Glen Visits His Past

Glen Driver has lived in Glencoe for a very long time – 43 years, to be exact. Originally from Kingsville, he spent some time near Dealtown in a place they called Cedar Springs before settling in Glencoe. The place he stayed was a provincial institution more formally known as Southwestern Regional Centre during its busiest years, and Glen lived there from the age of 12 to the age of 20. When he finally left, he settled in Glencoe.

Glen has many friends and has been a big part of the community since he moved here – living, working, and volunteering in our little town – and it seems like he knows everyone! It is with his blessing and direction that we share this story.

Southwestern Regional Centre is no longer in service. It has been decommissioned, closed, and demolished. The rubble of the buildings still remains, and is a reminder of a past time. On the east side of the property, there is a memorial plaque, that says:

From 1961 to 2008, one of the largest institutions in Canada, was located near Blenheim, Ontario. During that time, many hundreds of children and adults with developmental diabilities and other conditions resided at the Southwestern Regional Centre. In 2014, the Government of Ontario issued an apology to those former residents who were harmed for the conditions over time. This memorial is dedicated to all who lived there.

This summer, Glen took a trip back to the place where the institution once stood, a chance to reconnect with his past, and revisit some old memories – some good, some not. He will be the first to tell you that he enjoyed the work, and enjoyed the other people who lived there, so it’s not an easy or simple memory to think of; there are stories from both sides.

Glen experienced a certain satisfaction seeing the rubble still there where the buildings once were, the long, rolling grounds now overgrown and wild. He happily took pictures, visited the memorial plaque, and found some peace in taking a lovely summer drive out into the country, and put some bad memories to rest. A stop on the way home for fresh summer fruits was the perfect way to end this day trip.

By the way, if you’re ever through Blenheim, Glen recommends a stop at the Home Run Restaurant – he enjoyed their signature Home Run Burger and plans to visit again!