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Over Sixty Years Representing Ontario's Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists!


Over sixty years ago in 1958, three provincial organizations were founded. At the time there were two other provincial associations. The British Columbia Association had been founded the preceding year and the Quebec association was three years old. This significant year, three additional “speech and hearing” associations were founded: Manitoba, Ontario, and Saskatchewan.


What had preceded this year in the professions in Canada?

Services had begun in the 1930's. Before 1940, there were services in only three locations: Montreal Children’s Hospital, Toronto Hospital for Sick Children, and the Winnipeg School Division. 5 Each of the three programs had different origins. All have continued to the present time.

The Professional Scene in Canada in 1958 There is no record of the number of professionals working in Canada in 1958. The Hall Report, 2 published in 1965, estimated that in 1961 there were between 100 and 125 speech therapists and audiologists working in Canada. Their report did not differentiate the two professions. By 1968, the estimate was 200 speech therapists and audiologists 3. In 1958, there were services provided in seven of ten provinces. Services started in the 1960s in Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island, and New Brunswick. Most professionals, except in major cities, were working in isolation.


Clinical Practice

As late as 1969, a report stated, “Speech pathology and audiology are relatively new professions in Canada.”4 The only record we have of clinical practice from the decade is the 1952 thesis of Isabel Richard, A Handbook of Speech and Hearing Therapists in the Winnipeg School Division.5 She used the terms “speech correction” and “speech therapy,” a reflection of the changing terminology. In Chapter V, An Orientation to the Types of Disorders, she did not list “language disorders” but when she described “delayed speech,” she explained, “Children develop speech out of a need for language, to make their needs known. If there is a lack of incentive, there is no need for speech...” The suggestions for parents and teachers, Chapter VI, under the heading “Articulation” list: “ 3. Widen the child’s experience by visiting the neighbourhood stores, a site where building construction is taking place, repairing a road, a garden project, etc. (and) 4. Read nursery rhymes and stories to the child. Point out the pictures and name them. Introduce new words gradually...” These suggestions would have been appropriate to expand the child’s language as well.


Educational Programs

There were only two educational programs in Canada in 1958. The University of Montreal (1956), French and the University of Toronto (1958), English. All of the professions practicing in Canada earlier had received their professional education in other countries, primarily in the United States and the United Kingdom. Both these countries had long established professional associations and educational institutions.


The LCST and University Professional Education

Almost all of the early professionals educated outside Canada were of two different professional backgrounds. This resulted in some differences and sometimes dissension in professional associations. The Licentiate of the College of Speech Therapists (LCST) was a qualification issued by the British College of Speech Therapists (now The Royal College of Speech-Language Therapists.) The candidate had to pass a written and clinical examination after three years of education at special schools of speech therapy. Audiology was considered a different profession with a separate organization. The professionals who received their professional education in the U.S. had university degrees – either a bachelor or a master’s. In the Ontario Speech and Hearing Association, two members resigned in the first year over the issue of the LCST; they were adamant that only a master’s degree be acceptable. The division was later healed and the two members rejoined.6 The proportion of university degree and LCST professionals varied by province. There were few LCSTs working in Manitoba and a much larger proportion in Saskatchewan and Ontario. The LCST was not recognized in the province of Quebec.7 Beginning in the 1970s, educational programs in the United Kingdom gradually changed to granting degrees.



Several women who would become influential in the professions in Canada were working in 1958. Among them were: Isabel French Richard and Mary Jane Cairns in Winnipeg, Mary Cardozo in Montreal, Marie Crickmay in Victoria, and Jean Ward in Toronto. The first service in Ontario was the Toronto Hospital for Sick Children started by Ruth Lewis. The date is not documented but it was most likely in 1938. She held a master’s degree in Psychology from the University of Toronto and a Licentiate of the College of Speech Therapists (LCST) in London. Ruth Lewis, one of the founders, was the first president of the Ontario Association Membership in the Canadian Speech and Hearing Association. Four of the above are listed as charter members of the Canadian Speech and Hearing Association (CSHA, now CASLPA) in its 1965 directory. The directory, the first official CSHA publication, was edited by Isabel Richard. She was elected its first president at the founding meeting in 1964. In 1965, Ruth Lewis was still at the Hospital for Sick Children and a lecturer at the University of Toronto, and Isabel and Mary Jane were at the Child Guidance Clinic in Winnipeg. Dorothy Washington, however, was listed as being on the Faculty of Education at the University of British Columbia.


The Mobility Factor

Because all the early professionals were educated in other countries, their professional identification sometimes remained there. Those who were recruited from other countries to work in Canada were, by nature, mobile. Many worked in various areas of Canada. Many maintained membership in the professional association where they were educated and/or in the closest national association, the American one. For example, in 1944, there were five members of the American Speech and Hearing Association (ASHA, now the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association) working in Canada. In 1956, there were 42 members in the ASHA directory listed as working in Canada, including three in Manitoba, two in Saskatchewan, 17 in Ontario. Often family and colleagues’ networks led them to return to the country of origin for professional meetings. There were many positions available, which added to the mobility. Large caseloads and working in isolation also contributed. Geographic distances meant that professional meetings in the United States were often closer than those across the country in Canada. There was no national association in Canada until 1964 – thirty years after services began. The founding meeting of the Canadian Speech and Hearing Association was at the convention of ASHA. The mobility, the distances, the isolation of sole-charge positions all contributed to the difficulty in mentoring. Also contributing to the mobility was the gender factor. The majority of those practicing were women. Many women permanently or temporarily left the professions when they married and/or when they had children. Women were expected to move locations when their partners did. All these factors increased the already frequent mobility.


Limited Availability of Data

In any discussion of the professions in Canada, one must note the limited historical information. There are few archives in provincial associations;8 the national association’s archives was started long after its founding. The associations’ archives and histories focused on the organizations, not on services and clinical practice. Until legislation regulating the professions was passed in each province, membership in these three provincial associations was voluntary, so there is no complete record available on personnel and services. After CSHA was established in 1964, the Manpower (sic) reports were on the membership in CSHA and/or the provincial associations. Now all three (Manitoba, Ontario, and Saskatchewan) of the provinces have legislation so there will be a record in the future at least of those practicing. The author is in the process of analyzing the data from ASHA directories on its members working in Canada, which should provide some additional information.



The Manitoba Legislative Assembly passed “An Act respecting the practice of speech and hearing therapy” in 1961. Thus the Manitoba Speech and Hearing Association was the first province and indeed, the first jurisdiction in North America to be regulated by legislation. Ontario was incorporated as "An Act Respecting The Ontario Speech and Hearing Association" in 1965.The Saskatchewan legislation was passed in 1992.Both Manitoba and Saskatchewan have one professional association. In Ontario, the legislation created the College of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists of Ontario (CASLPO), which regulates practice. OSLA continues as a voluntary association. In contrast to these three provincial associations, the more recent legislation, 2002, creating the Alberta College of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists has one association with two branches. Saskatchewan is the only one of the three associations that maintains joint membership with CASLPA. The Manitoba and Saskatchewan Associations are part of the Pan Canadian Alliance of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists.


The National Association in Canada

The Canadian Speech and Hearing Association The National Association in Canada was founded in 1964, six years after the three provincial associations discussed above. The founding meeting in San Francisco at the convention of ASHA was preceded by 12 years of meetings at that convention. Isabel Richard was involved in all the meetings, starting in 1952. At the 1963 meeting, the group decided to poll the members of the then seven provincial associations.9 “The results of the questionnaire supported the formation of the Canadian association, endorsed setting a standard of training of the profession similar to the standard of the American Speech and Hearing Association and suggested the need for follow-up reports of progress toward forming a Canadian Association.”10 When the results were presented in 1964, the group there voted to establish a Canadian Speech and Hearing Association with initial dues of one dollar. One report states there were 14 in attendance. The record is that 12 joined. The two negative voters’ names are not recorded. There were three from Manitoba in the 12; one, Isabel Richard, was elected the first president. There were two from Ontario and none from Saskatchewan at the first meeting. The Canadian Speech and Hearing Association retained that title until 1981 when the Executive recommended a name change to the Language-Speech-Hearing Association of Canada. In a letter to the editor of the association newsletter, HearHere, published in June 1981, Isabel Richard supported that change. However, it was not adopted. In 1985, the CSHA changed its name to the name of the professions and became the Canadian Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists. The Manitoba association retained its original name; however, the Saskatchewan and Ontario Associations followed the national lead to the name of the professions.


Current Status

According to CASLPO in 2005, the numbers registered were: Total in Ontario: 2385 Speech-Language Pathologists and 406 Audiologists. In 2019, there are 3446 Speech-Language Pathologists and 819 Audiologists in Ontario.


In 2008, each of the three provinces can look back with pride and awe at the remarkable professionals who founded the associations. The founders of the Manitoba Speech and Hearing Association, the Ontario Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists, and the Saskatchewan Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists, were committed to the professions, all volunteer, and undaunted by the huge tasks before them:

• Expanding of services

• Setting and enforcing standards

• Recruiting and mentoring new professionals, and

• Supporting and attending continuing education.


We owe them a debt of gratitude. We can repay that debt – each and every one of us – by working to ensure that the professions and the professional associations we leave for our future professionals are stronger than the ones we inherited.


195819651969198319832007MB122430184146-20365ON726197562435-88~900SK510106157-4268Canadan/a149~250912To read Virginia Martin's submission to OSLA on the"Pioneer Speech Therapists in Saskatchewan",clickHEREPast Presidents of OSLA2014/16: Peggy Allen2011/13: Shanda Hunter-Trottier2007/10: Sharon McWhirter2005/06: Justine Lear Hamilton2004/05: Trish Dillabough2003: Andrea Macdonald2002: Arran McAfee2001: Brian Morassutti2000: Susan Bassili1999: Carol Fowler1998: Ann Meltzer1997: Brian Field1996: David Barr1995: Fiona Ryner1994: Judy Ball1993: Glen Sutherland1992: Susan Menary1991: Donna Bandur1990: Bruce Shaw1988/89: Gary Ryan1987: Christie Bentham1986: Keith Christopher1985: Tani Nixon1984: Davidah Wolf1983: Pat Wevrick1982: Herbert A. Leeper Jr.1981: Mary Anne Witzel1980: Ruth Gannon1979: W.A Eisele1978: M. Heintzman1977: Naneve Hawke1976: Ruth Glennie1975: Bernard O'Keefe1974: Donald Hood1972/73: B. Gross1971: J Seligman1971:Marlene Stein1970: Don Mandryk1969: Larry Weber1968: Margaret Bagshaw1967: Karen Trotter1966: Christie Bentham1964/65: Elizabeth Bowie1963: Keith Neely1962: D. McGeachy1960/61: Anthony Bowie1959: Ruth LewisOSLA thanks speech-language pathologist Virginia Martin for providing this historical record.References1. See the chart in Martin, V. (1998) MSHA: Our first three years. Hearsay 15, 1 Spring, pp 12-162. Hall, E. (1965) The Royal Commission on Health Services. Vol 2, Queen’s Printer, Ottawa. pp 62-63.3. Government of Canada. (1968) Speech Therapists and Audiologists. Canadian Occupations, Occupational Analysis Unit, Occupational Research Section. Department of Manpower and Immigration.4. Kuttner, Paul. (1969) Speech Pathology and Audiology in Canada. Institute of Otolaryngology, Montreal, Canada5. Richard, Isabel. (1952) A Handbook for Speech and Hearing Therapists in the Winnipeg Public Schools. A thesis submitted to Kent State University6. Bentham, Christie. (1998) Origins of OSLA. OSLA Connection. 25, 1, July. Pp 1-27. For a more extensive discussion of the issue, see Martin, V. (2007) History of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology in Canada8. In the 1983 Survey of Provincial Associations by Mary Jane Cairns, Manitoba was the only one with an archives committee9. The British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and the Atlantic Provinces Speech and Hearing Associations10. Richard, Isabel. (1965) History. Directory. CSHA11. TofolaFrost, Freda. (1984) Focus on the Saskatchewan Speech and Hearing Association. Human Communication Canada VIII, 1, Jan-Feb. Pp 20-2212. These numbers are in the various histories of each provincial association13. CSHA. (1965) Directory14. Kuttner, Paul. (1969) Speech Pathology and Audiology in Canada. Institute of Otolaryngology, Montreal15. Cairns, M.J. (1983) Survey of National Councillors. Human Communication Canada. Dec. 512-51316. Gannon, Ruth. (1989) The Ontario Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists. Unpublished paper - representing data from 197017. CSHA. (1983) Directory(Originally printed: OSLA Connection – Fall 2007).