Who we are

A community where everybody belongs


The Beta Sigma Phi Society hosted the first organizational meeting on June 10, 1955 at the YWCA for parents, friends and individuals interested in seeing an Association formed. Their motto was “Don’t let a retarded child become a discarded child”. The Rotary Club of Woodstock and the Knights of Columbus were first to each give $25.00 donations to support this Association.


  • Reg Hill became the President
  • Garfield Slemmon became the 1st Vice-President
  • Les McKerral became the 2nd Vice-President
  • Nancy Campbell became the Recording Secretary
  • Doris Baker (Beta Sigma Phi) became the Corresponding Secretary
  • Ruth Hill became the Treasurer

Also, Harry Henderson, Chairperson of the Rotary Crippled Children’s Committee was on the Ways and Means Committee. Classes were organized for children with developmental disabilities to start in September at the Moose Lodge.

On November 1, 1958 the Rotary Club took on the project of raising funds for a new school. The Agency was incorporated in October 1959 as Woodstock and District Association for Retarded Children. In April 1960, the Nash property north of Devonshire Avenue was purchased for the school, with the official sod turning ceremony taking place on March 9, 1961. The Rotarians supplied transportation for in-town pupils, driving over 1,000 miles a year until the School Board took over in 1969. Volunteers from the Rotary Club were still driving for the Nursery School until the end of 1971.

WDDS has grown over the years in response to the needs and wishes of people with a developmental disability, their families and the community.

smiling man in kitchen
wdds people using screen readers
people singing and playing music

Historical Timeline


Month Year Fact
June 10 1955 Formation meeting for the Local Association - Woodstock & District Association for the Mentally Retarded (W.D.A.M.R.)
September 1955 First class for trainable children established in the Moose Hall.
October 1959 Incorporated as Woodstock and District Association for Retarded Children
September 1961 Opening of Blossom Park School.
September 1963 Opening of A.R.C. Industries.
September 1967 Oxford County Board of Education became responsible for Blossom Park School.
March 1974 Opening of W.D.A.M.R. Adult Residence at 373 Blossom Park Road 19 beds.
May 1976 Opening of W.D.A.M.R. Adult Residence at 373 Huron Street - 7 beds.
April 1978 Opening of ARC Industries Plant #2 at 1057 Parkinson Road.
April 1980 Opening of ARC Industries Plant #3 in Ingersoll.
August 1980 Opening of the Apartment Support Program (as of April 1983, the S.I.L. (Supported Independent Living) Program.
October 1980 Opening of the Developmental Centre.
September 1983 Opening of the C.A.P. (Community Activity Program) operated at ARC Industries - Plant #1
October 1983 Opening of Townhouse Program (Adult Residence) at 6-125 Bay Street - 4 beds.
September 1985 Oxford County Board of Education became responsible for Developmental Centre for school age children; W.D.A.M.R. continues to operate preschool program.
May 1986 Opening of Retirement Program funded by the Ministry of Health for 5 persons residing in Homes for Special Care.
September 1986 W.D.A.M.R. offices, ARC Industries, Plant #1 and #2, CAP and Retirement Programs move to their new facilities at 212 Bysham Park Drive, following a 2-year fundraising campaign
September 1987 Pre-school program incorporated in a generic day care program.
September 1987 Vocational Alternatives Program (V.A.) established.
November 1987 Family Support Program was established, serving all of Oxford County.
May 1988 Name changed from Woodstock & District Association for the Mentally Retarded to Woodstock & District Developmental Services.
June 1988 Name changed from Woodstock & District Association for the Mentally Retarded to Woodstock & District Developmental Services.
January-June 1988 SIL Program expanded to include 6 additional residences, encompassing all the residents from Blossom Park and six residents from ORC (Oxford Regional Centre)
June 1988 Blossom Park residence closed; sold to Oxford County Child & Youth Services.
August 1989 4 additional houses added to SIL Program; 14 February 1990 people admitted from ORC.
September 1989 Workshop in Ingersoll closed. All individuals placed in community jobs or bused to ARC Industries in Woodstock.
November 1989 Support Services (Intake, V.A., Leisure, SIL 1 and Family Support) and Core Services (ARC, CAP, Retirement, Residential, Building and Property) Divisions were created.
April 1990 Support Services moved to new office at 524 Dundas Street, Woodstock.
September 1990 Co-ordination of Literacy/Numeracy Program with Oxford County Board of Education.
June 1991 Retirement Program closed.
August 1991 Opening of Support Services office in Ingersoll - 175 Thames Street South, Ingersoll.
September 1992 C.A.P. addition built
April 1992 School to Work Employment Program initiated.
March 1994 5 barrier free homes built and added to SIL. - Nine people admitted from ORC. • Now own eleven SIL homes, and operate 17 SIL homes in total.
April 1994 Closure of Huron Street group home - individuals moved to one of the new SIL homes. Transferred ownership of all agency homes to WOODMAR Non-Profit.
May 1994 Dissolve Support Services into Leisure, Accommodation and Employment. - Leisure Program with C.A.P. - Employment Support with A.R.C. - Accommodation Support with S.I.L.
October 1994 Extended employment services to include Recycling; an independent numbered company serving the city. Individuals employed are shareholders
November 1994 Huron Street renovated and converted to a SIL home.
January 1995 Downtown office moved to 40 Wellington Street. Employment Support moved to the Main Building.
November 1995 Teens Needing Teens social group started.
July 1996 Teen Summer Camp offered. March Break Camp approved.
April 1997 Opened Parent Relief location (James Street).
August 1997 Change ARC Industries from Sheltered Employment to Work Pool
September 1998 External leisure options being provided at home and the C.A.P. focusing on Day Program activities.
October 1998 Closed Parent Relief location (James Street). Employment Support office moved to Community Employment Services (CES) and Ingersoll Learning Education Resource Centre (ILERC)
December 1998 Family Home Program initiated.
April 1999 Leisure Program renamed Community Activity Program (CAP)
June 1999 Linking with friends initiated in Accommodation
December 1999 Family Home Program closed.
February 2000 Employment Support renamed as Job Links.
May 2000 Incorporate Agency Ambassador for FOH Campaign
April 2001 Closing of the 40 Wellington Street Office
May 2001 Purchase of 104 East Park Drive Property
June 2001 Incorporate Les McKerral Award
January 2002 Closing of Unit #26-879 Parkinson Road
January 2002 Opening of 106 East Park Drive
February 2002 Opening of 104 East Park Drive
April 2002 Linking Program (Trillium Grant)
November 2002 Closing of Unit #1-863 Parkinson Road
January 2003 Closing of 436 Ojibway
July 2003 Renovations to main building 12 additional offices
June 2003 Core Services was restructured to create 2 new Divisions: Support Service (Accommodation, SIL and Community Access Supports) and Employment (ARC and Job Links)
January 2004 Community Access Supports restructured to include Senior and Active Areas
March 2004 Linking Program ended (Trillium Grant finished) Purchase of 15 & 16 Parrott Place ILERC office in Ingersoll closed
February 2005 Opening of 511 Parrott Place, Closing of 47 Silcox
March 2005 Opening of 507 Parrott Place
March 2005 Closing of 373 Huron Street
April 2005 Restructuring of Parent Relief, now Respite Program
April 2005 New Logo for WDDS
July 2005 Renovations to main building – new roof
January 2006 373 Huron Street reopened after renovations
September 2006 Rosemary George, Executive Director retires after 37 years of services; John F. Bedell joins WDDS as new Executive Director
November 2006 “Transitions” program began
January 2007 “Taste of Woodstock” Catering Social Enterprise began
February 2007 New Vision and Mission Statement for WDDS
March 2007 “Safe Space” built at 373 Huron Street residence
March 2007 New Value Statements for WDDS
May 2007 “Transitions” program moves to 225 4B Bysham Park Drive
May 2007 25th Anniversary of Sports Celebrity Dinner Decision to dismantle Sports Celebrity Committee and reflect on new fundraiser – partner with Woodstock-Oxford Rotary Club through their Fish Fry
October 2007 Building of two (2) Greenhouses at 212 Bysham Park Drive
January 2008 Opening of 242 Buller Street
January 2008 Setup Student Bursary-Rosemary George Award
April 2008 WDDS partners with the Woodstock-Oxford Rotary Club Annual Fish-Fry Fundraiser
September 2008 Incorporation of Bysham Park Housing Corporation
January 2009 WDDS 50th Anniversary Celebration begins
March 2009 Received three (3) year Accreditation from FOCUS Standards for Human Service Agencies (3rd Agency to receive)
June 2009 50th Anniversary Community Picnic
June 2009 YardBasics Social Enterprise
October 2009 50th Anniversary Gala Dinner with Guest Speaker The Honourable, David C. Onley Lieutenant Governor of Ontario
February 2010 Ronald McDonald Grant for Adaptive Equipment Family Loan Program
September 2011 Purchase of 68 Young Street Property
April 2011 Opening of 846 John Street – Group Living
December 2011 WDDS assumes Annual Charity Curling Bonspiel in partnership with Woodstock Curling Club
January 2012 212 Bysham Park washrooms are renovated to improve accessibility through the Government of Canada’s Enabling Accessibility Fund
January 2012 8-plex Housing project for 68 Young Street, approved through Affordable Housing Fund for future housing project
March 2012 Achieve Re-Accreditation for an additional four year period, from March 2012 to March 2016
March 2012 Capital Campaign planning to raise funds for Young Street and Downtown projects
April 2012 Alternative Supportive Housing Program in place
December 2012 68 Young Street opens
December 2012 1142 Cree and 589 Hatch Group Living Homes close
February 2013 Capital Campaign Official Launch
March 2013 Hatch Street Group Living re-opens
April 2013 Transitions Program – Renamed “Options”
April 2013 Purchase of lot 60 Young Street
July 2013 John F. Bedell, Chief Executive Officer retires after 7 years of services; Kathy Straus, is WDDS new Chief Executive Officer
November 2014 Construction on Addition/Renovations to 212 Bysham Park Capital Expansion project begins
June 2015 60 Young Street Opens 225 Bysham Park closes; FS, SIL, Job Links moves to the 60 Young Street location
January 2016 Closure of ARC Industries
March 2016 Received four (4) year Accreditation from FOCUS Standards for Human Service Agencies
April 2016 Open House at 212 Bysham – opening ceremony of Toyota Community Rooms part of celebration, as well as new learning rooms and renovated kitchen
April 2017 252 and 254 Clarke Street opens
September 2017 Construction on additions/renovations to 212 Bysham Park ends
September 2018 4 Wendy Calder Place Opens
May 2019 60th Anniversary Open House
September 2019 NEXUS Program opens at 60 Young Street
September 2019 Kathy Straus, CEO retires after 16 years of dedicated service to WDDS (CEO for the past 6 years/10 years as the Director of Operations); Belinda Burger joins WDDS as new CEO