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About Sickkids
About SickKids

February 4, 2011

SickKids celebrates 60th anniversary on University Avenue

The Hospital for Sick Children was founded in 1875. In 1891, when the hospital was located at 67 College St., it was running out of space. Plans for a larger, up-to-date facility were taking shape in 1929 but slowed down due to the Great Depression and World War II.

The formal opening of the new building took place on January 15, 1951. It was a noteworthy event; public tours attracted more than 85,000 visitors! The new hospital had 632 beds, almost twice the number available at College Street, making it one of the largest hospitals in the world.

According to an article in the torontoist, the ribbon-cutting was performed by six of the hospital’s patients: Dorothy Blackmere, a knee-surgery patient from Freeman, Ontario; Elaine Jackson, a “blue baby” from St. Stephen, New Brunswick; Robert Westlake and Dolores St. Germaine, polio patients from Toronto and Regina; David, a ward of the Children’s Aid Society being treated for asthma; and Anna, an Inuit from the Canadian North being treated for an eye condition.

The opening was widely attended by past and present staff, former patients, and notable politicians including the Hon. Paul Martin, Federal Minister of National Health and Welfare, Premier Leslie Frost, and Mayor Hiram McCallum.

See caption
Helen Henderson (left) and Beverley Smith (right), the first two patients transferred from 67 College St., with two unidentified nurses and R.A. Laidlaw, February 4, 1951. Photo by Hydro News.

The move-in date was February 4. At 7 a.m. the transfer of 193 inpatients from College Street to University Avenue began and was completed by 10:30 a.m. Each child was wrapped in blankets and was identified with a card for easy transfer to the correct ward. Critical patients were transferred by ambulance and trucks supplied by the Red Cross but most patients travelled by car. The first two patients (see photo), Helen Henderson and Beverley Smith, were transported by the Chairman of the Board of Trustees, R.A. Laidlaw.

The Hospital for Sick Children continues to inspire excellence. As we celebrate the 60th anniversary of our move to University Avenue, we look forward with excitement to the launch of our new Research & Learning Tower in 2013.

SickKids is internationally renowned for complex and specialized family-centred care, groundbreaking scientific and clinical advancements, and training the next generation of experts in child health.