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The original George Derby Centre was built over 50 years ago as a rehabilitation centre for young disabled veterans returning from the war with the goal of promoting their return to community living. In 1988, the new George Derby Centre opened as a 300-bed Intermediate Care facility providing residential care to former veterans of the Armed Forces deemed eligible for admission by Veterans Affairs Canada. The Centre’s operations are funded by the Government of Canada and the Province of British Columbia. This unique partnership is defined in the existing Federal/Provincial Transfer Agreement which stipulates the range of services provided to our veteran resident population. The Centre is named in honour of George Cleveland Derby.
George Cleveland Derby was born in Selkirk, Ontario on May 12, 1889. He died in Shaughnessy Hospital at the age of 81 on January 5, 1971.
In 1914, Mr. Derby was employed in Vancouver as a Broker. On September 18, 1915, at the outbreak of World War I, he enlisted as a private in the 72nd Battalion, Seaforth Highlanders, Canadian Expeditionary Force. He was stationed in England from April to August 1916 and was then sent to France. In November 1916 he suffered a concussion that seriously impaired his hearing. In April 1917, during the preliminary fighting at Vimy, an exploding shell buried him in a trench and left him with a permanently disabled knee. He was invalidated to England in May 1917 and returned to Canada that November. As his injuries were permanent, he received his army discharge in January 1918 and left his unit with the rank of Sergeant.
In September 1918, George Derby joined the Department of Solders’ Civil Re-establishment, the forerunner of the Department of Veterans Affairs. During World War II, he was District Administrator for the Department in Vancouver. He headed a committee responsible for drafting the Veterans’ Charter, which set forth the provisions for members of the Armed Services returning to Canada and planning to re-enter civilian life. His work on this committee took him to wartime England where he was awarded the Order of the British Empire in 1943 for patriotic and philanthropic work.
When George Derby returned to Canada, he became Western Regional Administrator in Vancouver for the newly formed Department of Veterans Affairs. In 1946, he negotiated the land acquisition for a new veterans’ hospital, and in that year, the George Derby Centre was named in his honour. He remained with Veterans Affairs Canada in Vancouver until his retirement in 1956.
George Derby was an elder of Shaughnessy United Church, a director and one-time Chairman of the Alcoholism Foundation, a past President of the Canadian Red Cross Society and a Director of the Salvation Army Grace Hospital. He was also active all of his life in the Masonic Order.