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Stories of life in an institution
and the voices that closed them

I Lived In An Institution


Alan's story was written by his parents and, as a result, is presented in third person narrative. His story shows what can be accomplished with the advocacy of dedicated parents. Read Alan's story here.

Alex Abolash

Alex was born in Italy and lived throughout Europe. His family moved to Canada and Alex went to live at Rideau Regional Centre. He later transferred to Prince Edward Heights. Although he didn't mind institutional life, he emphatically states that he would never go back. Read Alex's story here.

William Joseph Clayton

For years after Joe left Rideau Regional Centre, he could still hear the sound of screams in his head. He still has to leave a light on at night to make sure he knows where he is when he wakes up. Joe has had great support to deal with his past and has turned his energy towards healing through art.  Read Joe's story here.

Don Bodechon

Don moved to Southwestern Regional Centre at the age of 16. He worked at the farm, cleaning stalls and caring for his horse named Smokey. Don never liked living at SRC and thinks that everyone should know what went on in there. Read Don's story here.

Tom Boorman

Tom enjoyed his time living at Prince Edward Heights. He had an active social life and freedom to do whatever he wanted. Now Tom lives with a family and likes his life even better! Read Tom's story here.

Clifford Branscombe

Clifford, called Skip by those who know him, lived at Rideau Regional Centre before moving to Prince Edward Heights. Skip liked living at PEH and, although he loves where he lives now, he misses both friends and staff. Read Skip's story here.

Mary Ellen

At the age of one, Mary Ellen was sent to live in a group home. When she was 13, the police and CAS showed up at the home and took her to live in an institution. Mary Ellen was always afraid and felt like she was in prison. She was placed in a family home two years later, and has had a full and happy life ever since. Read Mary Ellen's story here.

Tammy Doughty

Tammy spent time living at both Rideau Regional Centre and Prince Edward Heights. Tammy was always happy and liked the social aspects of living with many people. She is happy having her own room now, but misses many of her old friends. Read Tammy's story here.

Kevin Hutchinson

At the age of 23, Kevin wrote a story that he typed up and presented to Dr. Charles Pascal, the deputy minister of Community and Social Services in 1992. Kevin's thoughts on the invasive techniques used to manage behaviours at Southwestern Regional Centre helped to stop the use of electrical shock prods on individuals in institutions. Read Kevin's story here.


Ian spent time living at the Edgar Adult Occupational Facility. Because of his many negative institutional experiences, Ian has had to develop creative strategies to manage his anxieties and fears. Read Ian's story here.

Steven Kwasznycia

Steven lived at Southwestern Regional Centre for 16 years. Nothing in the institution made him happy. He was angry at the way people were treated and he was afraid all of the time. Read Steven's story here.

Jean Leach

At the age of 10 Jean was moved from foster care to Rideau Regional Centre. Her story speaks of abuse and great loss that, at the age of 77, still makes her sad today. Read Jean's story here.

David McKillop

David was born in 1950 and lived at Rideau Regional Centre between the ages of 4 and 24. Currently the president of People First Ontario (2019), David is passionate about educating others about the abuses and injustices that he experienced and witnessed during his time living in institutions, and about his life accomplishments since he left. Read David's story here.

Lenny Quade

Lenny lived in foster care until he went to live at Rideau Regional. He later moved to Prince Edward Heights before living in the community. Although Lenny always had good experiences living in institutions, he likes living in the community much better. Read Lenny's story here.

Keith Stewart

Keith spent time living at Rideau Regional, Huronia, and another institution. Keith was always happy and positive, no matter what his circumstances were. Read Keith's story here.

Madonna and Connie Strange

Connie and Madonna never knew about each other until their staff person, Debbie, left Southwestern Regional Centre to work at Community Living Windsor. United at last, they spent the last 13 years of Madonna's life enjoying every moment, with a life filled with fun, friends and adventures of every kind. Read Madonna and Connie's story here.

Jon Workman

At the age of 18, Jon was sent to live at the Edgar Adult Occupational Centre. During his 10 years there, he experienced continuous incidents of severe abuse. Jon is passionate about educating others about institutional life and how his life changed for the better after he left. Read Jon's story here.