Mothercraft's History
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Mothercraft's History

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Dr. Truby King introduced Mothercraft as an Educational Process to New Zealand because of the high rate of Infant mortality.

Dr. King's "Twelve Essentials" for the raising of healthy infants: air and sunshine, water, food, clothing, bathing, muscular exercise and sensory stimulation, warmth, regularity, cleanliness, mothering, management, rest and sleep were thought to be revolutionary at the time.


Dr. King campaigned on the need for the pre-parenting, for parenting and the value of breast-feeding.

Dr. King was invited to establish a system of Mothercraft in England. The underlying message of his program and the Mothercraft manual was: "Build healthy babies rather than patch sick ones."


His Majesty King George V knighted Dr. King as the Mothercraft Movement spread to all corners of the empire including: India, Jamaica, Scotland, Australia, South Africa, England and of course New Zealand where it all started.

Her Majesty Queen Mary, Her Royal Highness the Duchess of York, and other members of the Royal Family provided support, interest and encouragement in the activities and accomplishments of Mothercraft.


Barbara Mackenzie, a New Zealand Registered General Nurse and Midwife, came to Toronto (after a brief stay in California) and married Irving Robertson, Chairman of the Board of the Hospital for Sick Children. Together they set up a Mothercraft Centre in Toronto.

Mrs. Robertson championed the cause of mid-wifery in Canada, founded the Mothercraft Well-Baby Nursing Training program, and operated a maternity hospital and community registry.

In 1931, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, as Her Royal Highness the Duchess of York, became the Honorary Patroness of the Canadian Mothercraft Society.

Mothercraft supported infants awaiting adoption with the Catholic Children's Aid Society and provided hospice for infants who were very ill.

Mothercraft opened advice rooms so that families could bring children for medical and nutritional advice. (Public Health had not yet been established) Established Well Baby Nurse Registry which was maintained until 1990. Well Baby Nurses aided with breastfeeding, getting infants on timetables and provided at-home child care support.

Mothercraft pioneered Prenatal classes that focused on mental health and infant well-being.


A Mothercraft Branch (which became autonomous in (1977) opened in Ottawa.

Training focus shifted from well-baby nursing to infant child care.


Mothercraft opened one of the first infant child care centres, positioning Mothercraft as a leader in infant care and education.


Joint Mothercraft-Ontario Institute for Studies in Education research to determine the effects of quality child care on disadvantaged children. Dr. William Fowler's research formed the basis upon which the ECE curriculum was written.


Mothercraft began the certificate training program of home child care providers.


ECE Diploma Program received equivalency from the Association of Early Childhood Educators, Ontario and the Ministry of Children and Youth Services.


Based on research by Dr. Dorothy Shipe at OISE, the Parent-Infant Program was established to support infants at risk and their families. This program was funded by the Ministry of Children and Youth Services.


Infant child care expanded to include Toddler and Preschool child care.

Established Early Childhood Education Assistant programs.

Established post-natal classes to support infant care, parenting and child care options.


Mothercraft published Your Daycare Family through the Child Care Initiatives Fund and a Background Paper on informal Child Care and Nanny Care.


While embarking on the 60th consecutive year of service in Ontario, Mothercraft was selected to operate 2 corporate child care centres, Brookfield Place and Eaton Centre.

Mothercraft also launched the Post Diploma Program in Infancy.


Mothercraft developed a unique training program in the anti-bias approach to Early Childhood Education.


Mothercraft was a lead partner in developing a unique collaborative service for children with suspected or diagnosed developmental delays - KIDS.


Mothercraft, in collaboration with community partners, opened Breaking the Cycle for women who are pregnant or parenting young children, and struggling with substance use.


The Mothercraft Training Department completed articulation agreements with universities in Canada and the United States to support ongoing training of Mothercraft graduates.


The Institute for Early Development was established to engage in critical applied research in early development to support Best Practice activity based on research across the organization.

Mothercraft presented in conferences in France, the UK, Australia, United States, Mexico, Europe and across Canada.


Mothercraft established St. Paul's Early Years Centre.

Institute for Early Development is moved to separate facilities on Yonge Street to support a solid adult learning environment for students.

Mothercraft developed EYSIS (Early Years Services Information System) on behalf of the 22 Early Years Centres in Toronto.


EYSIS is in operation in more than 50% of Early Years Centres in Ontario.


Mothercraft selected to develop CYSIS (Children and Youth Services Information System) for all children's programs in Toronto.

Mothercraft's Breaking the Cycle selected as Best Practice site by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

Mothercraft Institute for Early Development establishes exchange with the Limburg University in Belgium.


Mothercraft celebrates 75 years in Ontario!


Breaking the Cycle won the Kaiser Foundation Award in addiction and mental health services.


Mothercraft opens its new college in Toronto.


First cohort of Indigenous graduates for the ECE program.


Mothercraft Research Chosen for presentation at World Congress: "Neurobehavioral Functioning of High Risk Infants & Young Children"; "The Emotional Quality of the Mother-Child Relationship Using the PIRGAS".

Mothercraft works with Frameline Productions to develop & deliver "Caring for Canada's Children" - a series of 12 webcasts aimed at increasing workers' knowledge of promoting healthy child development & family functioning among newcomer families.


Mothercraft celebrates its 80th Anniversary!

Mothercraft works with various community partners to create and launch the Toronto Early Childhood & Family Resource System – Pathway & Resource Listing a referral tool to assist practitioners who work with families.

Eleanor Szakacs wins the prestigious Gerald Kirsh Humanitarian Award at Princess Margaret Hospital for her inspired work at Mothercraft's Magic Castle.


Mothercraft is accredited as a children's mental health centre by Children's Mental Health Ontario for the first time with a 99% compliance rating!

10th anniversary of Mothercraft's Ontario Early Years Centre.

Stephen Lewis—visionary, inspiration and key contributor to the United Nations' Declaration on the Rights of the Child—visits Mothercraft's Early Intervention team.

Mothercraft and the Bosworth Family establish the Bill Bosworth Memorial Award in memory of this long-serving Mothercraft volunteer & Board Director.


Mothercraft presents the inaugural Bill Bosworth Memorial Award to Laurel Rothman, for outstanding contributions to improving the lives of children in Toronto.

Breaking the Cycle is included in the Public Health Agency of Canada's Best Practices Portal for Maternal and Infant Health

Margaret Leslie receives the Elizabeth Manson Award for Community Service in Children's Mental Health, presented by the Hospital for Sick Children.

Mothercraft & its partners continue to strengthen a coordinated early identification and intervention system with the 2nd edition of the Toronto Early Childhood and Family Resource System Pathway & Resource Listing and its accompanying website (

Mothercraft College incorporates Ontario's new pedagogical framework for early learning into its curricula and develops practical training programs for licensed child care & family support practitioners across Toronto & Ontario.


Margaret Leslie is named 2014 Public Health Champion by the Toronto Board of Health for leadership in reducing health inequity, fostering collaboration to improve health, building community capacity through innovation and acting as a catalyst for positive change.

The Early Intervention Department releases "The Mother-Child Study: Evaluating Treatments for Substance—Using Women" and welcomes 150 professionals, policy makers and practitioners to a symposium in Toronto to disseminate the findings.


Mothercraft is approved to receive $2.29M over 5 years from the Public Health Agency of Canada to deliver a new project, Building Connections, across Canada as part of the Family Violence and Child Abuse Prevention Initiative.

Michele Lupa is invited to participate in Bridging Divides, an initiative of the Ryerson City Building Institute, aimed at developing concrete solutions to some of the biggest issues facing the GTHA region. Her theme, "Access to Services", is the topic of a live, on-line chat hosted by The Toronto Star.

Breaking the Cycle hosts Dr. Viliame Sotutu, Paediatrician and Senior Lecturer at the University of Otago in New Zealand, to discuss ways to replicate the Mothercraft model.

Data Analysis Coordinators contribute to the development of a new online resource to map family and child services in the City of Toronto.

In collaboration with community partners, the Common Intake Project is rolled out across the city with the aim of reducing the number of times families have to tell their stories when accessing specialized services for children.

Enrolment at Mothercraft College hits a new milestone – admissions are closed earlier than ever before due to high demand for the ECE Diploma program!

Completion and roll-out of the Common Intake Project. A city-wide initiative led by Mothercraft to streamline access to special needs services for children and make navigating the system easier for families.