The seeds for St. Michael’s Homes were sown in the 1970’s when, through a significant government initiative and funding, sixteen non-medical detoxification centres with affiliated halfway houses were opened in Ontario. The idea was that individuals would be assisted in the detoxes and then, after a few days, would move on to some form of rehabilitation such as a “halfway house” which would provide a more stable setting in which to move towards sobriety and towards a return to a useful part in the life of the community.
Some of the principles who were involved in the St. Michael’s Hospital detox, including Sister Anne Marie Carey, csj and a number of other interested individuals, met in October 1973 to begin planning for a halfway house and the group formed the nucleus of a Board of Directors for the project. On March 26, 1974, St. Michael’s Halfway Homes was established through Letters Patent issued by the Province of Ontario as a not-for-profit corporation without share capital. On January 1, 1976, a little over two years after the first gathering of friends, St.Michael’s Halfway House (now known as St. Michael’s House One) was opened at 277 Rusholme Road. The house had been converted into a sixteen-bed residence, providing counselling, therapy and a home-like environment for recovering alcoholics referred by St. Michael’s Detox and other sources.
Within a very short time another need was identified by St. Michael’s Halfway Homes, that of the low or no income elderly and ill men whose probabilities of self-supported rehabilitation seemed slight; individuals who might have only the most temporary of lodgings and absence of support. The project that began in response to this need resulted in the opening of Matt Talbot House One in 1978, which is located at 234 Carlton Street, in a rental property owned by Toronto Community Housing Corp. and which initially housed 18 older men. In 1983, a second house, Matt Talbot Two, was rented and soon after purchased by St. Michael’s Halfway Homes. It is located one block south of the first house at 262 Gerrard St. East, which also initially housed 18 men. Currently, Matt Talbot Houses have a total capacity of forty-nine clients.
Since 1978, several Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto made their home in the Matt Talbot Houses and were committed to both the clients and life in the houses. They shared, on a voluntary basis, in all aspects of the work of the houses and provided an essential element of stability. In 2003, the Sisters of St. Joseph withdrew from Matt Talbot as the sisters were needed in other missions. They are remembered with gratitude and affection for their years of commitment to the clients and staff of the Matt Talbot Houses. In 1988, St. Michael’s House Two, located at 35 Northumberland Street, opened and serves as a 10 bed residence for the St. Michael’s Houses residential treatment program.
Today, St. Michael’s Homes (our name was amended in 2005) provides two programs within our rehabilitative homes to serve a total of 75 individuals in our residential settings. Our founding philosophy and mission continue to inspire and direct us today in our desire to offer aid to vulnerable persons seeking an improved quality of life beyond their addictions to alcohol and drugs. As a Catholic agency, our work continues to be an expression of the fundamental respect for human dignity through attentiveness to five essential realities of the human person:
Spiritual – Communal – Educational – Institutional – Service
We are pleased to have the opportunity to work with other individuals and service providers in the wider community in support of our work at St. Michael’s Homes. We are also grateful for the support of our funders, Toronto Central LHIN, Ministry of Health and Long Term Care, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Toronto, ShareLife, donors and benefactors to this vital work of providing residential treatment and supportive residential rehabilitative programs to those who seek rehabilitation from their addictions to alcohol and drugs.