Nick Toner Part 4: Life Gets Better


Written by Nick Toner

My Story (Part 4) – Final

Nick lives in Nelson, BC with 3 roommates.

Nick cares about his community and wants to share his story about growing up in an institution.

He wants to educate folks so the government does not go backwards and repeat the same mistakes.

He wants to keep those doors closed.



To read Part 1 click here:

To read Part 2 click here:

To read Part 3 click here:


Part 4: Life Gets Better

There were tunnels in the Huronia Regional Centre institution and they were dark. Sort of like tramways. They led to the cottages where we slept.

Sometimes there was an isolation period that took place at the end of the tunnel. I saw this in the Danny and Nicky (1969) documentary film.

Life gets better though. When I was 17, they decided that I could live in a group home in Toronto. That was not too bad. You had to do everything with everyone else, go shopping, go to the show, and go to bed. If you went out, you had to be home by 10 o’clock pm. I wish they would have taken that 10’o clock curfew away.

Two people I lived with were blind and I escorted one to a Rolling Stones Concert in Oshawa Ontario in 1979. We had floor seats. Keith Richards from the band got into trouble and the judge made him perform benefit concerts for the blind. The concert was great. There was a backup band with Ringo Starr and Peter Tosh called the New Baron.

Then I went to live on my own in an apartment. That was good because I could do what I wanted to do. I did not need to be in by 10 o’clock pm. Freedom from the institution gave me my rights and choices in my life. I had equal rights to be with others.

But one night I was sitting in a Swiss Chalet restaurant in Toronto and a man, who looked like Moses (he had long hair and a beard), asked me for some money. I told him I didn’t have any.

He hit me in the face and I had to get 23 stitches. This is when I decided to leave Toronto.

I came out to Nelson, BC to show my sister-in-law my stitches. She was a doctor. I moved to Nelson because I found out how beautiful it was.

I moved to Nelson in 1992. The date was July 15, 1992 — the same date I entered the institution but about 30 years later. My life is way different now and has changed for the better.

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