Part 1: My beginnings

Written by  Nick Toner

My Story

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.

Nick’s story will be broken up into chapters and shared once every two months on .


Part 1: My beginnings

I was born in Scarborough Ontario, on June 23 1957. I have a twin brother, two sisters, and one older brother who is now passed away.

I grew up with my brothers and sisters and mom and dad. My mother worked in tobacco fields and my father was a hardworking man for a cement company.

My mother later became sick with multiple sclerosis. It was difficult for me as a child because my father worked nights and my mother was using a wheelchair.

I used to get lost and go to a park nearby or visit a store where they treated me well. When I came home my father would strap me with a belt.

I went to public school and in grade two they put me back to grade one.

We didn’t have dictionaries and I would often not understand what words would mean and would have to repeat myself—and other students would make fun of me.

I didn’t want to go there anymore. The principal met with my family and decided to send me to Orillia, to the Heronia Regional Centre.

I didn’t know what this meant, and they did not explain it to me. I was so young, only seven at the time.

No one asked me what I wanted or how I felt about such a huge decision.

I did not know what was going to happen to me, but I now know that I hope no one goes through what I had to do next.

To be continued…

Please read the next chapter of my story in the New Year here on

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