SCIO Community Magazine
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A Brief History

Spinal Cord Injury Ontario’s story begins as the Second World War drew to an end. Close to 250 veterans returned to Canada with varying degrees of paralysis. These veterans, who were otherwise healthy, found themselves scattered across half a dozen veterans hospitals surrounded by professionals who expected very little of them.

The veterans expected far more from themselves. Lieutenant John Counsell, after being injured at Dieppe, often visited the Christie Street Hospital in Toronto and spoke with other veterans about their future. He spoke about creating an organization that would represent them, and bring positive change in their lives. During a visit to the hospital he met Ken Langford, another war veteran with an SCI, who agreed to work with him to build the Canadian Paraplegic Association (CPA),

John then approached philanthropists such as L.M. Wood, (who helped found the Canadian National Institute for the Blind) and Conn Smyth, the hockey legend who provided office space for CPA at Maple Leaf Gardens.

These men brought in financial support and helped to build important relationships with sponsors.

Dr. Harry Botterell, Dr. Palmer McCormick and Dr. Albin Jousse worked with other medical professionals and people with SCI to improve health care. These medical professionals embraced John Counsell’s vision to help people achieve independence, self-reliance and full community participation. Our mission and culture of philanthropy today reflects the powerful vision of our determined founders.

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Two engineers work on a prototype for today’s power wheelchair.
A few patients at the doors of Lyndhurst Lodge, Canada’s first rehab hospital specifically for people with spinal cord injury.


Spinal Cord Injury Ontario | Winter 2020

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