Jean Vanier founded the original L’Arche community in France in 1964. Living in the small French village of Trosly-Breuil, Jean invited two men with intellectual disabilities from a local institution to create a home with him. He called this home L’Arche, meaning “The Ark.” 


Recognizing the need for such a community in Stratford, Marjorie Pickersgill along with the Board of Directors started L’Arche Stratford in 1973. With that, the fourth L’Arche Community in the world was born. L’Arche Stratford is among the oldest L’Arche communities in North America. Thanks to the generosity of many donors and the Sisters of Loretto,  the first property was located at the old St. Joseph convent beside St. Joseph Catholic Church.


Today, L'Arche Stratford has grown to include four homes, two semi’s and four individual apartments, as well as a very active Day Activities center. We are blessed with a vibrant and diverse community. L’Arche Stratford is non-denominational and inter-faith. In all that we live, we celebrate our diversity, whether in ability or faith tradition or culture, as these differences weave a beautiful tapestry which reflects our core belief that all people have unique and sacred value.


L’Arche is a school of love where we learn to love others who are different. This requires each person to grow in humility and to work on themselves. It means learning to see each person as somebody in whom God dwells, a person from whom we can receive gifts and who can help us to grow in love. The belief in the inner beauty of each and every human being is at the heart of all true education and at the heart of being human.”

- Excerpt from a letter of Jean Vanier – September 2009.