Hope Acres marks 50th anniversary

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For 50 years, men have been coming to the country to set on a path to recovery.

Salvation Army officer Joshua Monk had a vision for a country retreat for the men at Toronto Harbour Light Ministries treatment centre, a place within relative proximity to Toronto but away from the distractions of the city.

Over five decades, Hope Acres has evolved from being an extension of the Jarvis Street Harbour Light program into a primary addiction treatment centre.

In 1966, a piece of farmland in Glencairn was purchased and the process began to transform it into a place of hope. The idea was to give clients a place to heal physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

Three days after the Salvation Army took possession of the property in April, a work crew from Jarvis Street Harbour Light arrived to begin converting the barn into a dormitory and workshops.

Hope Acres officially opened May 6, 1967 by commissioner Edgar Grinstead who dedicated it as “a place where people could escape the sordid alleys of Hell’s acres through the aid of Hope Acres”.

The farmhouse was converted to offices, kitchen and dining room, and a bungalow was built for the directors. The new lodge, which housed offices, kitchen and dining facilities for up to 36 men, opened in 1971. In 1979, the barn was destroyed by fire. A man trapped inside had to be rescued from an upper floor window but no one was seriously injured. The following year, a modern shop and new quarters were built.

Today, having outgrown the chapel, services are held in the shop building and the farmhouse serves as transitional housing.

“My wife Kathleen and I had the great privilege of being stationed at Hope Acres from 2001-2005 and it was a highlight of our career,” wrote Major Ian McAlister. “While we did not always succeed with our clients, we saw many who changed their life around and went on to remain clean and productive. We saw family reconciliations and continued to hear from former clients down through the years. We thank God for the opportunities to be part of Hope Acres in every way and we know that God will continue to be honoured in the work done at this marvelous place.”

Bryan Davies photo: Hope Acres directors Major Debbie and Major Dale Steward accept a certificate of achievement from Adjala-Tosorontio Mayor Mary Small Brett at the treatment centre’s 50th Anniversary on Sept. 10.

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