The Ellen Osler Memorial Home is located at the southeast corner of Hatt and Ogilvie Streets. It is named in memory of Ellen Picton Osler, wife of Reverend Featherstone Lake Osler. They were the parents of ten children, including Sir William Osler, who went on to become a renowned physician and medical pioneer.
Rev. Osler was the rector of St. James’ Anglican Church, located further to the west on Hatt Street, from 1857 to 1879.
After their children left to pursue their prominent careers, the Rev. and Mrs. Featherstone moved from Dundas to Toronto. Ellen Osler died in 1907, having attained the age of one hundred. In her memory, her family, led by her son Sir Edmund Osler, established the home in 1909.
James Keagey, the architect, was challenged with the problem of incorporating a two story building which stood on the property. Bessie Ridler had operated a school on the site for fifty-four years.
Heritage specialist Nina Chapple has described the Home as being created in the timbered tudor tradition, reminiscent of structures in Ellen Osler’s native England. She observed that its dark panelling and woodwork, leaded windows, and fire place created a more home-like atmosphere rather than an institutional feeling.
The Home was at the outset intended to house and assist elderly Protestants living on limited incomes, but eventually it served only women. The Osler family continued to contribute toward the cost of maintaining the building. The home was administered by both a board of men and women appointed from the community.
The introduction of a pension system changed the needs of women, and more seniors were able to remain in their homes longer. Also, the home could not provide the nursing care for those requiring it. As a result, in 1973, the directors decided to close the home and transfer the property to the Salvation Army.
In recent times, with funding by the Federal Correctional Services Ministry, the Salvation Army has been operating the home as half-way facility for women.