The Hospital for Sick Children

Identity area

Type of entity

Corporate body

Authorized form of name

The Hospital for Sick Children

Parallel form(s) of name

Standardized form(s) of name according to other rules

Other form(s) of name

  • Hospital for Sick Children
  • SickKids
  • Victoria Hospital for Sick Children (1890-1891)

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Description area

Dates of existence

Founded 1875, incorporated 1878


The Hospital for Sick Children was founded in 1875 by a group of charitable women in Toronto who wanted to provide free medical treatment for the children of the poor, and over time the institution evolved from a small, local charity into one of the pre-eminent pediatric hospitals in the world. Its founding was influenced by the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children in London, England, from which it took its name. During 1890-1891, the hospital was briefly known as The Victoria Hospital for Sick Children (in honour of Queen Victoria's jubilee), but returned to its original name and later became generally known as SickKids. It was the first children's hospital in Canada and began its existence as a rented house with six cots for patients and no source of income except for donations by interested friends.

The hospital was first incorporated in 1878 in an act which specified the hospital's name, mandate, by-laws and organizational structure under the control of a committee of ladies. Additional legislation has been enacted from time to time.


The hospital refers to its various locations as First Hospital, Second Hospital, etc. The first two locations, 31 Avenue Street (opened March 1875) and 206 Seaton Street (opened June 1876), were rented houses. The Third Hospital, at 245 Elizabeth Street (opened 1878), was a purchased property which necessitated the formal assignment of Trustees and a Declaration of Incorporation. The Fourth Hospital was a rental property at 90 Jarvis Street (opened fall 1886). In the fall of 1891, the hospital began to admit patients to the Fifth Hospital at 67 College Street (formally opened May 1892), the first purpose-built pediatric hospital in Canada. The hospital remained at that location until moving to 555 University Avenue on February 4, 1951. The hospital had several major expansions over the following decades, the largest of which was the construction of an in-patient Atrium (opened January 1993).

In addition to hospital premises, the hospital operated The Lakeside Home for Little Children at Gibraltor Point on Toronto Island (1883-1928) for convalescent patients, and The Thistletown Country Branch in Thistletown (1928-1957) primarily as a rehabilitation and convalescent site.

There were two official Nurses' Residence sites on Elizabeth Street, the first from 1906-1960, and the second from 1960-1987. Nurses and nursing students were also housed in rental premises at various times.

The Alan Brown Building at 77 Elm Street opened in 1983 to provide apartments for temporary residents, fellows, etc. The Elizabeth McMaster Building at 88 Elm Street opened in 1987 as the primary home of the Research Institute.

Legal status

Functions, occupations and activities

The Hospital for Sick Children is a fully accredited teaching hospital affiliated with the University of Toronto, and its Chief of Pediatrics heads the university's Department of Paediatrics within the Faculty of Medicine.

Mandates/sources of authority

Internal structures/genealogy

The Hospital for Sick Children has had 4 distinct forms of governance.

The Ladies Committee, which founded the hospital, had complete control over every aspect of the institution beginning in 1875. The Board of Trustees came into being in 1878 as financial advisors, but the Ladies Committee had ultimate authority including the right to appoint the trustees, until 1891.

The Board of Trustees began to assume control in 1891, under the chairmanship of John Ross Robertson, owner of the Evening Telegram and a major donor to the hospital. Over the next eight years, the Board gradually acquired power over all aspects of hospital management, including the right to limit the powers of the Ladies Committee, the members of which resigned unanimously in 1899.

The death of John Ross Robertson in 1918 closely coincided with the appointment of Dr. Alan Brown as Chief of Pediatrics and initiated the third form of governance. For more than 40 years, the Chief of Pediatrics, in cooperation with the Superintendent of Nursing, controlled the day to day activities of the hospital, while the Board of Trustees concerned itself with finance and fundraising.

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