fill-Easter Seals Canada 100th Anniversary
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image-slide-Easter Seals Canada 100th Anniversary

Easter Seals has delivered transformative, life-changing programs and services that have enhanced access, independence, social inclusion, and quality of life for Canadians living with disabilities.

Easter Seals responds to the needs and aspirations of Canadians living with disabilities and their families by providing services and support to promote access, inclusion and opportunity. Working together, Easter Seals Canada and its provincial members strive to increase awareness, research and investment in disability issues.

Since 1922, Easter Seals Canada and its provincial member organizations have been working to create a more inclusive and accessible society that includes and honours the contributions and potential of Canadians of all abilities. Easter Seals Canada runs national awareness campaigns and raises critical funding for the transformative programs and services that are offered by Easter Seals provincial member organizations at the local level.

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The Beginning

The launch of Easter Seals in Canada.

On November 28, 1922, in Windsor, Ontario, representatives from seven Rotary Clubs came together to discuss the inadequate resources and support available for the province’s children with physical disabilities. This newly formed group, the Ontario Society for Crippled Children, sought to emulate the success of the Easter Seals program in the U.S. and is now known as Easter Seals Ontario.


A Foundational Decade

A time of growth and activity.


“Société de secours aux enfants infirmes” was founded in Quebec. 
Today, it is known as Fondation Papillon/Timbres de Pâques Québec.


The incorporation of Nova Scotia Society for the Care of Crippled Children took place; this organization is now known as Easter Seals Nova Scotia.

Easter Seals launched a public information campaign for universal pasteurization of milk to help prevent tuberculosis.


Easter Seals’ first Canadian public fundraising appeal was held at the Royal York Hotel in Toronto.


Through the generous support of Rotary Clubs, Easter Seals opened Blue Mountain Camp in Collingwood, Ontario – the first Canadian camp for children with physical disabilities.

The Rotary Sunshine Camp Association was also formed to establish a summer camp for children just outside St. John’s in Newfoundland. This is now known as Easter Seals Newfoundland and Labrador.



A National Beginning

Continued growth and expansion.

In 1947, the first Easter Seals direct mail campaign was introduced in Ontario. March was also dubbed Easter Seals Month during this year.

During the 1940s, the Easter Seals ambassador program began, with Lynn Berry selected as the first provincial “Timmy” to represent all children with physical disabilities.


A Busy Decade

More provincial chapters founded.

In the first year of this decade, the Society for Crippled Children was founded to assist children with disabilities in Manitoba. Its name would eventually change to the Society for Manitobans with Disabilities and is known today as Manitoba Possible/Easter Seals Manitoba. Also, parents of children with cerebral palsy founded the Saskatchewan Council for Crippled Children (SCCC), which is now known as SaskAbilities/Easter Seals Saskatchewan.


Rewarding Leadership

Highlighting leaders across Canada

In 1962, Len Headley was named recipient of the very first Easter Seals Canada Leadership Award for exceptional leadership and dedication to children with disabilities through involvement with Easter Seals agencies across Canada. In 1968, the Easter Seals Canada Leadership Award was presented to Foster Hewitt, Conn Smythe, Waldo Holden, and Phil Stone; and in 1969 the Easter Seals Canada Leadership Award was presented to Whipper Billy Watson.


More Great Gains

Fundraising breakthroughs and formal alliances.

In 1975, Canada’s first wheelchair-accessible group home for young adults with physical disabilities was opened in Edmonton, Alberta. As well, Whipper Billy Watson hosted the first Snowarama event in 12 communities throughout Ontario, raising a total of $130,000 in its first year.


Partners that Care

The start of an important relationship.

In 1983, Friends of We Care (now We Care) became a national corporate partner to Easter Seals, raising funds each year to allow more Canadian children with disabilities to attend accessible camps. In 1984, Easter Seals adopted the annual naming of both a “Timmy” and a “Tammy” to represent children with physical disabilities. A minimum wage guaranteed to sheltered clients of the Employment Preparation Centre in Manitoba was also established. In 1987, the Easter Seals Canada Leadership Award was presented to Gary Wright.

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In 1995, acting on the recommendation of a Canadian Rehabilitation Council for the Disabled (CRCD) Task Force Report, the name of the national organization was changed to Easter Seals/March of Dimes National Council.


A New Name

Significant growth in programming and recognition.

At the outset of the decade, the “Timmy and Tammy” program was renamed to the Easter Seals Provincial Ambassador Program. The following year, Easter Seals received the Conference Board of Canada/Spencer Stuart National Award in Governance for demonstrating innovative and successful application of leading private sector business practices to traditional charity governance.


A Time for Change

A historic decade for disability and inclusion.

In 2011, Booster Juice sponsored Easter Seals Canada’s Paper Egg Campaign, launching an ongoing corporate partnership. The following year, former Easter Seals Ambassador Zak Madell earned a spot on Team Canada for the 2012 Paralympic Games in London.

In 2017, Easter Seals Canada engages in consultations with the federal government, along with more than 100 other accessibility organizations, in the development of Bill C81 (Accessible Canada Act), Canada’s first federal accessibility legislation.

2020 and Beyond

Adapting and Advancing

Resilience, innovation, and looking ahead.

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic early in 2020 changed the world unexpectedly. Suddenly, physical distancing, remote work, and masks became a way of life, and people living with disabilities were faced with greater challenges than ever before. Understanding these challenges and recognizing that they are likely to persist for the foreseeable future, Easter Seals has remained steadfast in its support of Canadians with disabilities, delivering programs and services in new ways and continuing to advocate for accessibility and inclusion across the country.

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