, the Moultons and the Lesways. Joan Lesway chaired the meeting. A Steering Committee was established to do the groundwork to form a local Association. 



Willis Lesway is elected as the first President of the Association.

Workshops in the province were receiving funding of $20 per month per participant. Associations saw this as a real advance but we were just starting to understand the extent of our power to influence government and society. The same year saw the creation of the Homes for Retarded Person’s Act, providing 80% funding for group homes.



Canada celebrated its first 100 years of history. At the Ontario Association annual conference in Ottawa about fifty young people came together from across the county to attend the very first youth conference, the start of an organization that continues to grow and flourish. Delegates from the two conferences demonstrated in support of people with disabilities by Marching to Canada’s new Centennial Flame.



Edna Good becomes President of the Association.

Youth across Canada for the Mentally Retarded (Ontario Division) was created. It is now known as Youth Involvement Ontario. In Orillia, the Ministry of Health hosted a conference to explain the reorganization of facilities and introduce its staff training initiative the Mental Retardation Counselor program. This program is now located in Community Colleges and is known as the Developmental Services Worker Program.



Changes to the Education Act allowed children with disabilities to be funded by public education. This results in schools started by Associations to become the responsibility of the public school system. By the time Associations turned the schools over, they had collectively created the largest private school system in North America. An Adult Services Committee is formed to start a sheltered workshop and its first manager, Jim McAllister is hired. There were now 80 nursery schools and 6 group homes in the province. The National Institute on Mental Retardation (now the Roe her Institute) was opened in Toronto by the Canadian Association.



Andy Stewart becomes President of the Association.

ARC Industries Sheltered Workshop and Training Centre opens in Carleton Place. The federal government relaxes the regulations restricting people with intellectual disabilities to cross international borders and there are now 84 sheltered workshops in the province serving 2200 people.



Two tragic incidents involving residents of Rideau Regional Centre (working on farms) prompted the government to appoint Walter Williston, a prominent Toronto lawyer, to conduct an investigation. His report focused on the care of people with intellectual disabilities and talked about “a century of failure and inhumanity in the large multi-purpose residential hospitals. His alternative was clear – a full life in the community. The Ontario Association for Community Living (then Association for the Mentally Retarded) prepared “We Believe” a far-reaching brief presented in response to the Williston Report. It challenged the concept of mental retardation as a health issue and encouraged greater funding and expansion of community services.



Roy Smith becomes President of the Association.

The government provided funding for children with severe disabilities of school age who were not in school. This saw the creation of ten developmental centers across the province.



The Welch Report “Community Living for the Mentally Retarded in Ontario: A New Policy Focus” was released by the Ontario government, committing it to improving community services. The Report marked a watershed recognizing that the needs of people with intellectual disabilities could be met better through a social and community based model than a medical model.



Betty Harper becomes President of the Association.

The first People First Group in Canada is formed in British Columbia. The Canadian Association for Community Living held its annual conference in Vancouver with the first ever session for self-advocates. Ontario introduces the Developmental Services Act, bringing services and supports for people with intellectual disabilities under the Ministry of Community and Social Services.



The Association opens the George Street residence.



Marjre McCoubrey becomes President of the Association.

The Lanark Association was part of a group of Associations that produced a resolution that saw the Canadian Association lobbying the federal government to include mental disabilities as a prohibited ground for discrimination when a Human Rights Act was developed.



Brian Gillard becomes President of the Association.

OACL started the Cash For Life Lottery, which became so successful that the government eventually took it over, leading to the government run lotteries of today. Thousands of tickets were sold locally as an Association fundraiser. OACL adopted the goal “that retarded people live in a state of dignity, share in all elements of living in the community, have the opportunity to participate effectively”.



Marjre McCoubrey becomes President of the Association.

An open house at ARC Industries attracts over 200 guests.



John Hollinger becomes President of the Association.

The Association has a membership of 127, members. The first People First Group in Ontario is started in Brampton.



Dan Porayko becomes President of the Association.

The employees of ARC Industries stage a walkout demanding more money for their participation in the program. This is the first and only such walkout in the province and it attracts wide spread attention. People First are now organized in six communities throughout Ontario and the Canadian Association sees the first self advocate, Barb Goode from British Columbia elected to its Board of Directors. Bill 82 was introduced requiring all school boards in Ontario to provide education for all children within their jurisdictions. This changed the 1911 Special Classes Act, which excluded children with intellectual disabilities from the education system.



The Association opens the Charles Street residence during the United Nations Year of the Disabled. People First of Ontario is formed and holds its first provincial conference. The Supreme Court of Canada heard the “Eve” case with the CACL Self Advocates Committee taking a major role as intervener.  The issue was that people such as parents, relatives etc. should not have the right to make personal decisions on behalf of a person with a disability, in this particular case to be sterilized without consent. 



Ruby Shortt becomes President of the Association.

At the federal level, mental disability is placed into the Charter of Human Rights as a prohibited exclusion. The Ontario government announces the Five Year Plan, which includes the promise of the closure of more institutions in the province. Locally Justin Clarke fights for the right to not be declared mentally incompetent and is victorious, allowing him to determine his life direction. 



Cap Foster becomes President of the Association.

Manitoba is the first provincial Association to change its name to Community Living, reflecting the movement’s commitment and ending labeling that had become offensive to people we support.



Pat Brady becomes President of the Association.

The Canadian Association adopts community living as part of its name.

Hockey great Wayne Gretski and “Joey” do public education “spots” for the Canadian Association.



Norm Willis becomes President of the Association.



Association hires its first Executive Director. The Supreme Court announces the Eve decision and it’s a victory for the human rights of people with disabilities. Decisions about them cannot be made in the absence of their permission.



Pat Trew becomes President of the Association.

Spring Street residence opens. The organization changes its name to Community Living Association (Lanark County) and it assumes responsibility for the Family Home Program from Rideau Regional Centre.



Angela Knapp Board Member of Merrickville receives Volunteer award from the provincial government for her more than 10 years contribution to the Community Living Association (Lanark County). Funding approved to build new home for four young adults to replace the leased home on Spring Street in Almonte.



Duncan Schouler becomes President of the Association.

The Association opens the Thomas Street and the Edward Street residences.



Joan McKay is hired as Executive Director.

It’s a sad year for the Association when Joan Morgan, a part time employee is killed in a car accident. Joan was the former wife of one of the founding members and the first president and later went on to advocate on behalf of people all over Canada. The Ontario Association adopts its current Goal and Vision statement, which is later, adopted by this Association. The Association opens the Elmsley Street and Moffat Street residences.



Dave Hutchingame becomes President of the Association.

The Association creates two bursaries for students pursuing post secondary education in developmental services and special education.



Tom Brownell becomes President of the Association.

The Association adopts its current Goal and Vision statement. It also

co-sponsors with the Lanark Board of Education a professional development day on integrated education for Board employees and others. The Association supports over 90 people throughout the County.



Weston Redden of Smiths Falls was the proud winner of the Keith Johnston Memorial Award. ARC Industries closed, replaced by Community Support Services throughout the County.



The Keith Johnston Memorial Award went to Greg Hobbs of Almonte.



Alice Miller becomes President of the Association.

Chris Purdy of Carleton Place received the Keith Johnston Memorial Award.



Keith Johnston Memorial Award was given to David Johnston of Perth.



Bob McGrath of Almonte received the Keith Johnston Memorial Award.



Jackie Barr of Perth received the Keith Johnston Memorial Award.



Norah Lee Jackson of Carleton Place was the very proud winner of the award named after her colleague, Keith Johnston.



Sarah Lalonde of Almonte received the Keith Johnston Memorial Award.



Bruce Monteith becomes President of the Association.

Derek Dunn of Carleton Place is chosen to receive the Keith Johnston Memorial Award. The Association celebrates its 35th Year of service to the community and provides support to well over 100 people in Lanark County.



James Poirier of Perth is presented with the Keith Johnston Memorial Award. Chris Purdy of Carleton Place receives a bursary from the Anne Stafford Light Up The Future Fund, a program operated by the Ontario Association for Community Living.



Harry Purdy becomes President of the Association.

The Association initiates an Employer of the Year Award, granted to Sun Flower Bake Shop in Perth. David Boal of Smiths Falls receives the Keith Johnston Memorial Award.



Lori Reith becomes President of the Association.

The Employer of the Year Award goes to Carleton Place IGA and Janet Kent receives the Keith Johnston Memorial Award.



Donnie Walker receives the Keith Johnston Memorial Award and a Certificate of Appreciation is presented to Eli Hoffman owner of the Perth Flea Market for his support of the Association’s Goal and Vision. The Association supports four gentlemen to move out of Rideau Regional Centre to their new home in Smiths Falls.



Colin Gibson becomes President of the Association. 

Kory Earle is supported by the Association to start the Lanark County People First Group. 



Council of Canadians with Disabilities v. Via Rail Canada Inc. (2007), 59 C.H.R.R. D/276, 2007 SCC 15

The Supreme Court of Canada, in a split 5–4 decision, overturned a ruling of the Federal Court of Appeal, and held that the Canadian Transportation Agency's requirement that Via Rail modify rail cars was reasonable. The appeal concerned the rights of people with disabilities to accessible rail transportation under the Canadian Transportation Act and raised questions about the extent to which persons who use wheelchairs must be able to be self-reliant when using the national railway.



The Association hears from our federal MP regarding our letter urging adoption of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

  • Agreed that Rick Tutt and Molly Bruce will make a presentation on Bill 77 hearings in Ottawa.

  • Lobbied against a move by the Upper Canada Board District School Board to revisit the issue of segregated education.

Government of Canada policies and programs that support people with disabilities is available in the 2008 Federal Disability Report, Advancing the Inclusion of People with Disabilities 2008.



Joyce Rivington becomes President of the Association.

The most significant event in the history of the community living movement in Ontario occurred on March 31, 2009 when our province became institution free! Ontario is free of large government operated facilities for people who have an intellectual disability. Our Association has been responsible over the years for helping at least 35 people move out of institutions and take their rightful place in their communities.



Canada hosts the Paralympic Games in Vancouver and places 3rd overall with 19 medals, including 10 gold. Canada ratifies UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and by doing so pledges to be governed by the CRPD, which articulates an international human rights framework for addressing the exclusion and lack of access people with disabilities have encountered in Canada and in all societies



Elizabeth Snyder becomes president of the Association. 

Tony Pacheco joins Community Living Association (Lanark County) as Executive Director.



Landmark Canadian Supreme Court ruling says mentally disabled adults can give reliable court testimony. Community Connections begins in Smiths Falls, connecting and engaging people in their community in Recreation and Community.



Class Action Law suit is settled and the government awards $20,000,000 for people who resided at Rideau Regional Center. The association supports 50 people who had been institutionalized.



CSS Carleton Place and Almonte amalgamate to form Community Support Services North Lanark. Teri-Lynn Garrie won her discrimination case before Ontario’s Human Rights Tribunal. 



Premier K. Wynne, formally apologies to people with intellectual disabilities, for institutionalizing them and treating them as second class citizens.



Kory Earle a respected and recognized self-advocate and a person supported by CLA Lanark County is nominated for consideration to the Senate. The Association celebrates its 50th Anniversary.


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