Our History

“A true friend knows your weaknesses but shows you your strengths; feels your fears but fortifies your faith; sees your anxieties but frees your spirits; recognizes your disabilities but emphasizes your possibilities.”


- William Arthur Ward

Our Origin

Rev. Walter McCleary, the founder of "The Dufferin Association for Retarded Children" opened the first school for children with developmental disabilities in 1954. Although it first operated in the basement of a library, it laid the groundwork for the expansion of the Association, as well as public awareness.


The sixties and seventies were spent developing the Association as it matured and grew into a full-scale organization supporting children and adults with developmental disabilities.


The 1970's marked the opening of The Joinery, offering woodworking and subcontracting assembly departments, QPAC - quality assembly and packaging, provided work for many people supported on a per piece basis and its first administrative office, further promoting the growth of the organization and new opportunities for people with developmental disabilities.


Another momentous development in the 1970’s was the opening of the first of what would become 13 group homes under the new name of Community Living Dufferin (CLD). A holding company, known as ITHRON, marked the start of the group home expansion as it enabled the organization to purchase property for its residential service.


In the 1980's the Supported Independent Living (SIL) program was created to support people with developmental disabilities who lived in the community and needed life and social skill assistance. A leisure and learning program, Options, filled out the complement of Adult Services, as we know them today.

Our Timeline


CLD received funding to build a home that would specialize in supporting people with Prader-Willi Syndrome.



CLD began a drama program, Creative Partners on Stage (CPOS), with Theatre Orangeville (TOV) which would eventually evolve into a highly unique partnership.



CLD and TOV were fortunate to receive a $2.7 million grant from the Communities in Action federal initiative which enabled us to build a new home for both our agencies in East Garafraxa.


Creative partners theatre group on stage raising hands


CLD received its three year accreditation recognition from FOCUS Accreditation.



CLD was successful in obtaining FOCUS re-accreditation for another four years.



Our Pre-School Resource Program, an integral part of CLD’s history, was moved to Dufferin Children and Family Services. (DCAFS).



CLD launched a social enterprise initiative; B Social Enterprises. Partnering with Dufferin Child and Family Services and Family Transition Place the agencies, led by CLD entered into agreements with Georgian College, Dufferin County and the Town of Orangeville. Employing people supported by each of the three agencies B Social operates four cafes/snack bars within the college, the courthouse and the two sports arenas in Orangeville. Providing people centred employment to individuals looking to gain workplace experience or returning to the workforce, B Social provides hours geared to the needs of the employees.



CLD purchased two new homes bringing our total to 15. We opened our first home in the beautiful community of Grand Valley in November 2022. Our 12th Orangeville home will open following renovations and retrofitting in the spring of 2023.


Community Living Dufferin may have begun by focusing on providing education opportunities to children, but now offers a wide range of opportunities for adults. Among the services detailed in our Adult Services section of CLD’s website, the organization also provides opportunities for volunteers and membership. As the organization created these new services, it fashioned a new and brighter vision for itself.

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Gifts from donors like you provide opportunities for people we support to actively participate in their community.

Our Partners

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We would like to respectfully acknowledge that Dufferin County resides within the traditional territory and ancestral lands of the Tionontati (Petun), Attawandaron (Neutral),
Haudenosaunee (Six Nations), and Anishinaabe peoples.