The Start of Something Special

Dr. John Owen

Dr. John Owen
Cheshire Homes of Saskatoon Founder

In Saskatoon, the seeds of Cheshire Homes began when Dr. and Mrs. John Owen were asked by to determine if there was a need in Western Canada for a home that provided physically challenged adults with accessible and comfortable homes while providing personal support services. Dr. Owen held discussions with local health professionals, particularly Dr. A.R. (Peter) Huston and confirmed there was indeed a need for such a Home. On January 19, 1970, registration for Cheshire Homes of Saskatoon was effected under the Societies Act of Saskatchewan. Cheshire Homes of Saskatoon came into being with Dr. Owen as the first president.

The Board of Directors, fourteen in number, addressed itself to the following tasks:

  1. Identifying and documenting the need for a Cheshire Home
  2. Carrying out an educational program in the community
  3. Soliciting financial support from and through selected community organizations, particularly churches

In November 1970, a Brief containing proposals for establishing a 25 bed residential facility and requesting government support was submitted to the Interdepartmental Coordinating Committee on Rehabilitation. The Brief was turned down by the Committee. However, in 1972, the Coordinating Committee, now chaired by Donna Zdriluk, prepared and submitted a new brief to the Provincial Government. The Brief outlines a proposal for building five group homes, each to accommodate 8 residents, designed to resemble a family type dwelling.

In January 1972, Cheshire Homes was incorporated under the Saskatchewan Companies Act. The Kiwanis Club of Saskatoon agreed to provide up to $7,500 towards the cost of building the initial unit with the right of first refusal on future units.

On June 22, 1972, the Government announced the approval of construction of a special care home for eight physically disabled persons in the 18 to 50 age group requiring level 3 care. However, construction did not start until the fall of 1972 due to difficulties in having the plans approved.

After six years of frustrations and setbacks, the first home was ready for occupancy and the first residents moved in July 1975. The unit housed 8 residents in 4 single rooms and 2 double. The official opening of the Home took place May 26, 1976 with Group Captain Leonard Cheshire officiating.

One year later, application to construct a second group home for 10 physically disabled adults was present to the Government and approved. The second unit would be similar to the first with the supervisor supervising both units. Construction began in the fall of 1978 and was completed in May of 1979 with residents moving in during June and July 1979.

In 1981, the Government approved the construction of a third group home with negotiations beginning with the Saskatchewan Housing Corporation and the Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation regarding financing. The third home would have the same basic plan as House 2, yet with some improvements. The project was tendered in December 1982 for spring 1983 construction. Construction was completed and the residents began moving in October 1983.

In 1985, the suggestion was made that the two car garage be renovated to an activity room for the residents. Application was made to the City for a license and the Kinsmen Foundation agreed to pay for all materials for the conversion.

In the fall of 2006, the Board of Directors established a committee to investigate the possibility of a new housing option in Saskatoon for young adults with physical disabilities. The intent was to fill a niche for individuals who require attendant care services but want more independence and living space than would be available in a nursing home or group home setting.

Preliminary plans were drawn up for a new building that would include eight accessible apartment style units. Expressions of interest were sought from people in the community interested in living in this type of environment and discussions were undertaken with possible funding partners. Eventually an agreement was reached with Community Living Service Delivery to fund the operating costs of the new venture as well as a small portion of the capital cost. The bulk of the capital funding was to be raised through the sales of life leases to the residents who would be occupying the new suites. Financial commitments were obtained from eight individuals to purchase the life leases and the Board gave the formal approval for the project. In October of 2009 ground was broken, and after an eventful and difficult 16 months the grand opening ceremony finally took place on February 22, 2011 welcoming eight new residents.

Each of the eight units has its own bedroom, bathroom, living/office space, and a small kitchen area. There is a central laundry, kitchen and dining area. Attendant care staff, provided by Cheshire, are on site and available 24 hours through a pager call system. The original plans were revised to include a basement which holds a large storage area, a recreational room for meetings and larger gatherings, as well as four more bachelor suites which will be rented out to members of the general public who will serve as attendant care staff.

Today the property consists of 4 houses.

John Owen House
John Owen House (House 1)
Liberty House
Liberty House (House 2)
Freedom House
Freedom House (House 3)
Independence House
Independence House (House 4)