Mission, Purpose and History
To support independence, quality of life and community participation for those with and affected by epilepsy.
The Epilepsy Association of Calgary is a charitable social service agency established to address community, individual and family needs related to epilepsy.
The EAC was incorporated under the Provincial Societies Act under the name, “The Calgary Epilepsy League” on December 5th, 1955. Of course, our history began some months before this, when a group of individuals personally affected by epilepsy began meeting to share their concerns and receive encouragement from one another. Six people signed the documents which incorporated the association as a Society. They were electrician R.A. Edge, student Dan. G. Middlestad, part-time office clerk and housewife Mrs. Lilliane Voching, and housewives Mrs. Muriel Wright, Mrs. J.R. Talbot and Mrs. Violet Taylor. A statement of revenue and expenses for the first year of operation reflects a total income of $93.29 raised almost entirely by monthly member dues, with a small portion raised by literature sales.
W.D. Taylor became the first President of the Calgary Epilepsy League, a position he held until 1965, at which point he became the first Executive Director. It is unclear how Mr. Taylor’s life was affected by epilepsy. His wife is listed as a founding member, and in notes from a presentation he gave in 1975, he referred to himself as a “Charter Member”. What we do know is that he provided a dedicated, passionate voice to the cause of epilepsy in a voluntary role for 10 years during his term as President and relentlessly pursued a vision of centre that would provide housing, social support, employment opportunities, recreation, and education for those affected by epilepsy and the greater community. At points during his tenure, Mr. Taylor reportedly even welcomed persons with epilepsy lacking adequate family and financial means into his own home.
The media was helpful in informing the community about the Calgary Epilepsy League, and documents show requests for epilepsy information and assistance in forming other epilepsy organizations came from across Canada and the United States. To reflect a broader geographical mandate than initially realized, the Calgary Epilepsy League changed its name to the “Western Canada Epilepsy League” in 1957. In 1958, a branch office of the League was established in Edmonton and plans were underway to establish branches in Medicine Hat and Lethbridge, AB.
Grand Trunk Cottage School Becomes League’s Home
Mr. Taylor’s dream was partially realized with the lease of the Grand Trunk Cottage School in 1959, located on 5th Avenue N.W., just off 24th Street (now Crowchild Trail). Between 1910 and 1912, 17 “Cottage Schools” were erected in the city as temporary schools to house students while more permanent buildings were constructed. While many of these buildings were later destroyed, some were converted for other uses, including a home for epilepsy meetings, a residence, and a sheltered workshop. The building leased by the Epilepsy League is still standing and until recently, housed the Maritime Reunion Association.
In 1959, the League was granted permission to establish a residence for 12 people with epilepsy as part of its programming. Here are a few of the House Rules established in support of the residence:
- Use the “Golden Rule”. Try to be happy and to contribute to the happiness of others. Learn and be ready to help each other at all times, day or night. Men or women can do much to help others of their own sex. Christian charity, pure and simple, must prevail here.
- No fraternizing between sexes will be permitted in the dormitories.
- 7:15 a.m. is the daily rising time.
- Breakfast is served between 8:00 and 8:30 a.m., no exceptions. Always sit in the same place unless advised otherwise. Be quiet during meals.
- Bed-time is at 10:30 p.m. Everyone must be in by this time…
An application to join the “Volunteer Bureau” was completed in 1959. Today, the Volunteer Bureau is known as Propellus. EAC maintains a membership with Propellus to this day.