Rideau Regional Centre

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Rideau Regional Centre
Opened 1951
Closed 2009
Current Status Preserved
Building Style Cottage Plan
Location Smith Falls, ONT
Peak Patient Population 2,650
Alternate Names
  • Ontario Hospital School, Smiths Falls
  • Rideau Regional Hospital School
  • Rideau Regional Centre


The Rideau Regional Centre, located in Smiths Falls, Ontario, opened in 1951 as the Ontario Hospital School. Along with similar residential institutions throughout Ontario, it was designed to house individuals who were deemed to have cognitive and physical disabilities. Individuals could be admitted by parents and guardians, training schools, or the Children’s Aid Society. At its peak, Rideau’s population exceeded 2,600 people in 1955, even though it was only built to accommodate 1,500. By the mid 1970s, the Ontario government operated 16 such facilities across the province.

In the 1950s and 60s, there were few community services and supports available for individuals with developmental disabilities and their families. That began changing in the 1970s when schools and workshops and other community support for people with developmental disabilities were introduced. Rideau was one of the last three facilities of its kind in Ontario, along with the Southwestern Regional Centre in Chatham-Kent and the Huronia Regional Centre in Orillia, all of which closed in 2009. [1]. The property is now home to several private businesses using the old hospital buildings.