The History of Therapeutic Clowning in Canada

 

A Chronology:

 

1986

Karen Ridd (Robo the Clown) approaches Ruth Kettner (manager) and Renee Ethans (CHTV director) of the Child Life Department at Winnipeg Children's Hospital, and the first Canadian therapeutic clown program is founded (May 1986). This is probably the first formal therapeutic clown program in the world, and has been under the direction of David Langdon since 1989.

 

1993

The Therapeutic Clown Program at SickKids Hospital in Toronto was launched in 1993 through Joan Barrington's fundraising initiatives. In the introductory year, Karen Ridd aka Robo of Winnipeg, mentored Joan in therapeutic clowning and Bunky was born.   

 

1994

The "Doc Willikers" Therapeutic Clown Program is founded at B.C.'s Children's Hospital in Vancouver (March, 1994) under the direction of Paul Hooson, after being inspired by the clown doctors of the Big Apple Circus' "Clown Care Unit" in New York City (founded in Oct. 1986). This introduced the clown doctor approach to therapeutic clowning to this country for the first time, thereby becoming Canada's first professional Clown Doctor Program.

(click here for more)

 

1997

The "Doc Willikers" Therapeutic Clown Program expands to include Sunnyhill Health Centre for Children (Vancouver).

"Nobody's Fool: but Everybody's Laughing (A Celebration of Canadian Clowning)", a conference on humour and health, brings together therapeutic clowns, Joan Barrington, Camilla Gryski, Paul Hooson and David Langdon for the first time. As Canada's only therapeutic clowns, they discuss the future of therapeutic clowning in Canada. Conference presented by Sue Proctor and Clownwise Inc.

 

1998

Mary Hirst facilitates a work session in Toronto bringing together Joan Barrington, Camilla Gryski, Paul Hooson and David Langdon to discuss the future of therapeutic clowning in Canada.

The second "Nobody's Fool: but Everybody's Laughing" conference in Winnipeg is presented by Sue Proctor and Clownwise Inc.

 

1999

Mary Hirst and Joan Barrington founded Therapeutic Clowns Canada (TCC), a non-profit foundation created to help bring therapeutic clowning to all major pediatric facilities across Canada through the provision of seed funding and the training of therapeutic clown practitioners.

The third "Nobody's Fool: but Everybody's Laughing" conference in Winnipeg, is presented by Sue Proctor and Clownwise Inc.

 

2000

The "Doc Willikers" Therapeutic Clown Program is established at Canuck Place Hospice for Children, Canada's first free-standing Pediatric Palliative Care facility.

 

2001

Fools For Health founded in Windsor, Ontario by University of Windsor Prof. Bernie Warren, working in both pediatric and elder care.

(click here for more)

 

Therapeutic Clowns Canada Foundation founds program at Credit Valley (Mississauga) under the direction of Lucia Cino.

 

"Play It Again: a conference on humour, play, creativity, and the arts" again brings together therapeutic clowns from across Canada, as well as others interested in the therapeutic applications of humour and creativity. Conference is presented by Sue Proctor and Clownwise Inc.

 

2002

Dr Clown founded in Montreal under the direction of Melissa Holland, Olivier Hugues-Terreault, and Florence Vinit, delivering services to pediatric and elder care facilities.

 

TCC Foundation founds a program at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario, under the direction of Ruth Cull.

 

2003

TCC Foundation founds a program at Trillium (Toronto/Mississauga).

 

David Langdon (Hubert the Clown of Winnipeg Children's Hospital) adds a clown doctor persona to his repertoire and begins to use the two different clown personae to connect and work with different elements of the hospital's population.

 

2004

"Challenging Stereotypes: A Celebration of Arts in Community" is presented by the Canadian Centre on Disability Studies. The program featured therapeutic clowns from Vancouver, Winnipeg, Toronto, and Montreal. An ad hoc meeting of the therapeutic clowns at this conference leads to the creation of The Canadian Association of Therapeutic Clowns/ L'Association Canadienne des Clowns Therapeutiques (CATC/ACCT).

 

TCC Foundation founds programs at:
St. Boniface General Hospital (Winnipeg), under the direction of Sue Proctor and Pat Holbrow
Alberta Children's Hospital (Calgary), under the direction of Cheryl Oberg (click here for more)
London Health Sciences Centre (London, ON), under the direction of Ken Sperling
Bloorview Kids Rehab (Toronto), under the direction of Jamie Burnett  (
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2005

After nine years as Therapeutic Clown Posy at SickKids in Toronto, Camilla Gryski founds Therapeutic Clown Services in Toronto, the first Canadian Therapeutic Clown private practice.

 

The Canadian Association of Therapeutic Clowns/ L'Association Canadienne des Clowns Therapeutiques (CATC/ACCT) is founded with 27 charter members.

 

The first annual CATC/ACCT symposium is held in Montreal.

 

2006

Karen Ridd is honoured at the second annual CATC/ACCT symposium in Winnipeg, celebrating 20 years of Therapeutic Clowning in Canada.

 

TCC Foundation founds a program at IWK (Halifax), under the direction of Cleve Sauer.

 

2007

Mary Hirst honoured for her work with Therapeutic Clowns Canada Foundation at the 3rd annual CATC/ACCT symposium in Toronto.

TCC Foundation disbands, having met its mandate to found Therapeutic Clown Programs from coast to coast. 

 

Dr Clown opens operations in Toronto under the direction of Kathleen Le Roux and Jamie Burnett.

 

2008

The fourth annual CATC/ACCT symposium is held in Calgary, Alberta.

 

2009

The fifth annual CATC/ACCT symposium is held in Montreal, Quebec.

 

2010

The sixth annual CATC/ACCT symposium is held in Calgary, Alberta.

 

2011

The 7th Annual CATC/ACCT symposium is held in Winnipeg : "Celebrating 25 Years of Therapeutic Clowning and Clown Doctoring in Canada and the United States".  Michael Christensen was honoured along with Canadian therapeutic clown pioneers Karen Ridd and Renee Ethans.

(click here for more)

 

The Dr Clown team in Toronto makes a transition into private practice. Dr Clown Toronto closes and Kathleen Le Roux establishes an independent practice, partnering with independent therapeutic clown practitioners, Heather Annis and Denise Oliver.

 

2012

CATC/ACCT membership votes to relieve the administrative load of maintaining an Association in favour of establishing a professional network comprised of the same individuals.

 

2013

Paul Hooson retires after 20 years of service; Sand Northrup takes over administration of Therapeutic Clown Program at BC Children’s Hospital (formerly Doc Williker’s Therapeutic Clown Program”)

 

2014

Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital hosts a Symposium on Clowning in Therapeutic Environments.  

At this symposium, Canadian Therapeutic Clowns vote to adopt the name Therapeutic Clowns Canada Network.

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2018

After invitations to take 'Bunky' and therapeutic clowning to El Salvador, Colombia, Mexico and Cuba, Joan Barrington was inspired to incorporate the non-profit Therapeutic Clowns International (TCI) in 2014.   Since Joan's first visit to Cuba in 2009, the Group of Therapeutic Clowns of Cuba was established.  In 2018, the first 'Cuban Congress of Therapeutic Clowns: Art and Health' was successfully held in Havana.