Woodview’s roots date back to 1853, when the Sisters of St. Joseph started ‘St. Mary’s Orphan Asylum’ for boys and ‘Mount St. Joseph’ orphanage for girls. These orphanages were housed in separate buildings in the City of Hamilton.
The Sisters of St. Joseph worked tirelessly to feed, clothe and maintain a ‘home-like’ atmosphere for the orphans. Mother Martha and her sisters collected money, food, clothing and wood in Hamilton, throughout the diocese and in outlying areas as far as Goderich. Farmers offered horses and wagons to transport the sisters and the supplies they collected. Despite the physical hardships of these expeditions and some criticism that these collections constituted begging, they continued to support the orphans for many years.
In 1853, the citizens of Hamilton donated the proceeds of a public concert in response to Mother Martha’s appeal for support of the orphanage. This became an annual event known as the Orphans’ Festival, and it proved to be a major portion of the orphanage’s financial assistance for over 100 years. The sisters wrote the shows, composed the music and designed costumes for the children’s performances.
In 1936, Mount St. Joseph was built on the former grounds of the “Bishop’s Palace” on King Street in Hamilton as a care facility for both boys and girls. A report prepared about Mount St. Joseph complimented the staff on their obvious love of the children, citing how they appeared both happy and healthy.
In 1952, clients were called inmates. There were 50 females and 54 males for the 72-bed facility. The operating budget was just over $40,000. However, from 1955 to 1959, the population of the orphanage dropped by 50%.
The reasons for this reduction were:
- Advances in medical science
- Greater knowledge of human behaviour
- Increased income, insurance and compensation programs
- Social program and foster care development
- Newly established local, provincial and federal government agencies.
On November 21, 1960 the Mount St. Joseph Charter was signed and a ‘Corporation’ governed by a Board of Directors was formed. The principal operation was an ‘Institute for Emotionally Disturbed Boys.’ There were 20 to 30 children with emotional, mental and behavioural problems for which the ‘usual’ methods of care were insufficient. From this realization came the concept that Mount St. Joseph adapt its’ program to treatment of emotionally disturbed children. ‘Lay persons’ were hired who were educated and trained in social work, child & youth care and child psychology. This was the beginning of a new methodology of residential and day treatment services.
In 1975 Canada House was opened for adolescent boys as a community-based residence in Hamilton. By the end of the 1970’s, Mount St. Joseph Centre relocated to Burlington and became Woodview Children’s Centre. Day treatment programs for boys and girls as well as a residence were added at the new location. In the 1980’s, Woodview expanded to Brantford, adding a residence and day treatment programs there.
An independent living program created in Hamilton prepared youth for reintegration into the community. This was later changed to teach independent living skills to adults with ASD and subsequently became known as Woodview Manor. Adolescent day treatment programs were established in local Hamilton high schools and an elementary day treatment program was opened in North Halton. We were ‘expanding our horizons’ to meet the needs of the communities.
In the 1990’s Woodview continued to expand day treatment and community-based programs in Brantford and Halton. In 1995 Woodview assumed responsibility for the Child & Family Assessment and Treatment Centre in Brantford, providing a range of office-based counseling services for children, youth and families.
In Hamilton, Woodview Manor moved into a townhouse complex to house a skill teaching residential unit and semi-independent living program for adults. Social and recreational groups were created and Manor Personnel Deployment Inc. (MPD) was established to promote vocational opportunities for adults with ASD.
In the 2000’s Woodview continued to change and grow, always mindful of meeting the needs of the community through collaborative planning processes. There was a particular focus on the development of community-based mental health programs, enabling families to remain together while addressing sometimes very complex needs and issues. In Brantford, the Intensive Child and Family Services program, Early Years Mental Health services and Wraparound Complex Needs were developed to provide intensive home, school and community-based support. Both the Burlington and Brantford residences transitioned into intensive home, school and community-based programs with a day treatment component. These programs enable children to live at home and receive intensive support. The program at Canada House transferred from Woodview to Good Shepherd Centre in 2013 and is now known as Jeb’s Place. This focus away from residential treatment has been driven by research and shifting values.
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Also in the 2000’s, we have seen a rise in services for children with autism. It was a natural progression for Woodview to expand into this area of service, given our history of serving adolescents and adults with autism.
In Hamilton, children’s skill-based groups were established for children and youth with ASD. A ‘Transition to High School’ program was created for youth to ease the transition from elementary to secondary school. Woodview became a provider of Intensive Behavioural Intervention (IBI) in partnership with ErinoakKids. This later expanded to include Applied Behavioural Intervention (ABA). Skill teaching groups for all ages of children and youth have expanded across Hamilton, Halton and Brant.
Woodview has been able to respond effectively and quickly in implementing change, primarily because of the foundation of experienced and creative staff in our various programs. We will continue to do so with the help of the community.