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John Howard Society of Durham Region
Mission: To reduce the impact of crime and its causes by providing a spectrum of effective prevention and intervention programs.
Main office: 905-579-8482, 75 Richmond Street West, Oshawa, Ontario, L1G 1E3

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About JHS Durham

[ History ]

[ Who Was John Howard ]

[ Annual Reports / Financial Statements ]

Vision Statement:

We envision a Durham Region where everyone contributes to a safe, healthy and just community.

Mission Statement:

To reduce the impact of crime and its causes by providing a spectrum of effective prevention and intervention programs.

Core Values:

Our Board of Directors

President/Chair - Gordon Brook

Secretary/ Rep to JHS Ontario- Abb Gilbert

Treasurer - Peter Stephenson


Hugh Peacock               Ted Marks

Rob Snell                     Paul Martin

Sue Vanderkwaak         



The first official meeting of the John Howard Society of Oshawa-Whitby was on October 23, 1962. This assemblage was made possible, largely through the efforts of Mr. Keith Couse, Executive Assistant of the John Howard Society of Ontario.

The initial branch members were: Rev. Coffey, Mr. E. Parker, Mr. E.A. Doyle, Mr. A. Greene, Mr. E. Marks, Rev. H. Mellow, Mr. W. Paynter, Mr. F. Popham, Mr. H. Pineau, Mr. H.M. Sparks, Mr. N. Spring, Rev. A. Woolcock, and Mr. W.A. Smith.

Mr. Harold McNeill (Judge McNeill) acted as an associate of the John Howard Society for the City of Oshawa for approximately ten years prior to this branch's formation.

Due to the increase in the services the Society provided, the move from a lay branch to a staffed branch was needed.

The appointment of a branch co-ordinator was made possible through the support of the United Way.

The first appointment was made November 1974 and was followed in September 1975 by a move to appoint Mr. William Fry as Executive Director.

Due to the expansion of services and funding over the years, several name changes have been necessary to indicate the area served: for instance, The John Howard Society of Oshawa-Whitby-Newcastle in 1983.

In 1984 funding was made available from the Ajax/Pickering United Way and a sub office was opened there, resulting in our final name change which reflects our outreach across the Region. Thus, we became:

The John Howard Society of Durham Region

In October 1985 a Residence for young people opened in Whitby.

An office was opened in Bowmanville in May 1986, to more adequately serve the Newcastle (now known as Clarington) area.

In May 1990 a Residence for young people opened in Oshawa.

There are many branches of the John Howard Society across Ontario and Canada. These branches provide a wide variety of services reflecting client and community needs.

So Who Was John Howard?

John Howard was an Englishman who was born in 1726. In 1756, hearing that an earthquake had destroyed parts of Portugal, John Howard sailed on a merchant ship to offer assistance. It was the beginning of the Seven Years' War between England and France, however, and on the voyage to Lisbon, French pirates overtook the vessel and made prisoners of the passengers and crew. They were thrown into the bowels of the ship, without food or water, and once in Portugal, were kept in inhuman conditions in a dungeon prison.

When John Howard was eventually released in a prisoner exchange, he returned to England where he spent the next 17 years attempting to reform the prison systems of England and Europe. He became High Sheriff of Bedfordshire, lobbied government officials, and eventually succeeded in affecting major changes in prison conditions. In 1782, the University of Dublin honored John Howard with the degree Doctor of Law.

John Howard spent his last days in Russia, investigating conditions in military hospitals and prisons, and helping doctors battle the plague that killed him in 1790. He is buried in Cherson on the Black Sea in Russia. A commemerative statue of John Howard stands in St. Paul's Cathedral in London.

For some interesting reading about John Howard follow the links below


The Sunday Library for young persons - Vol. II The Life of John Howard

The Memoirs of John Howard : Compiled from his diary his confidential letters and other authentic socuments


Then What Happened?

1816 - "The Society for the Reformation of Prison Discipline" was founded by followers of John Howard. This became "The Howard League for Prison Reform"which continues in Great Britain today.

1884 - The first "Prisoners' Aid Society" in Canada was founded to assist prisoners discharged from the Don Jail in Toronto. It operated through WW1.

1929 - The Police Chief of Toronto, Brigadier General D.C.Draper, founded the Citizens' Service Association to help men released from prison. In 1946, this was renamed the John Howard Society of Ontario.

Branches of the John Howard Society began to be founded across Ontario and in every province in Canada:

1947 - London
1949 - Hamilton, St. Catherines, and Windsor
1950 - Kitchener
1953 - Sarnia
1955 - Kingston
1957 - Peterborough
1960 - Sudbury
1962 - October 23rd, Oshawa (later renamed Durham)
1968 - Thunder Bay
1969 - Sault Ste. Marie
1973 - Metro Toronto
1979 - Peel
1979 - Collins Bay Chapter
1985 - Victoria/Haliburton
1985 - Joyceville Chapter
2003 - Belleville
2010 - York Region