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We are celebrating 130 years, Local & Strong

History of Peterborough Public Health

There are records of the Board of Health meetings taking place in the City of Peterborough dating back to 1889.

A By-law to provide for the appointment of a Board of Health for the Town of Peterborough was passed by Peterborough Town Council on Monday, February 18, 1889.

The City of Peterborough Department of Health was established on July 1, 1934. The first full-time Medical Officer of Health was Dr. G. Murray Fraser whose duties commenced on August 1, 1934. The original staff consisted of three persons – The Medical Officer of Health (MOH), a Sanitary Inspector, and a Secretary. On September 10, 1934 the tiny department took over offices in the Simcoe Street City Hall.

The first Public Health Nurse for the City of Peterborough, Department of Health, was appointed in 1937.

In June, 1950 the Department of Health moved from 137 Simcoe Street into new quarters in a house located on the south west corner of Water and McDonnel Streets. The “Turner House” was bought by City Council for a Health Office due to the crowded conditions of the Department of Health on Simcoe Street. This house was later demolished when the present day City Hall was built. In October, 1951 the Department of Health moved into the present day City Hall.

The formation of a Health Unit comprised of the City and County of Peterborough had been discussed many times before the subject was raised at the November, 1964 meeting of County Council. When the resolution to form a Public Health between the County and City was presented to County Council it was favored by a vote of 16 to 8.

Following this meeting, the Peterborough Board of Health, at its meeting of December 14, 1964 recommended that the City Council enter into an agreement with the County Council to form a Health Unit. The matter was discussed by City Council’s finance committee on the same day and the committee recommended to City Council the formation of a Health Unit with the County. City Council accepted the committee’s recommendation at its meeting of December 21, 1964.

On January 22, 1965, an agreement was signed between the County of Peterborough and the City of Peterborough to establish the Peterborough County-City Health Unit (PCCHU).  The PCCHU would be under the management of the Board of Health, and would be composed of seven members as follows: 1 member appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council; 3 members from the City of Peterborough; and, 3 members from the County of Peterborough.

On June 1, 1965, PCCHU commenced operations from a location on Lansdowne Street East, in the upper portion of the building owned and occupied by Peterborough Card and Paper Works Ltd. This arrangement was considered a temporary one and suitable for the fifteen full-time and few part-time employees.  Dr. J.R. Anderson was the MOH until February 28, 1966.

In 1968, the Board requested, and received, a provincial Order in Council officially recognizing the wishes of both Curve Lake and Hiawatha First Nations communities to receive public health services from the Board, and to participate in governance.  Chiefs Dalton Jacobs and Ralph Loucks selected Warden E.J. Leeson from Havelock (a County representative at the time) as their sole representative on the Board of Health.

Dr. J. K. Edwards came on September 5, 1972 to become the MOH, after leaving the Canadian Armed Services in Petawawa. During his tenure, the city of Peterborough began fluoridation of water, in the summer of 1973. In February 1974, the board of health approved a 1.4 acre site on Weller Street as its new headquarters, at a cost of $7,000 per acre. Greer Galloway was secured as the architect and the province agreed to pay 2/3 of the cost. Official approval took until July 1975 to receive. Sod turning took place on December 2, 1975.

The generous financial aid of the Province of Ontario, through the Ministry of Health, encouraged local municipal action; two thirds of the total cost of this new building, including basic furniture and equipment, was provided by Provincial funds, the remaining third being provided on a per capita basis by the City and the County.

On December 2, 1975, brief informal ceremonies consisting of the signing of documents and sod turning to initiate construction, were carried out. The building was completed and the PCCHU moved in on November 22, 1976.

In 1976, it was discovered that the building was on a landfill site and the decision was made to excavate the site and put in a full basement. The original costs for the building were projected to be $782,500. Expanding the basement from 2,000 square feet to 5,000 square feet cost an additional $43,000. Eastwood Construction was the builder. It was not intended to be used as office space (but by 1981, it was!).

November 19, 1976 was moving day. On Monday, November 22, 1976, 52 employees moved into 835 Weller Street. That same day, the nursing staff immunized 3050 residents against the Swine Flu at the Peterborough Memorial Centre. The official opening took place on June 16, 1977 with the Adam Scott Junior Band in attendance.

On June 16, 1977, the building was officially opened by Dr. D.G. Martin, Chief Medical Officer of Health for Ontario.

On December 1, 1979, Dr. J. K. Edwards, Medical Officer of Health and his wife Peggy, were tragically killed in a car accident. On June 20, 1980, the building was officially named the Dr. J. K. Edwards Building. Over the years, the address changed to “10 Hospital Drive”.

In 1983, the updated Health Protection and Promotion Act (Section 50) created a formal process for First Nations to engage with boards of health, giving them the same status as other “obligated municipalities” and granting them the right to appoint a First Nations member as their representative to the Board.

Over the years, the staffing complement expanded and the Board of Health leased space elsewhere.  From May 1, 1991 to April 30, 2002, space was leased at Time Square (Hunter Street East), used primarily for clinical services such as Sexual Health and Genetics.

During 1998, membership on the Board of Health was expanded from seven to eight members including a representative of Curve Lake First Nation.

On January 8, 2001 the Board of Health partnered with the Township of Havelock-Belmont-Methuen to provide Nurse Practitioner services to the community. The Board of Health administered this initiative, the first of its kind in Ontario until December 31, 2002.

During June 2002 the Paediatrics clinic opened to assist families without Doctors in the community until December 2005.

On July 8, 2003 the Board of Health partnered with Township of Otonabee-South Monaghan to establish Nurse Practitioner Services in the Keene Health Centre until December 2005 when services were transferred to the Victoria Order of Nurses.

On June 9, 2005 the Board of Health had a grand opening for the Nurse Practitioner Clinic on Aylmer Street to alleviate of the local physician shortage until closing it December 2005 due to lack of funding.

During 2006, membership on the Board of Health was expanded from eight to nine members including another member from the Province of Ontario.

During 2007, membership on the Board of Health was again expanded from nine to ten members including another member from the Province of Ontario, bringing the total number of appointed Provincial representatives to three.

On March 1, 2007, the Board leased space at the former Teacher’s College building on O’Carroll Avenue.  This space was primarily used for staff accommodation and not for the general public.

On May 3, 2007 the Board of Health made available to Hiawatha First Nation the programs and services offered by the agency.  On May 19, 2009, Hiawatha First Nation appointed a representative to the Board of Health, expanding membership to eleven members.

In June 2008, the current MOH, Dr. Salvaterra (formerly Pellizzari), started her tenure with the agency.

In January, 2010, the Peterborough County-City Health Unit became a registered charitable organization.

In 2011, the Board of Health officially opened the Community and Mobile Dental Health Centres, comprised of a fixed clinic in downtown Peterborough, and a fully-equipped two-operatory mobile dental treatment unit.

In 2013, membership on the Board of Health was again expanded from eleven to twelve members including another member from the Province of Ontario, bringing the total number of appointed Provincial representatives to four (4).

Around this time, the Board of Health explored options for alternate locations to house staff and programs given the organization had outgrown its offices at 10 Hospital Drive and O’Carroll Avenue.

On September 25, 2015, the Board of Health officially announced plans to bring public health services and programs downtown when it moved into the first three floors of Jackson Square at 185 King Street on November 23, 2015. The Hospital Drive facility was sold to the neighbouring Peterborough Clinic. The Community Dental Health Centre (CDHC) remained located nearby at Peterborough Square on George Street.

A closing ceremony for 10 Hospital Drive was held on November 11, 2015, and the offices were officially closed on November 20, 2015. On December 9, 2015, the new Board Room at Jackson Square was dedicated to Dr. J. K. Edwards and the commemorative plaque from Hospital Drive was hung there as an ever-present reminder of his lasting legacy.

After an extensive rebranding and consultation process, on February 10, 2016, the Board officially supported a new operating name, ‘Peterborough Public Health’, and logo.  The transition would officially take effect on June 1, 2016.

The official open house and opening ceremonies for Peterborough Public Health at Jackson Square were held on June 10, 2016.

In 2017, membership on the Board of Health for Peterborough Public Health was again expanded from twelve to thirteen members including another member from the Province of Ontario, bringing the total number of appointed Provincial representatives to five (5).

Upon moving to Jackson Square, PPH put plans into motion to move the CDHC to 185 King Street to achieve the Board’s strategic direction of having all staff in one building.  This was assisted with the sale of the Mobile Dental Health Centre to another local public health agency.  In the fall of 2018, the CDHC closed its doors and the PPH Community Dental Health Clinic was officially opened on Tuesday, October 16, 2018 on the main floor of Jackson Square.

In February 2021, Dr. Rosana Salvaterra announced her decision to retire from her position later that year.

In August 2021, the Board of Health announced that Dr. Thomas Piggott had been selected as PPH’s new Medical Officer of Health (MOH) and CEO starting December 1, 2021.