History of Cheshire Homes
The concept began in England. Shortly after the Second World War, Group Captain Leonard Cheshire, VC, DSO (2 bars), DCF, who was a pilot with the RAF Pathfinder Squadron, found himself with a large old house and little else. He was asked by a local hospital if he would take in, and look after, an elderly gentleman who was terminally ill with cancer. Ever the humanitarian, he agreed. After the man's death, he was again asked if he would take in a couple more and with the help of some friends he looked after these people. The numbers grew until it was suggested they form a committee and get more housing. This was, essentially, the beginning of the Cheshire Foundation. Since then, the concept has spread and today there are over 250 homes in 50 countries.
In 1967, Dr. and Mrs. John S. Owen came to Saskatoon. Soon after their arrival, they received a letter from Cheshire, who was a personal friend of theirs, stating he had received inquires about starting a Cheshire Home in Western Canada, and whether it was needed. Dr. Owen held discussions with local health professionals, particularly Dr. A.R. (Peter) Huston and confirmed there was a need for such a Home.
Group Captain Leonard Cheshire
On January 19, 1970, registration for Cheshire Homes of Saskatoon was effected under the Societies Act of Saskatchewan and Cheshire Homes of Saskatoon came into being with Dr. Owen as the first president.
The Board of Directors, fourteen in number, addressed itself to the following tasks:
In November 1970, a Brief containing proposals for establishing a 25 bed residential facility and requesting government support was submitted to the Interdepartmental Coordinating Committee on Rehabilitation. The Brief was turned down by the Committee. However, in 1972, the Coordinating Committee, now chaired by Donna Zdriluk, prepared and submitted a new brief to the Provincial Government. The Brief outlines a proposal for building five group homes, each to accommodate 8 residents, designed to resemble a family type dwelling.
In January 1972, Cheshire Homes was incorporated under the Saskatchewan Companies Act. The Kiwanis Club of Saskatoon agreed to provide up to $7,500 towards the cost of building the initial unit with the right of first refusal on future units.
On June 22, 1972, the Government announced the approval of construction of a special care home for eight physically disabled persons in the 18 to 50 age group requiring level 3 care. However, construction did not start until the fall of 1972 due to difficulties in having the plans approved.
After six years of frustrations and setbacks, the first home was ready for occupancy and the first residents moved in July 1975. The unit housed 8 residents in 4 single rooms and 2 double. The official opening of the Home took place May 26, 1976 with Group Captain Leonard Cheshire officiating.
One year later, application to construct a second group home for 10 physically disabled adults was present to the Government and approved. The second unit would be similar to the first with the supervisor supervising both units. Construction began in the fall of 1978 and was completed in May of 1979 with residents moving in during June and July 1979.
In 1981, the Government approved the construction of a third group home with negotiations beginning with the Saskatchewan Housing Corporation and the Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation regarding financing. The third home would have the same basic plan as House 2, yet with some improvements. The project was tendered in December 1983 for spring 1983 construction. Construction was completed and the residents began moving in October 1983.
In 1985, the suggestion was made that the two car garage be renovated to an activity room for the residents. Application was made to the City for a license and the Kinsmen Foundation agreed to pay for all materials for the conversion.
The most current addition to Cheshire Homes was the building of the fourth House, known as Independence House. Please see Initiatives to find out more information about Independence House.