Forty Two Years of Miracles

Each of us carries within the capacity to change the world in small ways for better or worse. The Thorpe Recovery Centre has served in the field of addiction treatment for 42 years. Below is a small glimpse of how a group of people made the ripples necessary to begin something amazing.

In the 50’s and into the 60’s it was next to impossible to get an alcoholic who going through withdrawal stages admitted into the Lloydminster hospital. The reason being that they often were not very co-operative patients, pulling out their IVs, jumping out of windows and just generally causing all kinds of disruptions which at the same time going through the DTs and tremors, the physical side effects of coming off of alcohol withdrawal. The hospital staff at the time didn’t feel qualified to handle these volatile situations. The 2 places that would accept men and women struggling with addiction were asylums and jail.

Walter A. “Slim” Thorpe and Ron Harris Sr., both known in the community as two men with big hearts for those struggling with addiction and well known in the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) groups were approached to come and speak with the Lloydminster Hospital Board and medical staff regarding this difficult situation.

Walter A. “Slim” Thorpe

Florence & Ron Harris Sr.

The bottom line for everyone was finding a place where people suffering from addiction could get the proper care and support. An agreement was made with the local AA group who were willing to sit with patients 24 hours a day while they were going through their withdrawal periods. After the patient felt better and was released from hospital he would be picked up by Slim, Ron or other members of AA and taken to a meeting. Unfortunately after a while he would begin to feel and slowly his old ways of living and drinking would start to creep back into his life. At this point the journey would start all over again with Ron and Slim working hard to get this individual back into the hospital for what might be his third, fourth or fifth time. This swinging door of alcoholics coming in and out of the hospital was not working.

Beginning in the Spring of 1973 to August 1974, a series of meetings were held between SADAC, AADAC, several members of local Alcoholics Anonymous groups, the Lloydminster Hospital Board and local community leaders. In the Fall of 1974 the Hospital Board established a Detoxification Liaison Committee and appointed Ron Harris Sr., Peter Johnston, Bill Rekruitak, Ed Andersen, Dr. Ron Nattress and Slim Thorpe for the purpose of pursing this project. Eventually the necessary funding was put into place and in October 1975 Lloydminster’s first treatment centre moved into the main floor of the nurse’s residence, adjacent to the hospital.

Back Row L to R: Ron Harris Sr., Peter Johnston,
Alf Towner, Dr. Ron Nattress, Bill Rekrutiak

Front Low L to R: John Parker, Slim Thorpe,
Ed Andersen, Angus Campbell

Thorpe Recovery Centre 1975

Thorpe Recovery Centre 1988

Thorpe Recovery Centre 2012

When the Lloydminster Hospital began plans for building a new hospital in the location where it stands today, the Thorpe Board were faced with some difficult decisions. Some people were keen for Thorpe to stay in the Nurses Residence and take over the entire building. Others looked at the cost of the upkeep and renovations that would need to be done and thought the better course of action would be to build a new building. Property was found on the Alberta side of Lloydminster and plans were drawn up for a new building.

In February of 1988, the Thorpe Recovery Centre moved to its new Alberta location. This facility was considered fully modern for it’s time, specifically designed for addiction services, it could house up to 30 clients for detox and residential addiction treatment.

Until 2003, the Thorpe Recovery Centre was almost totally dependent on government funding sources. This reliance limited the number of services the Thorpe could offer and the number of people it was able to serve, so it introduced a relatively new method of operation, fee for service. The 14 day program was extended to 21 days, then 28 days and 42 days in 2011.

Increased demand for treatment inspired a large construction campaign to build a state of the art facility that would provide the best care possible for more than 60 people. In 2012 the Thorpe moved in to its new home in Blackfoot, Alberta just 10 km west of the City of Lloydminster. This 54,000 sqft built on 34 acres of land has allowed us to expand the services that we can provide our clients.

Through all the changes over the last 40 years what has always remained constant is Thorpe Recovery Centre’s commitment to improving the lives of the people who walk through our doors and by extension their families and friends. We believe that each client comes with an individual story and experience. During treatment we do everything to honour each client’s uniqueness through various treatment techniques.

Our services now include:

– Medically Supported Detox
– Residential Treatment Centre
– Individual & Group Counselling
– Continuing Care


– Family Intensive
– Sex Addiction Intensive
– Gambling Intensive
NEW Winter 2017 Children’s Program Nov 3-5
– Recovery Tune Up Intensive
– Grief Intensive