Luke Elwood Family Fonds

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Luke Elwood Family Fonds

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  • Textual record
  • Graphic material
  • Sound recording
  • Moving images

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Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)

Dates of creation area


  • 1977-2016 (Creation)
    Elwood Family (fl. 1977-2016)

Physical description area

Physical description

1.28 m of textual and graphic material. – 1 VHS tape. – 36 audio tapes.

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Name of creator

(fl. 1977-2016)

Biographical history

Maureen and Richard “Rick” Elwood raised their two children, Melissa (b. 1975) and Luke (b. 1977) in Lawrencetown, Nova Scotia. Maureen was heavily involved in inclusion and integration efforts for people with disabilities and a regular attendee of meetings and conferences through the Canadian Association for Community Living (CACL); Rick worked as a firefighter. Both Melissa and Luke attended an integrated pre-school before the family’s fight for Luke’s inclusion at elementary school arose. It was during Luke’s Grade Three year that the fight reached Case status between Elwoods and the Halifax County-Bedford District School Board (HCBDSB). After an injunction ordered the School Board to allow Luke to stay in his mainstream classroom at Atlantic View School, the Case was eventually settled before trial. By June 1987, Luke would be able to stay with his peers all throughout his schooling years. The Elwood Family’s case set a precedent across Canada for the right to education for all students with disabilities and is a milestone in Nova Scotia’s disability rights history.

Custodial history

These records were collected by Maureen Elwood throughout Luke’s childhood and early adulthood. They were transferred to Acadia School of Education professor M. Lynn Aylward, Ph.D. in 2017 by Maureen Elwood while Dr. Aylward was working on the documentary film The Case of Luke Elwood. They were donated to the Esther Clark Wright Archives at Acadia University in 2021.

Scope and content

Fonds consists of records created and collected by Luke Elwood and the Elwood family (Lawrencetown, Halifax County, Nova Scotia) throughout Luke’s childhood and into early adulthood. These records reflect Luke’s experiences as an elementary student with an intellectual disability whose family challenged his placement in a Special Education class, rather than with his grade-level peers at his neighborhood school. The result was a court-ordered settlement, and Luke was permitted an integrated educational experience (see Biographical Sketch and Notes for more information). In addition to Elwood family-generated records, the fonds also contains collected material related to this landmark legal case, and subsequent scholarship.
The records of this fonds extend from 1977, when Luke was born, to 2016. They have been divided into three series and twelve sub-series:

  1. Luke Elwood records, between 1977 and 2004, in 53 folders. Includes sub-series:
    School work
    School documents (student program plans, reports)
    Material from peers and teachers
    Certificates and Awards
    Extracurricular activities
    Medical records

  2. Elwood family records between 1983 and 2002, in 60 folders. Includes sub-series:
    School communication journals
    Correspondence and related documents
    Diaries, notes, and presentations created by the Elwood family

  3. Luke Elwood Case records, between 1986 and 2016, in 151 folders. Includes subseries:
    Legal documents relating to the Luke Elwood Case
    Media, including press releases, newsletters, and newspaper articles

Notes area

Physical condition

While much of the collection is in good condition, some documents show signs of wear. This is especially true for pictures, where the lamination has deteriorated, and for certain schoolwork, medical records, school communication journals, and personal notes, which may have faded text or writing.

Immediate source of acquisition


Language of material

  • English

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    Location of originals

    Availability of other formats

    Digital reproductions of records not yet available.

    Restrictions on access

    Certain items containing sensitive information, such as in medical records and legal documents, are restricted for privacy reasons. Other materials may be open for research and education purposes. See individual record descriptions for restricted files.

    Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

    Records subject to the Copyright Act. Written permission from the Copyright holder is required in order to publish any of these records. Many of the records are subject to the Fair Dealing Act and may be disseminated on-campus for educational purposes. See individual record descriptions for more details.

    Finding aids

    Finding Aid available

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    None expected

    General note

    See also: The Case of Luke Elwood (Documentary film by M. Lynn Aylward and Matthew Rogers), available at  

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