ORH Beginnings, Growth & Milestones

The Ottawa Rotary Home has a rich history dating back to 1982, when it was established through careful planning and community support. The journey began with the rental of land from Central Mortgage and Housing on a 75-year land lease, coupled with the dedicated efforts of the Rotary Club of Ottawa, which raised $290,000.00 towards the capital costs of the Home. Construction was successfully completed on October 21, 1981.

On June 14, 1982, an important milestone was achieved as the Home was officially opened by the Hon. Frank Drea, then Ontario’s Minister of Community and Social Services. At that time, it bore the name “The Rotary Home for Crippled Children,” with the Ministry of Community and Social Services committing to cover 97% of the operating budget. The remaining 3% was contributed by the Rotary Club of Ottawa.

In its early days, the concept of respite care was relatively new, particularly for children with severe disabilities who were typically institutionalized. The Ottawa Rotary Home blazed a trail by becoming the first respite care facility of its kind in Canada. Over the years, the occupancy rate steadily rose, highlighting the essential role the program played for families in Ottawa and Eastern Ontario. Today, The Ottawa Rotary Home serves over 281 registered families. While some utilize its services frequently, others find comfort in knowing it’s there as a valuable resource.

The foundation of our organization was laid upon the principle of providing respite services to our community. We extended our mission to encompass not only children but also adults with disabilities who weren’t yet ready to transition out of their family homes. To complete the full continuum of care, we envisioned opening a full-time residential home for families prepared for that next step. Since opening our doors in 1982 to address a pressing community need, our organization has continued to evolve and expand its services, catering to the diverse needs of children and adults with physical disabilities in our community.

At the Ottawa Rotary Home, our commitment to person-centered, individualized support remains unwavering as we strive to enhance the quality of life for those we serve.


The Board appointed Miss. Paula Goff as the inaugural Executive Director of our organization. During her tenure, Miss Goff led the organization through the exciting challenges of launching the program, which focused on providing support to individuals of all ages with physical disabilities and complex medical needs.


Miss. Paula Goff stepped down from her position due to family-related reasons, leading to Mrs. Faith Detchon assuming the role of Executive Director. Mrs. Detchon served as the director from 1983 to 2004, overseeing the Home’s transformation into the thriving and successful program it is today.


Funding for the operating costs of our organization shifted when the Ministry of Community and Social Services started providing full financial support, covering 100% of the expenses.


In response to concerns raised regarding the term “crippled,” the organization officially underwent a name change and became known as “The Ottawa Rotary Home.”


Additional funding was secured from the Ministry of Community and Social Services to initiate our Multiple Special Needs (MSN) Program. Subsequently, renovation efforts commenced to expand the Home, creating the necessary space for accommodating three additional beds required for the program.


The inclusion of registered nurses on our staff enabled us to extend our services to children who are medically fragile, technologically dependent, or have complex needs.


We had the pleasure of welcoming our current Executive Director, Mrs. Gina St.Amour, who has been instrumental in guiding our organization through the expansion into adult services, both from a capital and operational perspective.


Recognizing the importance of ensuring best practices and compliance with standards set by the College of Nurses of Ontario, a decision was made to establish a Nurse Manager position. Ms. Lauri Cox, one of our dedicated staff nurses, was appointed to this role on a part-time basis to oversee the nursing team and uphold these high standards.


As the Executive Director’s responsibilities grew to include building partnerships with community agencies and working on the New Home Project, the Nurse Manager role evolved into a full-time position. This expanded role now encompasses the oversight of the Home’s daily operations.


The organization received a significant grant of 2 million dollars from the Ontario Government to support the New Home Project.


Construction initiated on our new respite home on Rotary Way. This marks a significant step toward realizing our dream of extending respite services to our children program graduates.


We opened the doors to our new 21-bed respite home in Leitrim and officially launched our adult respite program. Significant renovations were undertaken at our Rochester home, enabling us to welcome six individuals from Rideau Regional as part of the de-institutionalization initiative, along with two individuals from the community on a full-time basis. This marked the establishment of our very first residential program.


Our beautiful new respite home experienced a significant flood, necessitating the closure of our doors for repairs. Our dedicated teams swiftly transitioned to providing home-based emergency services and established temporary respite beds in collaboration with a local retirement home.


With great anticipation, the Rotary Home’s Leitrim Campus embarked on an exciting project, breaking ground for a new fully accessible Splash Pad and Memorial Gardens.


Commemorating 30 years of offering respite to families and caregivers, spanning from June 14, 1982, to June 14, 2012, our street was officially named ‘Rotary Way’ in honor of the Ottawa Rotarians. This significant dedication ceremony was presided over by Ottawa Mayor, Jim Watson, on June 30th.


Upon the completion of the official capital campaign, as the final pledges were accounted for, a significant milestone was achieved. A formal Ottawa Rotary Home sign was erected at the entrance to the Ottawa Rotary Home, proudly marking its presence on Rotary Way.