Judith ‘Billie’ Wilder’s commitment to Toronto Rehab follows an eight-decade’s long tradition in her family that began when her father first brought her as a 10-year-old child to Toronto Rehab’s legacy Queen Elizabeth Hospital to distribute Christmas presents to patients.
Both Mrs. Wilder and her father, Edward William (E.W.) Bickle, served as governors and philanthropic supporters of Queen Elizabeth Hospital. As board chair, Mrs. Wilder championed the reconstruction of the 130 Dunn Avenue location and the subsequent purchase and redevelopment of 550 University Avenue.
In 2007, Mrs. Wilder honoured her father with a landmark gift that was recognized with the renaming of Toronto Rehab’s Queen Elizabeth site to the E.W. Bickle Centrefor Complex Continuing Care.
The generous contributions of both time and financial support by Mrs. Wilder and her family have helped provide a superior quality of life to patients with progressive health conditions and set the stage for Toronto Rehab’s evolution today into a national and international leader in rehabilitation medicine and complex continuing care.
This month, we joined Mrs. Wilder and her family to celebrate her most recent giving towards an innovative landscape transformation at the sites of Toronto Rehab’s complex continuing care and long-term care centres. To honour her support and legacy, we are delighted to name the Billie Wilder Therapy Gardens that will incorporate new accessibility and therapy features while providing a site for research into the relationship between nature and human health.
“Toronto Rehab specializes in adult rehabilitation and long-term care. Rehab medicine is something that is very important as we all get older,” said Mrs. Wilder. “That’s why I supported the project to rebuild the gardens to span between the E.W. Bickle Centre and Lakeside Centre. This is something that really appealed to me. I think patients and families have long been comforted and invigorated by the park-like setting and the healing impact it has on people.”
Meticulously designed to both soothe and invigorate people with the widest possible range of health conditions, these gardens will help to stimulate the full range of senses including memory, hearing, touch, smell - and sometimes taste - in addition to the spectacular visual experience.
“Since our inception in 1874, we have travelled far, achieved incredible milestones and breakthroughs as a healthcare facility, always with a single-minded focus on helping individuals maximize their potential. Blessed with leaders, visionaries and supporters like Billie Wilder, a bright and magnificent future has been secured. For this, we are deeply grateful.” - Dr. Mark Bayley, Physiatrist-in-Chief, University Health Network & Medical Program Director, Toronto Rehab Institute and Janet Newton, Vice President, Clinical, University Health Network.
Mrs. Wilder is featured in this year’s Report to Our Community