Hospital for Sick Children (Toronto)

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The Hospital for Sick Children
The Hospital for Sick Children Logo.svg
Toronto Sick Children Hospital Aerial View.JPG
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; -79.3885Coordinates: 43°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. It is 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

During 1875, an eleven-room house was rented for CA$320 (equivalent to $8,134 in 2020) a year by a Toronto women's bible study group led by Elizabeth McMaster.[3] Opened on March 1,[4] they set up six iron cots and "declared open a hospital 'for the admission and treatment of all sick children.'" Their first patient, a scalding victim named Maggie, came in on April 3. Forty-four patients were admitted to the hospital in its first year of operation and sixty-seven others were treated in outpatient clinics.[5]

In 1876 the hospital moved to larger facilities. In 1891 the hospital moved from rented premises to a building constructed for it at College and Elizabeth streets where it would remain for sixty years. This old 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 the grounds where Canadian-born movie star Mary Pickford's childhood home once stood.[5]

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

From 1980-81, the hospital was the site of a series of baby deaths.[8]


Atrium designed by Eberhard Zeidler

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, and 30 years before milk pasteurization became mandatory.[9] Researchers at the hospital invented the infant cereal, Pablum. The research that led to the discovery of insulin took place nearby at the University of Toronto and was soon applied at the hospital. Doctor Frederick Banting, one of the researchers, had served his internship at SickKids Hospital and went on to become an attending physician there. In 1963 William Thornton Mustard developed the Mustard surgical procedure used to help correct heart problems in blue baby syndrome.[9] In 1989, a team of researchers at the hospital discovered the gene responsible for cystic fibrosis.[10]


The hospital housed the Motherisk Drug Testing Laboratory.[11] At the request of various child protection agencies 16,000 hair samples were tested from 2005 to 2015. Former Ontario Appeal Court judge Susan Lang reviewed Motherisk Drug Testing Laboratory and determined that they were 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".[12] The 2008 Goudge Report found Dr. Charles Smith, whose forensic testimony led to wrongful convictions in the deaths of children, was also not qualified to do forensic testing.[13]


The hospital is in the initial stages of expansion. In 2017 it established the "SickKids VS Limits" fundraising campaign that will continue until 2022 to raise $1.5 billion for the expansion project.[14][15] The funds will be used to build a patient care centre on University Avenue, a support centre on Elizabeth Street, to renovate the atrium, and to fund pediatric health research.[15]

To provide the required area for the buildings, demolition of existing structures was required. This included removal of a skyway spanning Elizabeth Street, demolition of the Elizabeth McMaster Building at the northeast corner of Elizabeth Street and Elm Street, and demolition of the laboratory and administrative building.[16]: 26–31 

Construction of the 22-storey Patient Support Centre administrative building will occur on the site of the Elizabeth McMaster Building, and will be completed in 2022. The Peter Gilgan Family Patient Care Tower is expected to open in 2029, and the atrium renovation to be completed by 2031.[16]

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.
  • 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. ^ a b Hospital - About SickKids - History and milestones - Milestones - 1951–1975, accessed 12 June 2015.
  10. ^ Hospital - About SickKids - History and milestones - Milestones - 1976–2000, accessed 20 June 2015
  11. ^ 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.
  12. ^ Charles, Ron (February 8, 2016). "Motherisk scandal highlights risk of deferring to experts without questioning credentials". CBC News. Retrieved August 26, 2019.
  13. ^ Goudge, Stephen T. (September 30, 2008). Inquiry into Pediatric Forensic Pathology in Ontario (PDF). Attourney General of Ontario. ISBN 978-1-4249-7794-9. Retrieved August 26, 2019.
  14. ^ Lombardo, Christopher (2019-10-15). "SickKids zeroes in on why it needs more space". Strategy. Retrieved 2020-10-27.
  15. ^ a b Westoll, Nick (2019-09-18). "SickKids highlights crowded ICU conditions amid massive redevelopment project". Global News. Retrieved 2020-10-27.
  16. ^ 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.
  17. ^ "Furious Pete: From anorexic to world-class competitive eater". The Toronto Star. 9 July 2012.
  18. ^ "Is Growing up in Silence Better Than Growing up Different? | Intersex Society of North America".
  19. ^ Fitterman, Lisa (2 October 2016). "Peter Kavanagh: Author and radio producer had a 'furious intellect'". The Globe and Mail.
  20. ^[bare URL]
  21. ^ Bliss, Michael (15 February 2013). The Discovery of Insulin. ISBN 9780226075631.

External links[edit]