In 1944, Edmund Desjardins was confined to a wheelchair as a result of a training accident at Sandhurst Military College in England. Since that time, he has dedicated his life to the development of rehabilitation services and the design of public facilities to make them accessible to all. His work has directly benefited many thousands of lives.
He was a founding director of the G.F. Strong Centre and in 1948, he became its first manager, a post he held until 1979. He guided its development into an outstanding rehabilitation institution.
As Chairman of the Architectural Committee for the Social Planning and Review Council of British Columbia, Mr. Desjardins prepared and presented a comprehensive set of design standards for persons with disabilities that was adopted by the City of Vancouver in its building by-law. His work was also important in the incorporation of design standards for accessibility into British Columbia provincial building codes.
Mr. Desjardins was appointed to the Order of Canada in 1975 and received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of British Columbia in 1981 for his distinguished service. While focusing limitless energy on physical rehabilitation and the removal of architectural barriers, Mr. Desjardins has, by his own personal example, inspired many to become productive contributors rather than dependents.
As one of this colleagues put it, “His aim is the rehabilitation of the spirit” – an ideal he now pursues as a member of the Premier’s Advisory Council for Persons with Disabilities.