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Spinal Cord Injury
Lesions Médullaires
A Brief History

Celebrate Spinal Cord Injury Canada

We have a proud, rich history. Established by WWII veterans from across the country, Spinal Cord Injury Canada honours the work of our founders. We continue to provide services and support so that individuals and families adjust, adapt and thrive.

Spinal Cord Injury Canada

  • The Canadian Flag


    In June, the Accessible Canada Act receives Royal Assent. The new law includes most of the recommendations from the Federal Accessibility Legislation Alliance.

  • Federal Accessibility Legislation Alliance wordmark


    Spinal Cord Injury Canada forms the Federal Accessibility Legislation Alliance where over 100 organizations and thousands of people with a broad range of disabilities collaborate to improve and strengthen Bill C-81 – the proposed Accessible Canada Act.

  • Logo for the Canadian Access and Inclusion Project


    Spinal Cord Injury Canada leads the Canadian Access and Inclusion Project to present recommendations from people with a broad range of disabilities on what must be included in the legislation that would eventually become the Accessible Canada Act.

  • Spinal Cord Injury Canada logo


    Canadian Paraplegic Association changes its name to Spinal Cord Injury Canada to better reflect the people we serve. When our organization was first established, few people with quadriplegia lived more than a few years. 

  • Justin Trudeau uses a power wheelchair in the Chair Leaders event


    Canadian Paraplegic Association holds its first Chair Leaders event on Parliament Hill that continues for several years. 

  • The Lyndhurst Hospital at 250 Sutherland Drive


    The Lyndhurst Hospital Board of Directors approves the transfer of the hospital property and assets from the Canadian Paraplegic Association to the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute. Assets were valued at $5.4 million. 

  • Colleagues in Guyana chat with Bill Adair about issues relating to people with spinal cord injuries


    Canadian Paraplegic Association begins years (until 2007) of international development in many countries including Cuba, Jamaica, Senegal and Guyana. 

  • head and shoulders shot of Doug Mowat in suit and tie looking left of the camera


    Douglas Mowat is named a Member of the Order of Canada for his work as a founder of the Canadian Paraplegic Association BC, which he led for 30 years as the Executive Director. He was also the first wheelchair user ever elected to a Canadian legislature and was a member of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia from 1983 to 1991.

  • Tony Mann sitting at his desk holding a pen smiling at the camera


    Tony Mann, the Executive Director of the Canadian Paraplegic Association Manitoba, is named a Member of the Order of Canada. He was instrumental in the founding of the Western Division.

  • head and shoulder shot of Donald Curren


    Donald E. Curren, Nova Scotia's Executive Director, is named a Member of the Order of Canada. Curren was known as "Mr. Paraplegic" because of his participation in the Paralympics, his love of wheelchair sport which he brought to the Atlantic region, and because he designed equipment for people with disabilities. 

  • 1979

    Spinal Cord Injury Ontario incorporates. The first Executive Director of the Ontario Division is hired in 1980. He was Kirby Rowe, an amazing advocate.

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  • Dr. Botterell standing and smiling


    Dr. Harry Botterell becomes an Officer of the Order of Canada. 

  • Pierre Gariepy head and shoulder photo


    Pierre Gariepy, the first Executive Director of CPA Alberta, is named a Member of the Order of Canada.

  • 1976

    Canadian Paraplegic Association Newfoundland and Labrador incorporates.

  • Backhoe working on leveling the ground to build Lyndhurst Hospital


    Led by Ken Langford and Andy Clarke, the ground breaks on the 106-bed Lyndhurst Hospital site, with a CPA approved research lab requested by Dr. Botterell.

  • 1972

    John Counsell becomes an Officer of the Order of Canada.

  • 1972

    Gustave Gingras is promoted to Companion of the Order of Canada. He establishes rehabilitation centres all around the world. 

  • Dr. Al Jousse walking outside


    Dr. A.T. Jousse is named an Officer of the Order of Canada.

  • Head a shoulder shot of Dr. Gustave Gingras


    Gustave Gingras, Medical Director of Ste. Anne de Bellevue and Queen Mary Veterans' Hospital in Montreal, is named an Officer of the Order of Canada. He was also a founder of the Rehabilitation Institute of Montreal.  

  • Newspaper article image from The Telegram May 29, 1968. Title reads: Paraplegic Dieppe Hero awarded Order of Canada. Picture has John Counsell shaking hands with Governor General Roland Mitchener, Gregory Clarke, another award winner, is also in the pic.


    John Counsell becomes a member of the Order of Canada. This is the first year of the award. The motto of the Order is: DESIDERANTES MELIOREM PATRIAM which means: “They desire a better country”.

  • 1967

    Ken Langford becomes the Managing Director of the Canadian Paraplegic Association for the next 33 years.

  • The CPA seal and part of the letter of incorporation


    In November 1964, CPA Saskatchewan incorporates. Read their historical corporation papers.

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  • 1961

    Canadian Paraplegic Association Alberta is incorporated.

  • 8 year old Edmond Derion sitting in his wheelchair sporting a black cowboy hat


    At 8 years old, Edmond Derion is the youngest person to be admitted to Lyndhurst Lodge.

  • Donald Curren sits in his wheelchair reading a newspaper.


    The Nova Scotia Division is founded by Donald E. Curren.

  • 1951

    The Atlantic Division of the Canadian Paraplegic Association is established.

  • Canadian Paraplegic Association's office at Maple Leaf Gardens 1945-50


    Canadian Paraplegic Association closes its office at Maple Leaf Gardens and moves to the newly renovated garage at Lyndhurst Lodge. The Maple Leaf Gardens office was arranged by Board Member Conn Smythe.

  • A small ceremony to receive the key to Lyndhurst Lodge


    The key to Lyndhurst Lodge is handed to John Counsell by representatives of the Department of Veterans' Affairs. Lyndhurst Lodge is transfered to Canadian Paraplegic Association for one dollar. 

  • A view inside a ward at Christie Street Military Hospital


    Opened in 1919, Christie Street Military Hospital in Toronto closes and veterans move to the newly built Sunnybrook Hospital.

  • 1947

    The Western Division of the Canadian Paraplegic Association had its first board meeting at Shaughnessy Hospital serving British Columbia and Alberta.

  • 1947

    The first group of soldiers at Lyndhurst Lodge thank Dr. Jousse by buying him a car.

  • The first issue of Caliper Magazine - A person with a spinal cord injury meets one of the Maple Leafs


    The first issue of The Caliper magazine is released.

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  • 1946

    The Central Western Division of the Canadian Paraplegic Association was formed at Deer Lodge Hospital in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

  • 1946

    The Eastern Division formed in 1946 serving Quebec and Maritimes from Ste. Anne de Bellevue.

  • 1945

    On May 10th, the Canadian Paraplegic Association receives its incorporation.

  • Dr. A. T Jousse, Medical Director Lyndhurst Lodge, in suit - head and shoulders shot


    In March, Dr. Albin Jousse is hired as the Medical Director of Lyndhurst Lodge.

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  • Dr. Harry Botterell talking to patient


    In February, Dr. Harry Botterell returns from No. 1 Neurological Hospital in Basingstoke, England to Toronto, Ontario to be the Chief of Neurosurgery at Christie Street Medical Hospital.

  • Ken Langford head and shoulders in WWII attire


    In January, Ken Langford is hit by a dropped high explosive and sustains a spinal cord injury near Wyler, Holland, He returns from the war in November to Christie Street Military Hospital and then on to Lyndhurst Lodge.

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  • 1945

    On January 16th, John Counsell, Arthur Hay, Joseph Wrangham, Jack Higman, Douglas Quirt, Edward Higginbottom and Andrew Clarke decide to incorporate the Canadian Paraplegic Association, now known as Spinal Cord Injury Canada.

  • A big mansion with a crescent drive way that became Lyndhurst Lodge


    On New Year's Day, Lyndhurst Lodge is purchased to become the world's first spinal cord injury rehabilitation centre. On January 15th, the first ten soldiers injured in WW II move into Lyndhurst Lodge.

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  • 1944

    Frustrated with the lack of information and support regarding his pension, John Counsell works with the Canadian Legion and the Veterans' Associations of Canada to press the government for change, leading to the creation of the Department of Veterans' Affairs.


  • head and shoulder shot of L.M. (Lew) Wood


    John Counsell moves to Toronto and reacquaints himself with family friend L.M. (Lew) Wood, one of the founders of the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, National Society for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and the Canadian Arthritis and Rheumatism Society.

  • Jimmy Darou and John Counsell together sitting in their wheelchairs with race horse paintings and photos behind them.


    John Counsell returns to Canada on the ship Lady Nelson. He is sent to the Montreal Neurological Institute. Here he meets Jimmy Darou and Peer Support begins. They become life-long friends.

  • The Dieppe beach with cliffs in the background and a pebbled beach


    John Counsell sustains a spinal cord injury on the beach in Dieppe. He is taken to No.1 Basingstoke Neurological Hospital where he meets Dr. Harry Botterell.

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  • far in the distance is the large No. 1 Neurological Hospital in Basingstoke, England


    Dr. Botterell, as a Major with the Canadian Army Medical Corps, takes on the task to help other doctors from the Montreal Neurological Institute establish the Canadian Neurological Hospital in Basingstoke, England.

  • Head shot of a young Dr. Harry Botterell


    Dr. Harry Botterell travels from Toronto to Montreal to share with the Canadian Medical Association his success in working with patients with paralysis. He establishes himself as an up-and-coming expert in the spinal cord injury field.

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  • Jimmy Darou pumps gas at his station in Montreal


    Jimmy Darou is injured in a horse race. Later he becomes the first peer to provide peer support to our Founder, John Counsell.

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