The first ‘House of Providence’ was founded through the sponsorship of Toronto Bishop de Charbonnel, who sought permission from Pope Pius IX to build a house of charity to alleviate the poverty throughout the diocese.
Bishop de Charbonnel invited the U.S.-based Sisters of St. Joseph to come to the city. In 1851, four sisters arrived to run an orphanage, and quickly found other urgent needs. Most relief needed at the time came from the churches and private charities.
In 1857, the Sisters of St. Joseph opened the doors to the House of Providence on Power Street in downtown Toronto at what is now the Don Valley Parkway exit to Adelaide and Richmond Streets. At its peak, it provided accommodation for 700 elderly residents and orphans, people who were among the most vulnerable in society.
The House of Providence continued to care for orphans, widows, immigrants and the homeless until it moved to its present site in 1962 – a former farm owned by the Sisters of St. Joseph at the corner of Warden Avenue and St. Clair Avenue East. At this time, the focus of care changed to residential care for the elderly and sick and the name was changed to Providence Villa and Hospital.
As the needs of the community continued to change and evolve so too did we, and in 1990 the name was changed again to Providence Centre, to better reflect the diversity of services that were being offered to not only residents and patients, but also to people in the community.
The Sisters of St. Joseph sponsored Providence Centre until 1998. At that time, Catholic Health Sponsors of Ontario was entrusted with continuing their legacy of caring by assuming the sponsorship of Providence.
Another chapter in the facility’s history began in 2004, when the name was changed to Providence Healthcare.
On August 1, 2017, Providence, St. Joseph’s Health Centre and St. Michael’s Hospital officially became an integrated health network. The integration means that our collective team of more than 10,000 staff is now officially employees of the new health network. Each of our hospitals has a long and proud history of providing excellent and compassionate care to all, particularly those who experience marginalization or disadvantage. Our new health network presents an opportunity for us to reinvest in patient care as well as help patients and their families obtain better access to higher quality, integrated care.
In 2017, Providence also celebrated 160 years of providing a culture of community, compassion and innovation in care.
From the original House of Providence in downtown Toronto to the sprawling site it is today, our organization has both endured and thrived as a result of our ability to adapt to the changing needs of society.