Our Milestones through

140 years

SickKids has been at the forefront of children's health for 140 years, solving mysteries and saving lives. Don’t miss the Murdoch Mysteries two-hour holiday special with a unique connection to SickKids on Monday, December 21 at 8 p.m.

1875 - The Hospital for Sick Children opens its doors

The Hospital for Sick Children opens its doors

In the year 1875, a certain Mrs. Elizabeth McMaster made an elementary deduction: given that over the previous 50 years almost half of recorded deaths in Toronto were those of children under 10, something had to be done. Compassionate of heart and clear of eye, Mrs. McMaster (in concert with a group of equally forward-thinking women) opened a hospital on rented premises 'for the admission and treatment of all sick children', regardless of their financial condition. Strength of character, conviction and six iron cots formed the foundation of the noble enterprise that was to become The Hospital for Sick Children.

1892 - From 16 beds to 320

From 16 beds to 320

A genuine metropolis – as bustling Toronto was fast becoming – was in need of a more suitable children's hospital. With John Ross Robertson, publisher of the Evening Telegram at the helm of the Hospital's Board of Trustees, the Hospital assumed a new premises: an airy, four-storey edifice on College St with room for 320 beds, designed on the most up-to-date principles for the promotion of health.

1908 - The first Canadian milk pasteurization plant

The first Canadian milk pasteurization plant

A new century had no need of an old scourge. And typhoid was undoubtedly an old scourge. Dr. Louis Pasteur had made the famous discovery – that heating killed germs – in 1862. The forward-thinking Hospital staff insisted that a milk pasteurization plant be installed onsite, to prevent the spread of disease through contaminated milk, 30 years before pasteurization became mandatory across the Dominion.

1920 - The Hospital for Sick Children pioneers blood transfusion for children.

The Hospital for Sick Children pioneers blood transfusion for children

Dr. Karl Landsteiner of Vienna solved the mystery of blood compatibility in 1900 – it came in 4 main groups that had to be matched based on type. (Clever chap, Dr. Karl). However, it was not until the horrors of the Great War that doctors were able to discern how to successfully preserve, store, and transfuse blood. Based on their harrowing experiences treating battlefield traumas, a group of brilliant young physicians were eager to apply the life-saving techniques learned in the trenches to Toronto's tots.

1930 - Researchers at the Hospital for Sick Children invent Pablum

Researchers at the Hospital for Sick Children invent Pablum

The twenties may have roared, but still infant malnutrition menaced bassinets from outport-to-farm-to-town. Pablum, the low-cost, quick-to-prepare, nutrient-enriched cereal was the Hospital's miracle solution to infant malnutrition. Another of Canada's gifts to the world.

1954 - Research Institute established at The Hospital for Sick Children

Research Institute established at The Hospital for Sick Children

After the Second World War, the time had come to focus on innovation to tackle the unique challenges of children’s health here at home. The Research Institute was the first of its kind at SickKids and, to this day, it remains the largest child based health research institute in Canada.

1957 - Groundbreaking surgery to repair congenital dislocation of the hips

Groundbreaking surgery to repair congenital dislocation of the hips

Dr. Robert Salter, preeminent surgeon at The Hospital for Sick Children, pioneered a surgical technique that would allow children to stand and walk normally. The good doctor’s innovative work in the area of orthopaedic surgery, disorders and injuries of the musculoskeletal system, revolutionized the way joint injuries are treated around the world.

1963 - Cardiac surgery to correct 'blue babies'

Cardiac surgery to correct ‘blue babies’

In 1963, Dr. William Mustard made one of his many outstanding contributions in cardiac surgery for children; devising an ingenious and effective operation to obtain total correction of transposition of the great vessels - a heart condition that was common and fatal. This procedure is now referred to throughout the surgical world as the 'Mustard Procedure'. Breakthroughs like these served the Hospital’s growing reputation well. Around town, and across the province, the Hospital became affectionately known as 'SickKids' – based on a track record of success and dedication to the health of children everywhere.

1968 - The PICU opened at SickKids, one of the first in North America

The PICU opened at SickKids, one of the first in North America

As the space race surged in the ‘60s, so too did the commitment and resolve of SickKids; which had clearly emerged as an international leader in the race to save young lives with the opening of The Paediatric ICU.

1972 - SickKids Foundation, the fundraising arm of the Hospital, is established

SickKids Foundation, the fundraising arm of the Hospital, is established

Sideburns and bell bottoms were the style of the day. The needs of the Hospital in the early ‘70s were changing alongside the fashion on the street, SickKids was still striving to solve the ongoing challenges associated with children’s health. Many conditions had been conquered, but the Hospital was facing increasingly complex challenges. There was a clear need to establish a viable fundraising arm for the Hospital. Since '72, SickKids Foundation, and its 232,000 donors, has been the largest charitable funder of child health research in Canada. The generosity and support from private and public donors has lead to the development of many additional breakthroughs in the years to follow.

1976 - Canada's 1st bone marrow transplant program begins

Canada’s 1st bone marrow transplant program begins

A patient needs healthy bone marrow in order to counter the detrimental effects of chemotherapy and radiation treatment for cancer. With this invaluable pioneering treatment, SickKids doctors have helped countless young patients to achieve long, cancer-free lives.

1989 -  Dr. Lap-Chee Tsui & team discover the cystic fibrosis gene

Dr. Lap-Chee Tsui & team discover the cystic fibrosis gene

A world-beating discovery that uncovered the gene that causes cystic fibrosis; achieved as the direct result of pure research. Research that would not have been possible without SickKids and their caring donors. Suddenly, we had the key to the most common fatal genetic disease in Canadian kids. From here, life-extending genetically-based treatments were a possibility.

2009 - World's first cardiac surgery in utero.

World’s first cardiac surgery in utero

Saving kids who have not been born. Together, we have come so far.

2013 - Peter Gilgan Centre for Research and Learning opens.

Peter Gilgan Centre for Research and Learning opens

The SickKids Research Institute was spread out across six sites. Today, 2000 members – in 237 active labs – are assembled under one roof, in a building expressly designed for the kind of interdisciplinary cross-pollination that has a transformative impact on kids’ health. The PGCRL is 21 storeys of ideas, learning, and innovation. And SickKids' endorsement of the 21st century paradigm: brilliant thinkers, thinking together.

2014 - North America's 1st incisionless bone tumour surgery.

North America’s 1st incisionless bone tumour surgery

The possibility of the removal of cancerous tumours in the ossuary extremities without aid of a scalpel would have boggled even the most astute medical minds of the 20th century. SickKids and Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre's surgeons can now perform such medical marvels in the CIGITI suite, with MRI and focussed ultrasound.

2015 - What's next for SickKids…

What’s next for SickKids…

In 2015, SickKids celebrated its 140th birthday. That's 140 years of pushing the envelope of what's possible in child health care, research and learning in Canada. Today, SickKids is thinking beyond the walls of the Hospital, and acting globally. Whether it's training nurses in Ghana, improving cancer care for children in the Caribbean, or bringing children to The Hospital for Sick Children for procedures not available in their home country through the Herbie Fund, SickKids is realizing its vision: Healthier Children. A Better World.