History of Developmental Services

Dr. Bernard T. McGhie was superintendent of the Ontario Hospital School, Orillia from 1927 - 1930.(1) He believed that education should not be limited to children with milder disabilities, and argued that "every child shall be trained to the maximum of his ability and of our teaching skill for independence in as many functions of life as possible".(2) He was hampered by a lack of space and money to create more classrooms and hire more teachers.

Instead, he devised a formal program of instruction to be carried out in the wards for children who would not otherwise have been given the opportunity to participate in classroom instruction. He encouraged and trained nurse-attendants and attendants to take on the role of teacher.

The ward school curriculum included:

  • industrial classes
  • play therapy
  • music, and
  • calisthenics.

Over the years, ward schooling, as it came to be known, replaced classroom instruction.

(1) The Huronia Regional Centre had several names over the course of its long history. When it opened in 1876, it was named the Orillia Asylum for Idiots. It was later renamed Ontario Hospital School, Orillia.

(2) CAMH Archives, Ontario Journal of Neuropsychiatry, September 1929, "The Education Programme in Orillia" by Professor E.D. MacPhee, University of Toronto, p. 61.


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