Era I - Pre Professional Age (1900s - 1920s)

Occupational Therapy (OT) stemmed from the arts and crafts movement and the moral treatment movement. Originally, there was no specific training for Occupational Therapists. However, the focus of OT practice was on the holistic point of view and looked beyond just medicine to find a sense of mental achievement and being productive.

The influence from the arts and crafts movement was to increase leisure and productivity through "hand and mind = health". The moral treatment movement helped facilitate the holistic point of view by actively involving the patients into the treatment.

In Canada, like in other parts of the world, occupational therapy had its early beginnings when doctors started to prescribe moral treatment for patients in the late 1800's in TB sanatoriums and mental hospitals. Later, in fear of exploiting patients, activity was moved away from realistic work to classes in occupational rooms led by occupational workers.

During World War I, 1914 - 1918, vast numbers of wounded men required activity to assist them to resume their daily living roles and at first volunteers assisted them. When the need for training was realized, the University of Toronto established first a 6 week, then a 3 month long course. From 1918 - 1919, 356 "suitable young ladies" graduated as occupational aides qualified to instruct in bedside occupation. These women worked in military hospitals.