Our history

Portage is, and has always been, by, for, and of the community

Portage Lac Écho - 1970 - hiver

In the late 1960’s, a group of Montreal residents, concerned about the increasing prevalence of drug addiction in the city, set out to find a solution to this growing social problem.

A grassroots committee founded Portage in 1970. They chose Portage as the name of the organisation, as a symbol of the rehabilitation process:

“Portage: Finding a pathway around an
obstacle in order to continue the journey”

Portage Quebec - Since 1973

With funding from the J. W. McConnell Family Foundation, Portage’s first residential rehabilitation centre opened its doors on February 14, 1973, in Prevost, on Lac Écho, in the Laurentian Mountains near Montreal. The Portage Lac Écho centre is still in operation, now home to an adult rehabilitation program and two adolescent programs.
Adult and adolescent programs have also been extended to the Quebec City region, and specialised programs for pregnant women, mothers with young children, and people with mental illness have been established in Montreal.

Employment reintegration programs have also been established in Montreal and Quebec City.

Portage Ontario - Since 1985

In cooperation with the Government of Ontario, the Portage Ontario drug addiction rehabilitation centre for youth was established in Elora in 1985. 

Portage Atlantic - Since 1996

In collaboration with the Government of New Brunswick, various community members, and the Lions Services Clubs, the Portage Atlantic drug addiction rehabilitation centre for youth was established at Cassidy Lake, New Brunswick, in 1996.

Important Dates

1970 - The Portage Program for Drug Dependencies is incorporated.

1973 - The Portage Foundation is incorporated.

1973 – A drug addiction rehabilitation centre for adults is opened in Prévost, near lac Echo, in Quebec.

1975 – The Head Office in Montreal is opened.  

1975 – A Day Centre is established in Montreal, along with a program to provide services to family members.

1984 – A Day Centre in Quebec City is opened.

1985 – A residential addiction rehabilitation centre for adolescents is established in Elora, Ontario.

1987 – The Portage Employment Reintegration Centre is created in Quebec City.

1991 – A residential drug addiction rehabilitation centre for adolescents is established at the Portage lac Echo centre.

1995 – The residential rehabilitation program Mental Health and Addiction (MICA) is created.

1996 – The Mother and Child Program is created , a first of its kind in Canada.

1996 – A residential drug addiction rehabilitation centre for adolescents is opened at Cassidy Lake, New Brunswick.

1999 – A residential drug addiction rehabilitation centre for adolescents is opened in Saint-Damien-de-Buckland, Quebec.

2001 – A residential drug addiction rehabilitation centre for English-speaking adolescents is opened in Beaconsfield, Montreal.

2002 – MIRE (Movement for Integration and Retention in Employment), an employment reintegration program, is established in Montreal, in association with the Fondation Lucie et André Chagnon.

2009 - A residential addiction rehabilitation centre for adolescents is opened in Keremeos, British Columbia.

2009 – A Daycare centre, La Ribambelle, is opened at the Mother and Child centre in Montreal.

2009 - The Habitations Communautaires Portage Inc. are opened for the graduates of the Mother and Child program.

2010 - Portage is accreditated by Accreditation Canada.

2011 - Portage signs an agreement with the Wapan Rehabilitation Centre for Quebec First Nations.

2013 - Portage develops a rehabilitation program for the Inuit community who are serving time in prison.

International Activities

Since its first years of existence, Portage has been a member of several international drug addiction associations and has hosted and attended a number of international events.

Institutions and governments abroad have sought out Portage’s expertise over the years. Portage has been involved in establishing treatment programs, has served as a consultant, or has trained correctional and social services personnel in many countries, including:

  • United States
  • Hungary
  • Italy
  • Portugal
  • Belgium
  • Romania
  • Honduras
  • Philippines
  • Bermuda
  • China
  • Various Caribbean nations

Not only have these activities helped to establish long-term relationships abroad, but Portage’s transfer of knowledge and staff members to other countries has helped to build synergies and generate new ideas.