Press Releases


MONTREAL, SEPTEMBER 17, 2013 – For 144 years, the story of Thomas Widd was lost. Widd, a deaf-mute newspaper editor from England, was the founder of the Protestant Institute for the Deaf and Mute, a Montreal institution that since 1877 carried the name of Joseph Mackay.

With the namesake of the Mackay Centre emanating from Mackay, the individual who donated the money and the land for the building, it was Thomas Widd, an immigrant from England, who founded the school in 1869, eight years before Mackay’s donation.

Long lost, the story of Widd’s contributions to the special needs community of Montreal was discovered following a call for submissions to the “Lost Stories Project,” a television series undertaken by Rudin which will document little known stories about Canadian history. Widd’s journey to Montreal and impact on the community will be the subject of the pilot.

In addition to shedding light on various lost stories, each episode will culminate with the unveiling of a public piece of art to honor the subject at hand. As such, Widd was honored with a mural depicting his journey from England, via Montreal, to his final resting place of California, which is on permanent display outside the Mackay Centre (3500 Decarie Blvd).

“This was an important day for the Mackay Centre,” said Patrizia Ciccarelli, Principal of the Mackay Centre. “We traced back the history of our school and what we did not know that it was Thomas Widd, who came from England and was deaf himself, who started the school. Thankfully, we finally had the chance to honour his memory and contributions that he made to the deaf community here in Montreal.”



Michael J. Cohen
Communications and Marketing Specialist
English Montreal School Board
Tel: (514) 483-7200 ext. 7243
Fax: (514) 483-7213