In 1911, when Dr Herbert Bruce founded the Wellesley Hospital, Toronto was a city teeming with immigrants. Many of the new arrivals lived in substandard housing, lived on low incomes and suffered poor health. Fast forward to Toronto of 2011, a city that celebrates its cultural diversity, yet many recent immigrants still suffer higher rates of illness and early death compared to resident Canadians, and live in substandard housing on low incomes. Over the years, there have been many initiatives that have had a powerful, and positive, impact on the health and lives of Torontonians – including the innovative urban health practice of the Wellesley Hospital. But inequalities remain deep and persistent, and the mission of Dr Bruce remains incomplete. The hospital was closed by the Ontario government in 1998, but the legacy of Dr Bruce and his urban health work is kept alive in the research and policy practice of the Wellesley Institute. Over the next year, as we mark the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Wellesley Hospital, we’ll continue to draw links between Toronto then and Toronto now. While some of the language that we use as we seek to move Toronto into a more equitable future may sound strange to the ears of Dr Bruce at the start of the 20th century, his pioneering spirit remains alive in our work.