Our History

1950 to 1969

  • In 1958, a small group of parents established a classroom for their children in the West End primary school in Port Hope.  The school was named Sunshine Heights.
  • The Association received its’ charter in 1959.  An organization to monitor and support this new school was named the Port Hope/Cobourg Association for Retarded Children.  The parents were the founding members of the executive.
  • In 1966, the Association expanded.  The parent group opened a sheltered workshop on Roe Street in Cobourg.  The Rebekahs and the Odd Fellow Lodge were important supporters of this initiative.  The charter name was revised to The Association for the Mentally Retarded, to more accurately reflect service provision to both children and adults.  The workshop was named ARC for Adult Rehabilitation Center.

1980 to 1989

  • The next major expansion occurred in 1981, with the building of a much larger workshop in Cobourg.  The number of people supported jumped from 13 people each day to 20, to 36 and then to 40.
  • As the demand for services increased in the mid eighties, three additional locations were opened in Port Hope and Cobourg.  In 1983, Life Skills Training Center opened in Port Hope.  In 1985, Supportive Employment Services and a Leisure Activities Program opened to support adults who had finished school.
  • In 1987, in keeping with a province-wide reform, the Association was again renamed to better reflect the times.  It was named the Port Hope/Cobourg & District Association for Community Living


  • In 1995, the Association again saw an expansion of services to adults when the local government facility, D’arcy Place Developmental Center, closed its doors.  This closure was part of the government’s initiative to close all institutions still operating across the province.  The Association welcomed 30 additional people.
  • In 1997, the Association began providing support to both children and youth.  This resulted in a change to the Association’s charter.
  • In 1999, the Association began a major restructuring of services.  Four support locations were closed; three Community Connection locations and the Life Skills Center.  The Community Living Resource Center and the Ontario Street locations were retained.
  • Three separate support streams were developed as a result of the restructuring, with a focus of providing more community based activities that would address people’s individual choices.  The Social/Recreation/Leisure Support Stream, which operates out of both the Port Hope and Cobourg locations, the Vocational Employment Stream and the Advanced Skills/fundamental Support Stream.
  • The initiative to support youths (aged 16-21), called Building Bridges, was provided more secure funding so the Association could continue to support families.  This initiative assists youths and families to plan for the transition from high school to life in the community.

2000 to 2009

  • In 2004, the Association received funding to provide a new program called Foundations Building the Steps to Community.  This initiative supports adults leaving school in an effort to make that successful transition to their life in the community.
  • In 2005, the Association welcomed the addition of EARN (Employment Assistance Resource Network).  The Association became an official Ontario Disability Support Program service provider for Employment Supports.  This program offers services to individuals who may have a barrier or disability to employment, as well as people who are at risk of losing their job due to their disability.
  • In 2006, Emotional Awareness training module was developed in partnership with the Department of Psychology and Research under Dr. parker at Trent University.  This program was designed for people of all ages to develop and enhance their overall emotional intelligence.
  • In 2006, workshops were developed and implemented to teach specialized skills in a group model for a specific time period.  The workshops goal was to offer people the opportunity for group interaction and learn specific skills.
  • In 2006, our Multi Sensory Room was developed to provide an opportunity for people who have sensory issues and/or developmental disabilities with an appropriate relaxation and leisure facility.  The Multi Sensory Room is available to all community members in Northumberland County free of charge.
  • In 2009, we launch our website www.communitylivingwestnorthumberland.ca
Donate Now Through CanadaHelps.org!
If you are interested in accessing our services and supports please contact us through this link.