In June, 1961 Dr. Tudor Gencheff along with the help of the Canadian Polio Foundation opened the doors of Camp Gencheff to our first Campers.

Although the camp began with just a few rustic cabins it has expanded into a modern year round facility, which was erected in 1992. As did Dr. Gencheff, we strive to make this a memorable part of the lives of our special individuals by accommodating and encouraging all persons with disabilities to enjoy what Camp Gencheff has to offer.

How it all got started

“Mr. Baxter outlined available literature and supplies available for the March of Dimes Campaign, January 5 to 30, 1959 inclusive, being chosen dates for our province. As a project for this year’s campaign he suggested building a cottage hospital near the seashore…., which would provide a summer holiday camp for crippled children….. It would operate for a period of six weeks, accommodating approximately 20 children for each two-week period….. He further suggested that a committee be appointed to help draw up feasible plans for the campsite and building.

You may recognize some of the directors and executive of the PEI Polio Foundation for the 1958 year were:
President – J. Lincoln Dewar, Vice president – Judge St. Clair Trainor, Treasurer – Mr. William M. Melish, Secretary – Mrs. Edith Gates.
Going to the November 20, 1958 minutes, “Mr. Baxter then presented to the meeting his ideas and tentative plans for a summer camp for Polios and other crippled children….. We are the only province in Canada,….. which does not have a center where crippled children may enjoy a holiday at the beach under expert care and protection….. He thought we might possibly get Federal and Provincial assistance. . He envisages a cost of approximately $40,000. ….. He would like to winterize it, so as to be able to rent it to other clubs and organizations.

In February 23, 1960 the Polio foundation met and Mr. Lincoln Dewar, chairman of the Camp Site Committee reported that…… following negotiations with Eastern Trust Company, one of the Executors of the estate of F.L. Hazard and with representatives of the Stewart Family, tenants of “Bellevue Farm” …… near Tea Hill in Queens County, the chapter could purchase a portion of the said farm in excess of 20 acres for the sum of $4,000 as a Camp site for Crippled Children.

After a full discussion it was moved by Dr. Fisher and seconded by Dr. Gencheff that subject to the approval of a “View Committee” the PEI Chapter of the Canadian Foundation of Poliomyelitis purchase the property at a price not to excess $4,000. (this amount was increased to $5,000 at a later meeting)

Judge Trainor brought to the attention of the meeting the fact that as the Chapter was not incorporated, it was not capable of holding property in its name and he suggested that if the property is purchased the title should be taken in the name of trustees for and on behalf of the chapter

The trustees who were appointed were: Mr. Charles Linkletter, Mr. Lincoln Dewar, Dr. Gencheff, Mr. Herbert Baxter, and Mr. Harvey Campbell.

At the June 15, 1960 meeting Dr. Gencheff reported that 30 acres of shore property had been purchased at a cost of $5,000.00….(hard to imagine a price like that) He spoke of the desirability of the location in being close to Charlottetown….. and it suitability of the shore. When constructed it will be open to all handicapped children.

At the annual meeting on May 23 1961 Mr. Lincoln Dewar in his annual report said:

“Our organization depends on work and giving….. Our funds come largely from the public, richly endowed with sympathy for the handicapped….. He enumerated a number of our projects, stressing especially a major undertaking, the camp for crippled children, now under construction at Bellevue Cove

August 16, 1960 – Mr. Dewar reported on negotiations with the Rotary Club. The new executive of Rotary will meet with the Chapter to discuss the camp project.

The doors of the camp as we now know as Camp Gencheff opened for the first time on July
22 in 1961…. The first summer there were 34 children at the camp. From notes by Dr. Gencheff he suggested that because the country children had to leave early for school opening, next summer the country children should be priority for the first camp. …. Dr. Gencheff suggested at the September 1961 meeting that Mr. Dewar contact the Stewarts and ask them to inspect and check the camp periodically.

At the same meeting discussion was held regarding the wording of official sign for the camp. The feeling at the meeting was that a satisfactory sign might read as follows:

Bellevue Camp
Built by Polio foundation and operated
Jointly with the Rotary Club.

The November 1961 minutes include an item titled: Rotary Co-operation and talks of the $3,174.76 from the Rotary club for operating expenses of the camp.

I think of interest is President, Mr. Lincoln Dewar’s report to the annual meeting in 1962. It read like this: Mr. Dewar stated that today a new world of hope and usefulness is opened to those who have suffered from polio…. Medical science has made marked progress in correcting the ravages of the disease…. and new education techniques make it possible for handicapped persons to compete in the workaday world….. He said that during the past year the chapter has seen probably the most dramatic achievement of its thirteen years ….– the opening of the Bellevue Cove Crippled Childrens’ Camp…. He told of the financial assistance of an interest free loan of $15,000 from the Canadian Foundation. and the operation of the camp …. in a financial way by the Rotary Club of Charlottetown from funds raised during the Easter Seals Campaign. This camp stands to serve all handicapped children.

At the annual meeting on May 10, 1965 President, Mr. Lincoln Dewar in his report said that the Crippled Childrens’ camp, supported by the Charlottetown Rotarians has made camping available not only to polio victims but to all children under 18 who qualify for this type of therapy.

In the same meeting, Mr. Dewar expressed deep appreciation of the work of our medical advisor, Dr. Gencheff and said that the Crippled Childrens’ Camp is largely a result of his vision and represents an enduring monument to a new comer to this province, a new comer who has made a great contribution to its life.

One final piece of our history I want to share with you comes from the May 25, 1966 minutes…

Rev Ross Howard read a citation to Dr. Gencheff prepared by Mr. Dewar on behalf of the PEI Polio Chapter. It expressed appreciation of Dr. Gencheff’s work with handicapped people of the province his work in the PEI Polio Chapter and regret at his leaving the province. It also suggested that the camp should be named, “The Gencheff Children’s Rehabilitation Camp.

Dr. Gencheff thanked the chapter for the honor bestowed on him. He spoke of his dream of a crippled children’s camp…… and thanked all people for their generous support. He spoke of the many pleasant associations …on the Island and promised to return to visit.