History of the Hamilton & District Ostomy Association

Allan Porter was the founder and first President of our organization. There are literally thousands of people worldwide who remember him for his pioneering work in Hamilton’s ostomy community, UOA Canada (now UOAC – the United Ostomy Association of Canada) and UOA Inc., the parent organization in the United States (now renamed UOAA -the United Ostomy Association of America).

Al was Chief Medical Technologist at the Hamilton General Hospital back in 1962. He was only 45 years old when he was stricken with ulcerative colitis. Al knew full well what was likely to happen if the bleeding continued. He would simply bleed to death. It wasn’t until May 16, 1965, on his 48th birthday, that he got his life-saving ileostomy. A month later, Al was back at work.

In 1966, Al attended an Ontario Medical Association Convention in Toronto where he met a few ileostomates from the Toronto Ileostomy Association (now Ostomy Toronto). Al joined the Toronto Chapter.

After a year of commuting to monthly meetings in Toronto, Al decided to seek out other ostomates in the Hamilton area. The goal was to form an Association! With the help of the Metro Hamilton Cancer Society, he received publicity through newspaper and radio coverage, resulting in an historic meeting at the Cancer Headquarters in May 1968 where eighty ostomates attended. The very next night, with 30 dedicated members, the Ileostomy and Colostomy Association of Hamilton was born with its first official meeting. Al was elected President. The new association became an affiliate of UOA Inc. They met every month at the General Hospital until Al retired at the age of 65. He then moved the office to an empty classroom at Sacred Heart School through the generosity of The Hamilton-Wentworth Roman Catholic Separate School Board in Hamilton.

In the summer of 1982, Al set up a UOA ‘Canadian’ Office. This became a clearing house for ostomy publications and a Canadian centre for related information and supplies. In 1986, Al initiated the process to establish a ‘Canadian’ association for ostomates so that income tax receipts could be issued for donations to UOA Canada (Al chose the name). Now, the Hamilton office served two purposes:

1. To serve the needs of the now renamed “Hamilton & District Ostomy Association”. Our agency was incorporated through the issuing of Letters Patent dated September 29, 1974 and

2. To serve the needs of UOA Canada. UOA Canada was officially born on October 1, 1987 when it was granted its non-profit charitable status. Al was the Canadian office co-ordinator. The Hamilton Office was designated as the location of the new United Ostomy Association of Canada Inc. (UOAC) through Letters Patent dated August 23, 1991. The office was relocated to Toronto in 1994. The Canadian Association voted to become independent of the UOA Inc. in June 1997 at the International Ostomy Association Congress held in Calgary, AB.

Al died on January 17, 1995, two years before the Canadian Association became independent.

At present, the Hamilton & District Ostomy Association does not have an “office” as such, but holds its monthly meetings and Board of Directors Meetings at Sacred Heart Parish Community Centre, 24 Poplar Ave. Hamilton.