150 Years of Sunnyside

Then and Now: How care for the vulnerable has evolved over 150 years

The faces, places and stories of Sunnyside Home

Sunnyside Home in Kitchener is the region’s largest long term care home. This year we turn 150 years old! We believe that we are aging well. Care for older adults has come a long way since its roots in the House of Industry and Refuge.

That’s where our story began – back in 1869, with a house and farm that sheltered Waterloo County’s most vulnerable. Later it became an “Old People’s Home” (that’s what it was called in the 1920s!). Today we are a vibrant community that truly feels like home, with hundreds of visitors every day.

When you’ve been around as long as we have, you meet many interesting people and have many good stories to tell. Join us as we journey back in time with a person whose life has been intertwined with Sunnyside for nearly 80 years. Explore photographs and letters from people that give you a feel for what life was like back then, and watch our new video “Welcome Home” for a glimpse into life at Sunnyside today.


Then and Now: How care for the vulnerable has evolved over 150 years

The faces, places and stories of Sunnyside Home

Sunnyside Home in Kitchener is the region’s largest long term care home. This year we turn 150 years old! We believe that we are aging well. Care for older adults has come a long way since its roots in the House of Industry and Refuge.

That’s where our story began – back in 1869, with a house and farm that sheltered Waterloo County’s most vulnerable. Later it became an “Old People’s Home” (that’s what it was called in the 1920s!). Today we are a vibrant community that truly feels like home, with hundreds of visitors every day.

When you’ve been around as long as we have, you meet many interesting people and have many good stories to tell. Join us as we journey back in time with a person whose life has been intertwined with Sunnyside for nearly 80 years. Explore photographs and letters from people that give you a feel for what life was like back then, and watch our new video “Welcome Home” for a glimpse into life at Sunnyside today.


We invite you to share your own stories, photographs, letters or other information about the House of Industry and Refuge, Sunnyside Home or programs and services offered by Seniors' Services at the Region of Waterloo. 

Your experiences and stories help us to document our rich history and tell the story of how care for the vulnerable has evolved over the last 150 years.

Please do not use names or other identifying information in your stories.

Thank you for sharing. Your experiences and stories help us to document our rich history and tell the story of how care for the vulnerable has evolved over the last 150 years.

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  • William Jaffray's account of life at the House in 1871

    7 months ago

    William Jaffray, a local journalist decided to visit the House and spend a day there to observe the daily operations. He wrote a speech of his observations and suggestions and presented it to the County Council on June 20, 1871 as a lecture in the Town Hall.

    At the time of Jaffray’s visit people were admitted to the House of Industry and Refuge regardless of age. On the day of his visit, the oldest was 80 and the youngest was 4. Until 1900, the House of Industry and Refuge housed all people, regardless of age. In 1900, the County Council... Continue reading

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  • The House of Industry and Refuge was Built in 1869

    7 months ago

    In 1867, the local County of Waterloo decided to build the House of Industry and Refuge in anticipation of an upcoming Municipal law. The law would require all municipalities in Ontario to build a House of Industry and Refuge for the “destitute, poor and infirm The County purchased 141 acres from a local farmer, John Eby. Located on Frederick St. between Edna and East Avenue, the House opened its doors on June 15th, 1869 admitting approximately 37 residents in the first year. Previous to this, many people who found themselves destitute, sick or were disabled were put in local jails.... Continue reading

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