Hospital for Sick Children (Toronto)

Coordinates: 43°39′26″N 79°23′19″W / 43.6571°N 79.3885°W / 43.6571; -79.3885
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The Hospital for Sick Children
University Avenue facade
Hospital for Sick Children (Toronto) is located in Toronto
Hospital for Sick Children (Toronto)
Location in Toronto
Location555 University Avenue
Toronto, Ontario
M5G 1X8
Coordinates43°39′26″N 79°23′19″W / 43.6571°N 79.3885°W / 43.6571; -79.3885
Care systemMedicare
FundingPublic hospital
Affiliated universityUniversity of Toronto Faculty of Medicine
Emergency departmentPediatric Level 1 Trauma Centre (Tertiary)
SpecialityChildren's hospital
HelipadTC LID: CNW8

The Hospital for Sick Children (HSC), corporately branded as SickKids, is a major pediatric teaching hospital located on University Avenue in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Affiliated with the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Toronto, the hospital was ranked the top pediatric hospital in the world by Newsweek in 2021.[1]

The hospital's Peter Gilgan Centre for Research and Learning is believed to be the largest pediatric research tower in the world, at 69,677.28 square metres (750,000.0 sq ft).[2]


Victoria Hospital for Sick Children
Nurse and orderly transport child to operating room, c. 1915
Peter Gilgan Centre for Research and Learning
Atrium designed by Eberhard Zeidler

During 1875, an eleven-room house was rented for CA$320 (equivalent to $8,407 in 2021) a year by a Toronto women's bible study group, led by Elizabeth McMaster.[3] Opened on March 1,[4] it set up six iron cots and "declared open a hospital 'for the admission and treatment of all sick children.'" The first patient, a scalding victim named Maggie, came in on April 3. In its first year of operation, 44 patients were admitted to the hospital, and 67 others were treated in outpatient clinics.[5]

In 1876, the hospital moved to larger facilities. In 1891, it moved from rented premises to a purposely-constructed building at College and Elizabeth Streets. It would remain there for 60 years. The building, known as the Victoria Hospital for Sick Children, is now the Toronto area headquarters of Canadian Blood Services. In 1951, the hospital moved to its present University Avenue location. On its grounds once stood the childhood home of the Canadian-born movie star Mary Pickford.[5]

In 1972,[6] the hospital became equipped with a rooftop helipad (CNW8).[7]

From 1980 to 1981, the hospital was the site of a series of baby deaths.[8]

In December 2022, the hospital was attacked by the LockBit ransomware gang, who apologized 13 days later and provided a decryptor to the hospital for free.[9]

Contributions to medicine[edit]

The hospital was an early leader in the fields of food safety and nutrition. In 1908, a pasteurization facility for milk was established at the hospital, the first in Toronto, 30 years before milk pasteurization became mandatory.[10] Researchers at the hospital invented an infant cereal, Pablum. The research that led to the discovery of insulin took place at the nearby University of Toronto and was soon applied in the hospital by Gladys Boyd. Dr. Frederick Banting, one of the researchers, had served his internship at the hospital and went on to become an attending physician there. In 1963, William Thornton Mustard developed the Mustard surgical procedure to help correct heart problems in blue baby syndrome.[10] In 1989, a team of researchers at the hospital discovered the gene responsible for cystic fibrosis.[11]

SickKids is a member of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO), the world's largest advocacy organization representing the biotechnology industry.[12]

COVID-19 pandemic[edit]

During the COVID-19 pandemic, SickKids engaged in several campaigns to promote COVID-19 vaccines.

SickKids received $99,680.00 from the Government of Canada for two projects through a grant program titled "Encouraging vaccine confidence in Canada."[13] The grant was jointly administered by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).[14]

One of the funded proposals was titled “Building COVID-19 Vaccine Confidence: Educating the Educators.” The result was a promotional video titled “COVID-19 Vaccination Information for Education & Child Care Sector Staff” narrated by Dr. Danielle Martin.[15] It was produced by 19 to Zero, and distributed by the Ontario Ministry of Education to school boards, private schools and child care centres to use in COVID-19 vaccination educational programs.[16]

A second proposal was titled “Stop COVID in Kids - School based vaccine education outreach to build trust and empower families”, which received additional funding in the form of a $440,000 grant from the Public Health Agency of Canada's Immunization Partnership Fund.[13][17]

Unqualified forensic testing[edit]

The hospital housed the Motherisk Drug Testing Laboratory.[18] At the request of various child protection agencies, 16,000 hair samples were tested from 2005 to 2015. The former Ontario Appeal Court judge Susan Lang reviewed Motherisk Drug Testing Laboratory and determined that it was not qualified to do forensic testing. Lang also stated, "That SickKids failed to exercise meaningful oversight over MDTL's work must be considered in the context of the hospital's experience with Dr. Charles Smith."[19] The 2008 Goudge Report found also that Dr. Charles Smith, whose forensic testimony led to wrongful convictions in the deaths of children, was not qualified to do forensic testing.[20]


The hospital is in its initial stages of expansion. In 2017, it established the "SickKids VS Limits" fundraising campaign, which will continue until 2022 to raise $1.5 billion for the expansion project.[21][22] The funds will be used to build a patient care centre on University Avenue and a support centre on Elizabeth Street, to renovate the atrium, and to fund pediatric health research.[22]

To provide the required area for the buildings, demolition of existing structures was required. That included the removal of a skyway spanning Elizabeth Street, the demolition of the Elizabeth McMaster Building at the northeast corner of Elizabeth Street and Elm Street, and the demolition of the laboratory and administrative building.[23]: 26–31 

Construction of the 22-storey Patient Support Centre administrative building will occur on the site of the Elizabeth McMaster Building and finish in 2022. The Peter Gilgan Family Patient Care Tower is expected to open in 2029, and the atrium's renovation is expected to be completed by 2031.[23]

Notable patients[edit]

Notable staff[edit]


  • Braithwaite, Max (1974). Sick Kids: the story of the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart. ISBN 0-7710-1636-0.
  • Newton, Michael (2006). The Encyclopedia of Serial Killers (2nd ed.). New York: Checkmark Books. ISBN 978-0-73947-249-1.
  • Wright, David (2016). SickKids: The History of the Hospital for Sick Children. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. ISBN 978-1442647237.


  1. ^ "SickKids named No.1 paediatric hospital in the world by Newsweek". Sick Kids. Retrieved 20 October 2021.
  2. ^ Ionova, Mariana (August 26, 2013). "Sick Kids honours donor Peter Gilgan for $40 million donation". Toronto Star.
  3. ^ Dueck, Lorna (2016-03-16). "Doctor-assisted dying: Why religious conscience must be part of the debate". The Globe and Mail.
  4. ^ Jea, Andrew; Al-Otibi, Merdas; Rutka, James; Drake, James; Dirks, Peter; Kulkarni, Abhaya; Taylor, Michael; Humphreys, Robin (September 2007). "The History of Neurosurgery at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto" (PDF). Neurosurgery. 61 (3): 612–625. doi:10.1227/01.NEU.0000290910.32600.7E. hdl:1807/24716. PMID 17881976. S2CID 28061565.
  5. ^ a b "SickKids History". Hospital for Sick Children. 2005-12-15. Archived from the original on 2006-09-08. Retrieved 2006-09-14.
  6. ^ "Opened first hospital rooftop heliport for emergency transfer of patients (1972)". Hospital for Sick Children. Retrieved 2013-06-08.
  7. ^ Canada Flight Supplement. Effective 0901Z 16 July 2020 to 0901Z 10 September 2020.
  8. ^ Newton (2006), pp. 120–121.
  9. ^ "Breaking news: Ransomware gang gives decryptor to Toronto's SickKids Hospital | IT Business". 2023-01-01. Retrieved 2023-01-02.
  10. ^ a b Hospital - About SickKids - History and milestones - Milestones - 1951–1975, accessed 12 June 2015.
  11. ^ Hospital - About SickKids - History and milestones - Milestones - 1976–2000, accessed 20 June 2015
  12. ^ "BIO Member Directory". Biotechnology Innovation Organization. Archived from the original on 2022-09-30. Retrieved 2022-11-05.
  13. ^ a b "Encouraging vaccine confidence in Canada - Competition Results". Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). 2021-07-26. Archived from the original on 2022-01-15. Retrieved 2022-11-05.
  14. ^ "NSERC - Encouraging vaccine confidence in Canada". Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. 2021-03-03. Archived from the original on 2022-11-05. Retrieved 2022-11-05.
  15. ^ COVID-19 Vaccination Information for Education & Child Care Sector Staff, retrieved 2022-11-05
  16. ^ "Resources for Healthcare Workers". 19 to Zero. Archived from the original on 2022-01-15. Retrieved 2022-11-05.
  17. ^ Public Health Agency of Canada (2022-10-12). "Immunization Partnership Fund". Government of Canada. Archived from the original on 2022-11-04. Retrieved 2022-11-04.
  18. ^ Lang, Hon. Susan E. (December 15, 2015). "Report of the Motherisk Hair Analysis Independent Review" (PDF). Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General. Toronto, Ontario. Retrieved August 26, 2019.
  19. ^ Charles, Ron (February 8, 2016). "Motherisk scandal highlights risk of deferring to experts without questioning credentials". CBC News. Retrieved August 26, 2019.
  20. ^ Goudge, Stephen T. (September 30, 2008). Inquiry into Pediatric Forensic Pathology in Ontario (PDF). ISBN 978-1-4249-7794-9. Retrieved August 26, 2019. {{cite book}}: |website= ignored (help)
  21. ^ Lombardo, Christopher (2019-10-15). "SickKids zeroes in on why it needs more space". Strategy. Retrieved 2020-10-27.
  22. ^ a b Westoll, Nick (2019-09-18). "SickKids highlights crowded ICU conditions amid massive redevelopment project". Global News. Retrieved 2020-10-27.
  23. ^ a b Kennedy, David (2020-02-24). "Demolition of eight-storey Toronto hospital building sets stage for multibillion-dollar SickKids expansion". On-Site. Retrieved 2020-10-27.
  24. ^ "Furious Pete: From anorexic to world-class competitive eater". The Toronto Star. 9 July 2012.
  25. ^ "Is Growing up in Silence Better Than Growing up Different? | Intersex Society of North America".
  26. ^ Fitterman, Lisa (2 October 2016). "Peter Kavanagh: Author and radio producer had a 'furious intellect'". The Globe and Mail.
  27. ^[bare URL]
  28. ^ Bliss, Michael (15 February 2013). The Discovery of Insulin. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 9780226075631.
  29. ^ Colbourn, Glen; Kalchman, Lois (August 27, 2005). "Heads Above the Rest: Hockeys' Dr. Safety dies at 90". Toronto Star. Toronto, Ontario. p. A1.; Colbourn, Glen; Kalchman, Lois (August 27, 2005). "Hockey pioneer saved many players: Safety (From A1)". Toronto Star. Toronto, Ontario. p. A19.

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