Our history

Our hospice started as an ambitious desire of a small group of committed community members to provide compassionate end-of-life care to members of the community. We’ve grown into an award-winning, not-for-profit community and residential palliative care and bereavement support organization.

  • The hospice was founded and incorporated by Marjorie Pitchford and Meade Wright along with a group of dedicated parishioners from the St. George’s Church on the Hill. They began supporting community members under the guidance of Dr. Dorothy Ley who lent her name and expertise to develop the hospice model of care.

  • Dr. Ley helped to establish the Canadian Palliative Care Foundation to provide a benchmark for others and to give the field the acknowledgement and credibility it deserved.

  • The Dorothy Ley Hospice day hospice program officially opened.

  • The Dorothy Ley Community Palliative Physician Team was established.

  • Thanks to the vision and support of our community, our residence opened with 10 beds, providing 24-hour care in a home-like environment.

  • The Dream Campaign launched. Thanks to the generous support of donors, we paid off our mortgage and invested in new programs. This investment helped us to innovate during the pandemic.

  • We celebrated our 30th anniversary and 10 years of residential care.

  • The Hospice Palliative Helpline launched in response to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. The 24/7 service is a partnership between Heart House Hospice, The Dorothy Ley Hospice, Acclaim Health, Mississauga Halton Home and Community Care Support Services and the Mississauga Halton Palliative Care Network.

  • With minor renovations, we opened two temporary rooms to address capacity pressures. We released our five year strategic plan A Community of Care for Today and Tomorrow. It outlines how we will inspire, grow, nurture, and strengthen to increase access to hospice palliative care for everyone in our community.

  • We celebrated our 35th anniversary with the opening of our revitalized space, including two new full care suites, a new nursing station and secure medication preparation room, and various facility upgrades. We also launched our refreshed look—a modernized version of our logo that honours our past while reflecting our commitment to the future of hospice palliative care.


Who was Dr. Dorothy Ley

Dr. Dorothy Ley

“We will not leave you. We will watch with you. We will be there.”

– Dr. Dorothy Ley

Dr. Ley was a woman with a driving spirit who made the seemingly impossible possible. A woman with a vision to help and heal others at a time when the medical profession was dominated predominantly by men. Rich in courage and dedication, she put herself through medical school by working in the Niagara canning factories. Through her tenacity and dedication, she went on to become an internationally respected oncologist, treating terminally ill cancer patients with compassion and care.

Dr. Ley’s concern for her patients led her on a mission to develop a patient-centred end-of-life model of care that was more personal and loving. One that could be delivered in an atmosphere where patients could live in comfort, conducting the remainder of their lives with dignity and meaning, while surrounded by the people close to them.

Through her spirit and commitment, Dr. Ley pioneered the field of hospice care in Ontario. Her vision and dedication continue to inspire others in medicine and healthcare delivery. In 1991, she helped to establish the Canadian Palliative Care Foundation, to provide a benchmark for others and to give the field the acknowledgement and credibility it deserved.

Dr. Ley believed spiritual care to be a critical component of hospice care and that comfort does not come from medicine alone, but from a touch, a glance, a smile, a goal accomplished. The emblem the Hospice has embraced depicts the leaves of the alder tree – an ancient symbol for the spirit of a wise woman, for regeneration and hope. A reminder of the cycle of life, death, and rebirth – to bring power and hope in times of grief. Lovingly dubbed the “heart of hospice”, Dr. Dorothy Ley left us in 1994, after her own battle with cancer. Today, her legacy and spirit live on in the work of the thousands of others who share her vision.  Proof that there is meaning in life, and that the spirit does overcome all in the end.

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