History of Occupational Therapy in the Province of Prince Edward Island

Prior to 1960

Prior to 1960 records are unclear as to whether or not there were any duly qualified occupational therapists on PEI.

  • There was apparently an occupational therapist, Carol Creelman, who worked at Riverside Hospital (now Hillsborough Hospital) circa 1955 and then moved to work in the USA.
  • There is mention of "craft workers" working under the title of Occupational Therapy at the Provincial Sanatorium (working with persons with tuberculosis and polio) and at Riverside Hospital (psychiatric institution).
  • In the minutes of the Provincial Commission of November 26, 1951, there is mention of a "Miss Clapp, Occupational Therapist at the Sanatorium who spent 1/5 of her time doing crafts with Polio children."

October, 1960 to September, 1965

  • Joyce MacKinnon, a 1960 Graduate of McGill University, is an Occupational Therapist at the Rehabilitation Centre in Charlottetown and is the only occupational Therapist on Prince Edward Island.
  • An Occupational Therapy department is added to the Rehabilitation Centre in 1961 and construction of the department continues until 1965-66.
  • Joyce takes a sabbatical beginning in September, 1965 to further her education.

September to December, 1965

  • Heather MacLeod, a combined OT/PT Graduate from McGill University, was hired to fill in as an Occupational Therapist at the rehabilitation Centre until Judy Archer's return from university. Heather had been practicing PT before this.

October, 1965

  • Judy Archer (Irwin in 1970), a combined OT/PT graduate of the University of Toronto and a Department of Health Bursary student owing 47 months of work in the province, returns to PEI to take a position as a Physiotherapist.
  • On her arrival in the Physiotherapy department, Judy is instructed to join Heather MacLeod for orientation in Occupational Therapy. She resists this dramatically but accepts it and continues with the design and development of the OT department.
  • Judy is Sole Charge Occupational Therapist until Joyce MacKinnon's return in May, 1966.
  • An OT Assistant is a part of the staffing mix

May, 1966

  • Joyce MacKinnon returns to PEI for the summer, resuming her position as Charge Occupational Therapist.
  • Joyce leaves in September 1966 to work in the USA.

September, 1966

  • Judy Archer once again becomes Sole Charge OT at the Rehabilitation Centre.
  • Judy remains the only Occupational Therapist at the Rehabilitation Centre until October, 1972 when she takes her first of two maternity leaves.

Occupational Therapy starts to grow.........

August, 1972

  • Mari Basiletti, an Occupational Therapy graduate of Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, is hired at Riverside/Hillsborough Hospital, a psychiatric/mental health facility.
  • Now there are 2 Occupational Therapists on PEI

October, 1972

  • Elizabeth Baglole (Townsend), a combined graduate in Physical and Occupational Therapy of the University of Toronto, arrives at the Rehabilitation Centre looking for work in Physiotherapy to find that there were no positions available.
  • Liz had met Judy at U of T and had seen her during a placement on PEI. She happened to visit Judy in the OT Department and reported her inability to find a position in PT.
  • Judy (now Irwin) seizes the opportunity to suggest to Liz that she work as an Occupational Therapist and replace her when she starts maternity leave the following week.
  • Liz fills Judy Irwin's position at the Rehabilitation Centre as Sole Charge Occupational Therapist.
  • There are now 3 Occupational Therapists in PEI.

November, 1972

  • Three Occupational Therapists form the first Prince Edward Island Occupational Therapy Society while sitting around Liz's kitchen table with a good cup of tea. Members are Liz Baglole, Mari Basiletti, and Judy Irwin.
  • One of the first mandates of the PEIOTS was to work on the licensing act for occupational therapists working on PEI.

March, 1973

  • Judy Irwin returns to half-time work at the Rehabilitation Centre
  • Now there are 1.5 OT Positions at the Rehabilitation Centre
  • In the early spring Liz Baglole and Judy Irwin presented a copy of the first draft of a Licensing Act, to govern the practice of Occupational Therapists on Prince Edward Island, to Bruce Stewart, Minister of Health.
  • Liz and Judy were in a MVA on the way to that memorable appointment when they were broad-sided and driven into a tree by a man running a stop sign. Both were stunned in the accident and documents strewn on the floor of Judy's brand new Volkswagen van. Liz managed to get to a nearby house, find a phone, and call ahead to say they'd be late. She then coerced the local police to drive them to the appointment instead of the ER. The copy of our draft was quickly wiped off and then presented to the Minister smudged with Island mud. Although the meeting was a bit of a blur, the presentation was well received! Liz and Judy were checked out in the ER after the meeting. We don't recall who drove us there!

Summer, 1973

  • Cathy Wild, a graduate of the University of British Columbia, is a student at the Rehabilitation Centre for two months (June/July).
  • Liz convinces, as only she can, the powers that be that another occupational therapist is warranted in the Rehabilitation Centre.
  • Cathy Wild then stays on as staff therapist until July of 1975. Now there are 2.5 positions there.

Fall, 1973

  • Three Occupational Therapists from Prince Edward Island attend the first ever OT Atlantic Conference in Saint John, New Brunswick. This was the first of what was to become an annual event. The story is that there had been a conference for therapists in the Atlantic region in Halifax at one point, but there was no follow-up.


  • The first draft of the "Registered Occupational Therapists" Act is brought before the Prince Edward Island Legislature.
  • A handful of Occupational Therapists (5), friends, and patients host the second annual Atlantic OT Conference, "PEI Sampler", in therapists' homes.


  • Janet Gendron is staff therapist at the Special Care Unit of the Provincial Sanitorium.
  • The "Registered Occupational Therapists" Act and Regulations are passed in the Prince Edward Island Legislature.
  • The Prince Edward Island Association of Occupational Therapists is formed as a licensing board for all Occupational Therapists practicing on the Island.


  • Judy Irwin becomes the first Director from Prince Edward Island on the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists' Board of Directors when that board became truly national.


  • In April of this year, a three-year Health and Welfare grant is obtained to demonstrate the use of Occupational Therapy services in the community in physical medicine.


  • PEI hosts the OT Atlantic Conference with an appearance by the "Bandaids". The Conference is held at The Rehabilitation Centre and Hillsborough Hospital with about 40 conference delegates. There were 55 attendees at the social evening at Judy Irwin's home.


  • The Provincial Government takes over the Community Occupational Therapy Demonstration Program (Project).
  • A Community Mental Health Program is begun by the Prince Edward Island Department of Health. One Occupational Therapist is employed on each of the three county mental health teams.


  • In April the Occupational Therapy Department of the Rehabilitation Centre moves to become a part of the Physical Medicine Department at the new Queen Elizabeth Hospital. The therapists employed at the Rehabilitation Centre had some input with the planning of the new department.
  • Over 70 participants attend the OT Atlantic Conference at the Rodd Motor Inn in Charlottetown. Dr. Hamilton Hall is guest speaker.
  • Liz Townsend (Baglole) joins the staff of the OT School at Dalhousie University in Halifax on July 1st.


  • Judy Irwin is appointed a founding member of the Canadian Occupational Therapy Foundation.


  • There are 18 Occupational Therapists employed on Prince Edward Island.
  • In May, two Islanders are members of the first graduating class of the School of Occupational Therapy, Dalhousie University: Dawna Clow, from Kensington, and Denise Johnston from Murray River.
  • Dawna takes a position as staff therapist at the QEH starting the last week of April.
  • Denise also takes a position as staff therapist at the QEH.
  • In May the PEIOTS becomes an affiliate member of the CAOT.


  • PEI hosts the OT Atlantic Conference at the Charlottetown Hotel.


  • John Eldon Green and Dr. Gustave Gingras receive a CAOT/PEIOTS citation for their individual dedication to, and work with, our profession.


  • Registered OT Act revised and proclaimed in the provincial Legislature.
  • Gladys MacMillan receives a CAOT/PEIOTS citation for her contribution to and support of the profession.


  • Kaye Reynolds receives a CAOT/PEIOTS citation for her efforts in the field of rehabilitation.
  • PEI hosts the OT Atlantic Conference at the CP Prince Edward Hotel.


  • PEIOTS designs a logo with Wayne ready, the husband of OT, Janet Ready.


  • Judy Irwin is awarded a citation by the PEIOTS in recognition of her many years of service and dedication to the profession.


  • Liz Townsend (Baglole) receives a citation from the PEIOTS for her contribution to OT on PEI.


  • PEI hosts the OT Atlantic Conference at McLaughlins Hotel in Charlottetown.


  • Jackie Beacom, therapist at Hillsborough Hospital, retires and is awarded the first Life Membership in the PEIOTS.


  • Major revision to the Occupational Therapists' Act proclaimed July 1st in the Provincial Legislature. The Registered OT Act RSPEI 1988 is repealed.
  • The licensing body (PEI Association of Occupational Therapists) becomes the PEI Occupational Therapists Registration Board.
  • The registration board has its first Lay Person in Nora Jenkins, Manager of Volunteer Services at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. She served the Board from March 1995 to June, 1999 and was involved in the rewriting/revision of the Act and Regulations.


  • Liz Townsend (Baglole) is appointed Director of the OT School at Dalhousie University on July 1st for a five-year term.


  • Mari Basiletti is awarded a citation by the PEIOTS in recognition of her long service and dedication to the profession.


  • Judy Irwin receives a Life Membership Award in CAOT during the national CAOT Conference in Toronto. Judy was present to receive this.


  • PEI hosts the OT Atlantic Conference at Shaws Hotel in Brackley.


  • Liz Townsend (Baglole) reappointed Director of the OT School at Dalhousie on July 1st for a second 5-year term.


  • Judy Irwin, Pioneer in OT in the province, retires on May 28.
  • A first: PEI co-hosts (with CAOT staff) CAOT National Conference at the Delta Prince Edward in Charlottetown, June 22-26. The host committee represents 54% of the OTs on PEI! There are 400+ registrants and 226 attend the Friday night social. A resounding success! This is the first conference to be co-hosted with CAOT to enable smaller groups of therapists, like PEI, to host the conference.
  • Heather Cutcliffe is awarded the CAOT Innovative Practice Award at the Awards ceremony during the national CAOT Conference in Charlottetown.
  • There are 33 occupational therapists practicing on PEI.
  • The third revision (a major one, a rewriting) of the act regarding the licensing of Occupational Therapists on PEI goes to the fall sitting of the Provincial Legislature and is given Royal Assent.


  • There are 35 occupational therapists registered to practice on PEI.
  • Nora Jenkins is awarded a CAOT/PEIOTS Citation during OT Month at the Rodd Charlottetown Hotel for her contribution to the profession � supporting 20+ students to pursue careers in OT and for her work with PEIOTRB.
  • Judy Irwin is awarded a Life membership in the PEIOTS.


  • PEI hosts the OT Atlantic Conference at the Loyalist Inn and Suites in Summerside


  • Marie Brine is awarded the CAOT Innovative Practice Award at the awards ceremony during the national CAOT Conference in Whitehorse.
  • Ruth Phillips receives a CAOT/PEIOTS Citation for advocacy and work with our profession around prevention of musculoskeletal injuries.


  • PEI hosts the OT Atlantic Conference at the Rodd Royalty in Charlottetown


  • Paul Hughes, OT Technician at the QEH, receives a CAOT/PEIOTS Citation for his client-centeredness and support of the profession.
  • PEIOTS celebrates 40 years!


  • Heather Cutcliffe is awarded the first "Joy Mill Award for Outstanding Contribution to Occupational Therapy" for her recognition of her many years of hard work and dedication to the profession of Occupational Therapy on PEI.


  • Lynda Lowry-Rayner was awarded a CAOT Life membership at the national conference in Banff for her many contributions as a clinician


  • PEI OT Society hosted the CAOT Conference June 21-24; over 500 delegates participated in pre-conference and conference activities


  • PEI Occupational Therapists Registration Board transitioned to PEI College of Occupational Therapists February 1st
  • There are 70 occupational therapists registered to practice in PEI

Updated February 23, 2018

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