A Brief History of Renfrew

For more than 48 years, Renfrew has served children and families in the Calgary area. Our long-standing history exists because of one incredibly special woman – our Executive Director, Janice McTighe.

In the early years, Renfrew operated a community kindergarten classroom. It was then that Janice was approached by the Alberta Children’s Hospital to accept a child with disabilities into the program. This was a pivotal moment in our history.

Inspired by this one child, Janice had a dream and a vision. A dream to build innovative educational facilities where children with disabilities could have all the supports needed to develop to their full potential, and a vision of a world full of possibilities for every child.

Nearly half a century later, Renfrew’s school programs and services are still grounded in Janice’s belief that all children deserve access to educational programs that address their unique areas for growth, and that learning can be maximized in an inclusive environment where children of all abilities learn side-by-side.

Four Vibrant Schools

After increased demand for Renfrew’s unique educational services, our first school for children in early childhood to Grade 6 was built in Calgary’s Vista Heights neighbourhood. Through the organization’s fundraising efforts and the outstanding generosity of corporate Calgary, the Janice McTighe Centre opened its doors in September of 1998.

Next came our Bowness Centre with expanded services for children with autism spectrum disorder and Cerebral Palsy, followed by our Thomas W. Buchanan Centre location serving children in preschool through Grade 6 in the south end of the city.

In 2010, we opened our Child Development Centre location adjacent to Alberta Children’s Hospital in northwest Calgary. This centre houses preschool classrooms and our Community Services department.

Awards and Recognition

Today, our innovative, internationally recognized approach to education for children with physical and cognitive disabilities has translated into enhanced educational experiences and richer lives for countless children and families.

Renfrew’s success offers a powerful and inspiring example of all that can be achieved when caring and compassionate people come together to achieve a vision.

Accolades to date include:

  • Janice McTighe was recognized as one of the “Top 7 over 70” – An Awards Program Celebrating Older Adults in Calgary & Area – October 2024
  • Janice McTighe was presented with the Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Medal – November 17, 2022
  • Renfrew Educational Services wins a Health & Safety “Achievers Award” – September 2019
  • Janice McTighe receives the Calgary Stampede’s Western Legacy – Innovator Award – October 28, 2014
  • Intercultural Dialogue Institute (IDI) Calgary, Community Service Award presented to Janice McTighe – June 07, 2013
  • Renfrew Educational Services wins Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award – June 07, 2013
  • Janice McTighe receives The Mayor’s Awards for Community Services – April 09, 2012
  • Janice McTighe receives Alberta Order of Excellence Award – May 02, 2011
  • Janice McTighe receives The City of Calgary Awards 2008 – September 01, 2009
  • Janice McTighe receives the YWCA Woman of Distinction Award – Lifetime Achievement – 2001
  • Janice McTighe receives the Premier’s Award for Outstanding Service to Alberta Families – 1994
  • Janice McTighe receives a Paul Harris Fellowship Award, Rotary Clubs of Calgary