In 1949, desperate to find a cure and protect their children from polio, mothers across Canada joined in a North America-wide fundraising effort, going door to door in their own neighbourhoods to collect dimes.
The sheer scope of the campaign led entertainer Eddie Cantor to suggest the name "March of Dimes", based on the song "Brother can you spare a dime?" produced during the Great Depression.
By 1951 the Canadian Foundation for Poliomyelitis was established and granted use of the name "Ontario March of Dimes."
In 1955, after the polio vaccine created by Dr. Jonas Salk proved effective in limited test trials, laboratories rushed to manufacture the vaccine, including Connaught Laboratories (now sanofi pasteur) in Toronto, Canada.
With the threat of polio greatly diminished, the March of Dimes in Canada began funding centres for people who had already contracted the disease, with early programs focused mostly on rehabilitation and job training.
By the early 1960s, the organization had grown in both size and mandate, shifting considerably to serve the broader needs of all adults with physical disabilities. In Ontario the legal name of the organization was changed to the Rehabilitation Foundation for the Disabled.
In 2006, Ontario March of Dimes registered the operating name of March of Dimes Canada. Today, March of Dimes is dedicated to helping children and adults across Canada to lead more independent lives.
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