About Mary Pack and the Mary Pack Arthritis Program

Mary Pack Archive

The Mary Pack Arthritis Program was one of the first multidisciplinary programs providing treatment services for people with arthritis in North America.

Who was Mary Pack?

Mary Pack was a home-school instructor who travelled from home-to-home teaching children who were too disabled to go to school, including those with juvenile arthritis.

Five-year odyssey for change

Moved by the suffering of these children and angry that there were few resources for those with arthritis, in 1944 she began a five-year odyssey for change. She believed that things would not change until Canada devoted resources to researching the causes and cures of arthritis. She wrote letters to people living with arthritis asking them to speak out, found doctors who were sympathetic to her cause and pulled together a dedicated group that lobbied government relentlessly.

Their efforts finally paid off and in 1949 the British Columbia Ministry of Health provided the Canadian Arthritis & Rheumatism Society (CARS) a $25,000 grant to deliver service to people with arthritis in BC. Mary became the executive director of CARS. Physical therapists were hired, and cars and equipment bought. These cars became mobile units that brought treatment to the homes of those most in need.

In 1994, Arthritis Society Canada (then known as the Arthritis Society) renamed their Vancouver Arthritis Centre to the Mary Pack Arthritis Centre in honour of her dedication to serving the needs of people with arthritis.

Mary Pack as an older adult standing in front of a photo of herself when she was younger.