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YMCA of Greater Toronto Historical Timeline
2000 - Today
The official opening of the new Durham Family YMCA facility at 99 Mary St. North in Oshawa occurred on January 28, 2000. It was the recipient of large donations from CAW, Local 222 and from General Motors among others.
The Youth Gambling Awareness Project received its initial provincial funding. The project was among the first outreach programs in North America to deal with the long-term impact of growing up in a world that sanctions gambling.
YMCA of Greater Toronto developed and published YMCA Playing to Learn™, a new early childhood curriculum that significantly increased the understanding of how children learn and develop in addition to building the capacity of YMCA staff to be among the best of early childhood educators.
The Newcomers Information Centre opened at 42 Charles St. East in November 2001, with the support of Citizenship and Immigration Canada. It provided help to new Canadians in various areas some of which were: information and referrals to community and government programs; computer and free Internet access; connections to education and employment services; and access to the full range of YMCA programs.
A partnership with the YMCA of Senegal was started.
The YMCA Academy a small innovative secondary school opened its doors. It started off at 42 Charles St. East and then moved to the Central YMCA building a few years later.
YMCA Cedar Glen Outdoor Discovery Campus, an environmental education facility, officially opened on October 15, 2003. It was situated on a 263-acre site near Nobleton, Ontario and served as a hub for enhanced day camp and outdoor education programs for youth and adults and as a leadership development facility.
YMCA Newcomer Centres helped 47% of Toronto’s newcomers (43,000 people from around the world).
The Markham Family YMCA broke ground in June 2004. A major partner was the City of Markham.
The Board of Directors approved the 2005-2010 Strategic Plan Making the Connections in June 2005.
The mission statement read as follows: The YMCA of Greater Toronto is a charity offering opportunities for personal growth, community involvement and leadership.
A new vision statement was also introduced: The YMCA of Greater Toronto will focus on making connections: connecting people, connecting with youth, and connecting with the community.
The YMCA Youth Gambling Program now in its fifth year of operation was adapted for the francophone community and a module for aboriginal youth was also developed.
The new Markham Family YMCA opened its doors. It was located at 101 YMCA Blvd. in Markham.
YMCA Playing to Learn™ curriculum developed by the YMCA of Greater Toronto was rolled out nationally with support from YMCA Canada. All Canadian YMCAs and some YMCAs in the United States adopted it.
A long-term partnership with the YMCA of Ghana was initiated.
The official opening of YMCA Sprott House located at 21 Walmer Road in Toronto occurred on September 17, 2007. It provided a new affordable and supported housing program for young adults aged 16 to 24.
The first graduating class from the YMCA Academy was made up of eight young people who received their high school diplomas.
The first formal Youth Advisory Committee was created. It was made up of members of supportive housing, substance abuse, and employment counselling programs.
The YMCA of Greater Toronto received the Maytree Foundations Trailblazer Award for diversity in governance and was named one of the GTA’s top 75 employers.
The mYfitness program was introduced in the health, fitness and recreation facilities. It offered customized support and guidance to individuals.
The annual YMCA Healthy Kids Day was launched in June to help families embrace lifelong healthy habits. It occurs the first Sunday each June.
The Toronto West End YMCA completed a three-year, $8 million dollar renewal project designed to meet the emerging needs for its community and fully re-opened in March.
Launch of Strong Start, Great Future: the YMCA of Greater Toronto 10-year Strategic Plan (2010-2020).
Our Mission: The YMCA of Greater Toronto is a charity offering opportunities for personal growth, community involvement and leadership.
Our Vision: Our communities will be home to the healthiest children, teens and young adults.
Our Values: The YMCA of Greater Toronto is guided by values that inform the way we act and the decisions we make: Caring, Health, Honesty, Inclusiveness, Respect, Responsibility.
A celebration was held to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of Camp Pine Crest.
Lumberman & Voyageurs: The YMCA Pine Crest Story
was also published.
The editors of the Canada’s Top 100 Employers project selected the YMCA of Greater Toronto as one of Canada’s Greenest Employers.
The West End YMCA celebrated 100 years in the building on College St at Dovercourt Rd.
The Toronto YMCA had international partnerships with Colombia, Ghana, Jamaica, Lebanon, Liberia, Mexico City, Myanmar, and Senegal.
The YMCA of Greater Toronto was presented with an award for being one of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers by the Canada’s Top 100 Employers project.
The YMCA of Greater Toronto was presented with an award for being one of Canada’s Top Employers for Young People by the Canada’s Top 100 Employers project.
160th anniversary of the founding of the YMCA of Greater Toronto was celebrated.
The YMCA of Greater Toronto launched its largest capital campaign ever, Strong Start, Great Future. The goal to build ten new Centres of Community.
The YMCA announced the naming of the new Cooper Koo Cherry St. YMCA and a $2 million gift from Krystal Koo and Michael Cooper. The 82,000 sq.ft. new facility will serve as the athletic training facility for the 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games in 2015 and re-open as a YMCA in 2016.
TD Bank Group donated $1 million to the Toronto YMCA Strong Start Great Future Campaign. TD's donation will ensure the YMCA's newest locations include green technology; waste conservation initiatives and energy retrofit projects.
On November 5, 2014, Pepsico Canada Foundation was honoured for reaching $1 million in support at the 25th Anniversary Celebration of the Mississauga Burnamthorpe Rd. YMCA.
In April, the official ceremonies were held to open the new Vanauley Street YMCA. The new 11,400 sq. ft. Centre of Community merges the emergency youth shelter of the former Y House opened in 1986 with expanded programs and services to meet the growing needs of the community.
Plans are underway for the development of the new Kingston Road YMCA Centre. The existing Y will be demolished and the new 52-65,000 sq.ft. Centre of Community will offer programs and services developed in response to this growing neighbourhood of young families and long-time residents. Opening is targeted for 2017.
1976 - 2000
Months of discussions between the Oakville YMCA/YWCA and The YMCA of Metropolitan Toronto led to the creation of The Central Ontario Lakeshore ‘Y’ (COLY) on May 13, 1976. Those served by COLY were the municipalities of Halton, Peel, York, Durham, and Metropolitan Toronto.
The West End Y offered programs to Portuguese Canadians many of who lived nearby.
On June 27th programs for Korean Canadians began at the West End YMCA. They were made possible by a grant from the Ministry of Culture and Recreation.
The opening ceremonies of the North York YMCA occurred on Saturday March 29, 1980 with guests North York Mayor Mel Lastman and the Hon. Bette Stephenson bringing greetings from the Province. The centre was located at 567 Sheppard Ave. East.
Camp Pine Crest became a co-educational camp.
The Canadian YMCA Fellowship of Honour was created, under the patronage of the Governor General of Canada. It recognizes outstanding volunteers and staff from across Canada. A number of volunteers and staff members from the YMCA of Greater Toronto have received the award over the years.
The opening ceremonies of the newly renovated West End YMCA occurred on April 3, 1982. The building had been closed for part of 1980 and 1981 so that it could be completely gutted, refurbished and re-equipped.
Child Care: The Toronto YMCA provided 2,700,000 hours of child care at more than 140 sites in the Metropolitan Toronto area.
The President’s speech at the 1983 Annual Meeting as recorded in the Annual Meeting Minutes reveals that 59% of total participants at the Toronto YMCA were female.
The new Metro Central YMCA opened at 20 Grosvenor St. two blocks north of the old building on College St., which had been sold to the Metropolitan Toronto Police.
YMCAs across Canada initiated an annual program to commemorate World YMCA Peace Week. YMCAs began to actively engage communities in programs to explore peace building, promote peace education and highlight peace movements in local and global communities.
Effective June 1, 1984, The Central Ontario Lakeshore ‘Y’ (COLY) net assets and operations were transferred to The YMCA of Metropolitan Toronto.
In 1985-1986 the Y extended its offering of the new Full Day Kinder Camp which gave pre-school campers a wide variety of skills and prepared them for subsequent years of Y camping.
A federally funded Job Generation program which trained unemployed young people aged 17-25 for positions in the food service industry was started. The 16-week course taught professional food preparation skills and offered life skills coaching and on-the-job training. The program took place at the 15 Robina Avenue building.
The YMCA Community and Youth Services Department opened its new Youth Substance Abuse Centre (YSAP) at 137 Jarvis Street, near Queen St. East in July 1985. The centre provided counselling and outpatient treatment for youths 16 to 24 years by providing an overall approach to abuse treatment. According to the
Toronto YMCA Annual Report
during 1989-1990 there were 982 registered participants.
The Y’s Prime Tyme Class for members who were 55 and over was started at Metro Central in October 1985. It offered a range of exercise designed for different levels of fitness including walking, jogging, and riding bikes during aerobic workouts. Those with limited movement ranges did chair work when others where on mats.
Toronto YMCA Mission Statement:
The YMCA of Metropolitan Toronto is an independent association of volunteers and professionals whose purpose is to offer people opportunities for personal growth and service to others. In pursuit of this goal, the association provides quality programs, which promote self-improvement and self-reliance through spiritual, mental and physical development. The programs of the YMCA are open to everyone regardless of race, sex, creed, or economic circumstance.
YMCA House opened on Queen St. West as an emergency and short-term shelter for young men aged 15-24 in need. Meals, one-on-one case management support and employment and education counselling were eventually also offered.
The YMCA Youth Enterprise Centre opened in the YMCA facility on Robina Ave. The primary goal was to assist new entrepreneurs 30 years of age and under in the development and successful operation of their own small businesses. This was the first national self-employment program sponsored by Human Resources Development Canada.
The official opening ceremony of the new building of the Mississauga YMCA was held on November 24, 1989. The branch was located at 325 Burnhamthorpe Road West, Mississauga. Among the guests were the Hon. Steven Offer, Solicitor General of Ontario; Her Workship Hazel McCallion, the Mayor of Mississauga; and Rich Bailey, CEO of YMCA Canada.
The new Scarborough YMCA building was officially opened on March 2, 1990. It was located at 230 Town Centre Court.
To help cope with the increasing number of plant closures, the YMCA, in 1990 created the Employment Adjustment Program as part of Adult Employment Services. It was run in co-ordination with the Ministry of Labour’s Employment Adjustment Branch.
The name of the Toronto YMCA was changed to the YMCA of Greater Toronto when a Board motion passed on September 15, 1992.
The YMCA of Greater Toronto Black Achievers Program began in September 1992. It was based on the Harlem Black Achievers model. Participants were exposed to a wide range of professional and educational opportunities and they were linked with mentors.
In June the Brampton YMCA joined the Toronto YMCA.
A partnership with the YMCA of Medellín, Colombia was started.
Child Care at the YMCA of Greater Toronto celebrated 25 years of licensed operation.
In June 1994, the Board unanimously approved the report
Delivering Our Vision: Strategic Outcomes
New Mission Statement: The YMCA of Greater Toronto is a charitable association offering opportunities for personal growth and service to others.
New Vision Statement: The YMCA will offer high quality programs at the heart of a healthy community.
At Camp Pine Crest, the old dining hall was replaced by a new camper-friendly building called Kekindewin, which in the Ojibwa language means, “a promise to gather again”. It was designed as an environmentally friendly space that could be used for many other activities and as such became “the functional heart of the Camp.”
The YMCA Enterprise Centre celebrated a 10-year anniversary. It was reported that three years after starting the program 80% of the participants were still in business. More than 900 businesses were started.
The Etobicoke YMCA Youth Employment Services announced the opening of the Rexdale Youth Resource Centre. This initiative was funded by Human Resource Development Canada.
The Brampton YMCA opened a new centre of community at 20 Union St. A night of recognition and celebration was held on April 4, 1998.
The YMCA Family Development Centre was launched in September 1998 in downtown Toronto. It supported families in an integrated and accessible setting. 280 family members found parenting services and a resource centre for themselves, their family and their community. Family programs ranged from drama and music to nutrition and infant massage.
1951 - 1975
Funds from the 1947 fundraising campaign helped to build a number of community type branches which were opened during the year:
The Northwestern YMCA building opened in April. The building was located at 2547 Eglinton Ave. West at Scott Road near Keele St. It became part of the North York YMCA in 1967.
The formal opening of the updated St Clair YMCA building also occurred in April. In 1973 it was renamed the Harriet Tubman Centre.
The Lakeshore YMCA-YWCA building opened in May. The building situated at 945 Lakeshore Rd., New Toronto was vacated in the summer of 1968 and put up for sale.
The North Toronto YMCA building opened in September. It was located at 130 Eglinton Ave. East. The building was sold in the 1970s.
The Toronto East YMCA building opened at 907 Kingston Rd. It eventually came to be used as a YMCA child care centre for many years. As of 2015, the property is to be developed as a full service centre with condominiums above as part of the Strong Start Great Future campaign.
In 1953 the Toronto YMCA operated 14-Day Camps with a registration of 3,022 boys and girls.
A new Constitution and By-Laws for the Toronto YMCA were adopted on September 22nd 1954. They replaced the 1923 Constitution.
The Broadview YMCA organized swimming programs, which included women. A Ladies Swim Club with women instructors met twice weekly, one of the classes being devoted to the techniques of life saving. As well, a Saturday night Family Swim program was started.
1954 Toronto YMCA Annual Report
reported the following:
Pioneered by the Y.M.C.A., the Day Camp idea has been taken up by many other organizations as a worthwhile summer activity for boys and girls.
Hurricane Hazel: On October 15, 1954 Hurricane Hazel hit Southern Ontario. The hurricane itself did no damage to buildings of the Toronto YMCA but heavy rains that preceded it damaged three centres including the Etobicoke branch where the basement was flooded. When the water had been pumped out of the basement, the building was used as a headquarters for military personnel dealing with the after-effects of the hurricane, as a clothing distribution centre, and for the preparation of food and drink for refugees and relief workers.
Camp Wangoma, a summer camp for boys opened. It was run by the East York YMCA and was situated on Lake Wannamaker near Bancroft, Ontario. It replaced Camp Sunfish on Lake Simcoe, which closed in 1955. The last year of operation for the camp was 1978 and the property was sold in 1982.
Through the courtesy of CHUM radio station in Toronto, a 15 minute YMCA radio broadcast called “Y” Time was heard on Sunday evenings. YMCA members who received training through a radio workshop produced the broadcast.
A North Toronto YMCA committee initiated the process that eventually led to the establishment of York University, which came to be organized as a separate corporation, not connected with the YMCA.
Dr. Murray G. Ross was appointed as the founding President of York University. He had had a long association with the Canadian YMCA as a staff member.
Dr. Ross was the author of:
The Y.M.C.A. in Canada: The Chronology of a Century
The Toronto Y.M.C.A. in a Changing Community 1864-1940
(M.A. thesis. 1947)
The Canadian YMCA Youth Fund raised $2.1 million for nation-wide projects in Canada including a new National Council (YMCA Canada) Headquarters. It was located at 2160 Yonge St. in Toronto.
The Toronto Central Lions Club sold the lease for Camp Beausoleil on Beausoleil Island in Georgian Bay to the Toronto YMCA for the sum of two dollars. The camp was closed in 1981.
The three Branch Boards of the Broadview, East York and Toronto East YMCAs decided to amalgamate to form the Eastview Branch.
Street work with alienated teenage youth was significantly expanded by the Toronto YMCA; full time detached youth workers were now related to the North Toronto, Eastview and Central branches.
Women participated increasingly in the YMCA’s physical fitness programs and branches record coeducational classes.
The Toronto YMCA Camping Branch was officially formed by action of the Executive Board on February 23, 1965. The summer camps that became part of the branch were Camp Pine Crest, Camp Beausoleil and Camp Wangoma.
The Westwood YMCA was established when the St Clair and High Park branches amalgamated.
Cedar Park Club at Masaryktown in Scarborough, an outdoor YMCA for families, was officially opened in February.
Licensed Child Care began at the Toronto YMCA. The Parkway Forest Jr. YMCA pre-school child care centre was opened south of Sheppard Ave. near Don Mills Road. The building was used until 2015 when it was replaced by a new purpose-built centre close by.
The York Conference was held at York University in Toronto – the first national conference ever held by the Canadian YMCA.
On February 3, 1969 the Rotary Club of Toronto, with the assistance of the Toronto Y, began a new Youth Employment Service (Y.E.S.). Y.E.S. was a co-operative effort of the Toronto YMCA, service and social agencies, business and industry.
The Toronto Y’s second apartment project was established in the Cadillac Parkway Forest apartment complex east of Don Mills Road and south of Sheppard Ave. commencing on November 1, 1969. Programs for the recreation and leisure time needs of 2,000 families living in apartments in the complex were set up.
A joint partnership of the Addiction Research Foundation and the Toronto YMCA called the “12 Madison Project” was organized to meet mutual goals relating to youth and drugs in Toronto. The project involved the development of drug education programs with school boards and community organizations.
The name of the Toronto Y was changed from the Toronto Young Men’s Christian Association to The Young Men’s Christian Association of Metropolitan Toronto. The Board on April 8, 1971 approved the change.
The Board of the Metropolitan Toronto YMCA initiated a long-range financial development campaign called Investment in Values, which helped to transform the Toronto YMCA. It resulted in the building of four new full service program centres including North York (1980), Metro Central (1984), Mississauga (1989) and Scarborough (1990). The plan also called for a major renovation of the West End YMCA (1982).
The West End Y in 1973 with the assistance of the Laidlaw Foundation, the Department of National Health and Welfare, and the Police Department opened the first “all Black Youth Centre” at 15 Robina Avenue. It was known as the Harriet Tubman Centre. All programs were aimed at Black youth and in particular West Indian immigrant youth.
A Mobile Fitness Centre began operation. The Centre’s staff spoke to over 18,000 Torontonians in less than 3 ½ months in 1973.
The Scarborough YMCA began a one-year contract with the Scarborough Board of Education to direct a lunchtime program in thirty schools.
The Broadview YMCA introduced a new Tap Dancing program for boys and girls and had a “Saturday Sports College” around specific activities such as judo, gymnastics, volleyball, etc., followed by a swim.
1926 - 1950
The Central YMCA Branch offered early morning radiobroadcasts that included physical drills and health talks.
The Danforth branch of the Toronto YMCA having been started and originally financed by the Toronto Rotary Club in 1925 was organized as a branch of the Toronto YMCA in 1928. It used rented quarters until 1949 when the Danforth – East York building was opened at 900 Coxwell Ave in East York.
Camp Norval run by the West End YMCA opened on the upper branch of the Credit River.
The land for the camp was a gift from Morden Neilson, the ice cream and chocolate magnate. He was a long-time member of the West End Y and was President of that Y in 1925 and 1926.
An above ground swimming pool was built as the Credit River was not deep enough or wide enough to swim in.
The property was sold in the late 1980s.
80% of the participants in the programs of the Toronto YMCA were under 21 years of age.
Foster Hewitt broadcast West End YMCA basketball games over the Toronto Daily Star’s radio station CFCA.
The 1931 Annual Report lists the following Toronto YMCA branches: Broadview, Central, Danforth, St Clair, West End, West Toronto, East Toronto Railway YMCA, Mimico Railway YMCA, Christie St. Military Hospital and Summer Camps.
462 boys were taught to swim during the Free Swimming Campaign conducted by the West End YMCA in conjunction with the Daily Star and Evening Telegram.
The Toronto YMCA in consultation and cooperation with the Toronto City Council and the Public Welfare Dept. was involved in programs for the unemployed both in the Hostels operated by the City and in Toronto YMCA centres.
1,275 unemployed members continued in full membership at the Toronto YMCA although unable to pay fees.
223 fatherless boys were given special attention in addition to full membership privileges without charge.
The Toronto YMCA and the Rotary Club of Toronto celebrated ten years of cooperation. The Y also worked with the Kiwanis, Progress, and Lions clubs.
The Toronto YMCA in the Silverthorn neighbourhood, in co-operation with the Rotary Club, served 4,000 boys.
1,375 boys and young men were taught to swim in 1935.
Girls were invited to participate in the Broadview Boys’ Fall Fair for the first time.
A radiobroadcast program on Vocational Guidance had twelve weekly broadcasts over Station CKCL on Thursday evenings. The Board of Education instructed all principals to give notice of the broadcast to their students.
Full membership privileges for the Toronto YMCA were made available without cost to enlisted men at the outbreak of the war. Every month more than 6,000 men used the Toronto YMCA buildings.
Sons of enlisted Canadian soldiers enjoyed stays at a number of Toronto YMCA camps with no cost to the boys or their families.
116 sons attended a special camp at Camp Sunfish where the entire staff volunteered their services.
In cooperation with the West Toronto Kiwanis club, 90 enlisted soldier’s sons went to Westowanis Camp.
The Women’s Auxiliary of the West End Y sent 18 to Camp Norval and 35 to the Indoor Camp at the West End.
As in WWI the Central YMCA opened the Red Triangle Club, a Leave Centre for enlisted men on October 17 at 504 Jarvis St.
At the Annual Meeting of the Toronto YMCA General Secretary Dr. George S. Patterson reported that everyday about 350 soldiers visit the Broadview, Central and West End branches.
The Red Triangle Club in Toronto closed down in May 1946.
The Northwestern Community YMCA was organized and a Board was inaugurated in November at a meeting held in the West End YMCA. The branch came about as an outgrowth of work carried on by the Rotary Club in the Silverthorn area from 1929 to 1942. A building was opened in 1953.
The Lakeshore YMCA community-type branch in New Toronto was organized. Wesley United Church on Station Rd and Mimico Ave. was used as the first headquarters. A Board was approved in 1944.
YMCA work was initiated in East Toronto as a community extension project of the Broadview Branch. It became a self-operated branch under the name Toronto East Community YMCA in 1949 operating out of a portable building on the grounds of Malvern Collegiate.
The High Park YMCA community-type administrative building was opened in December at 2665 Dundas St. West. It acted as a coordinating centre for the activities that the branch organized in public facilities such as the Runnymede Collegiate pool and Swansea Public School. In the 1950s the branch became co-educational and an addition was added in 1958. Since then the building has been used as a teenage drop-in centre, a centre for seniors and then as a YMCA Child Care centre.
A North Toronto YMCA was organized as a community-type branch and an office was opened in a building on the northeast corner of Yonge St. at Broadway Ave. The Toronto YMCA was not new to the neighbourhood, as the Central Branch had already been conducting Neighbourhood Boys’ Clubs in North Toronto.
John Ardagh Scythes, a Board member of the Toronto YMCA, inaugurated the YMCA Sports College of the Air. It was organized to promote a wider interest on the part of Canadian youth in the principles of every sport and was on a coast-to-coast hook-up on Saturdays. Around 300,000 youth eventually joined the College.
Fundraising Campaign: Due to the growth and redistribution of the population of Toronto, a special fundraising campaign was undertaken by the Toronto YMCA and Toronto YWCA to raise $2,121,000.
The objectives of the campaign were to build new community-type branches; build a new YWCA residence; build a 300 room YMCA residence annex of the Central Y; recondition and modernize the Broadview, Central and West End branches and make a $100,000 donation to the World Youth Fund.
The Etobicoke YMCA-YWCA was organized as a community-type branch of the Toronto YMCA. A temporary office was found above a real estate firm on Bloor St.
The Danforth-East York YMCA building, a community YMCA, was opened in October 1949. It was located at 900 Coxwell Ave.
The Toronto YMCA Counselling Service was certified as an approved agency – perhaps the first in Toronto to secure this approval.
The Etobicoke YMCA-YWCA building at 3226 Bloor St West was officially opened in February. In March of 1974 the Toronto YMCA bought the YWCA’s share of the property and the building was sold in 1980.
1900 - 1925
Howard Crocker began work in September as the new Physical Director at the Central YMCA.
Leaders Corps: One of the first things that Howard Crocker did as Physical Director at the Central YMCA was to organize a Leaders Corps, which was to become a model for other YMCAs across Canada.
Annual Dues in 1900
Limited Membership, $2: covering the use of the Reading Room, Parlours, Social Privileges, Debating Society and Chess Club.
Educational Ticket, $3: covering all the above and the Evening School (on payment of class fees).
Full Ticket, $5: covering all of the above and the Gymnasium, Bowling Alley and Baths.
Sustaining Ticket, $10 and over: covering all the above, the use of gymnasium locker, and admission to any of the educational classes (excepting French, German and elocution). This ticket is intended for businessmen and others who desire to help in the financial support of the Association.
In 1901 Howard Crocker conducted the first summer school in physical work in Toronto for 14 YMCA physical directors. Football, lacrosse, basketball and tennis were the leading features of the summer department.
The Broadview Boys’ Fall Fair first opened in 1902 as part of the program offered by the Broadview Boys’ Institute under the direction of C. J. Atkinson. When the Institute amalgamated with the Toronto YMCA in 1910 the fair continued to take place on the Broadview YMCA property until WWII.
Membership Numbers: 2101 members were registered at the Central Association, 860 at the West End Branch, 138 at the East Toronto Railway Branch, and 215 in the City Railroad Branch.
Camp Couchiching on Lake Couchiching, near Orillia opened. It was the first overnight camp organized by the Toronto YMCA.
In 1906 the Grand Trunk Railway moved its rail yards from East Toronto to Mimico and as a result of this the Mimico Railway YMCA was organized close by to look after the railway workers. The Toronto YMCA would continue to run this branch until 1965.
1908 London Olympics:
Ed Archibald, a member of the West End YMCA, was the flag-bearer for the Canadian team at the 1908 Olympics in London. He won a bronze medal in the pole vault.
Howard Crocker, the Physical Director at the Central YMCA was the manager of the Canadian Olympic team.
An Act to Incorporate the Toronto West End YMCA was passed in April 1909 by the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Ontario.
1910 Fundraising Campaign: Under the leadership of George Warburton, the Toronto YMCA undertook a major fundraising campaign and raised $807,023.06 in less than two weeks. As a result of the campaign three new YMCA centres in Toronto were built – the Broadview Y, a new Central Y building and a new West End Y building along with a YWCA building.
The Broadview Boys’ Institute amalgamated with the Toronto YMCA to become the Broadview YMCA. C. J. Atkinson who had founded the Institute remained in charge.
Camp Pine Crest opened as a Toronto YMCA overnight camp on Clear Lake near Torrance. It had roots in the Broadview Boys’ Institute camping tradition going back to 1896.
The first national YMCA swimming instruction program was launched
The laying of the cornerstone of the new Broadview YMCA building by Governor General Earl Grey took place on May 24, 1911.
An Employment Department was organized by the Toronto YMCA in June 1911 to serve young men who were seeking jobs.
By the end of April 1912 of the 1404 men that had registered 555 were assisted to positions.
This department was considered to be a forerunner of the National Employment Service branch of the federal government created in 1918.
The YMCA Automobile School situated at the Broadview YMCA opened on October 9, 1911. It was organized in cooperation with the Ontario Motor League. Practical courses of instruction in automobile construction, operation and care were offered. The school ran until May 1, 1914.
Industrial Work: The West End YMCA began reaching out to young men working in industry in the west end of Toronto in 1911. In 1914, sixteen factories were being served. That increased to one hundred and seventeen factories in 1925. The work included organizing noon hour athletics, Industrial Bowling Leagues where factories competed against each other, educational lectures, health talks and screenings of movies.
As a result of the 1910 fundraising campaign the Toronto YMCA opened two new centres and Prime Minister Borden laid a cornerstone for another:
March 2: The Broadview YMCA building on Broadview Ave. was officially opened.
May 14: The laying of the cornerstone of the new Central YMCA building on College St. by the Rt. Hon. Robert Borden, Prime Minister of Canada took place.
October 1: The second West End YMCA building on College St. by Dovercourt Rd. was officially opened by Sir John Gibson the Lt. Governor of Ontario.
George Goulding, a member of the Toronto Central YMCA branch, won the Gold Medal in the 10 km walk at the Summer Olympics held in Stockholm in July.
The National Council of the Canadian YMCA (YMCA Canada) was organized as the national office of the Canadian YMCA. It replaced various provincial committees and an office was set up in Toronto.
The new Central YMCA building on College St opened.
One of the outstanding features of the West End YMCA was the work of teaching English to New Canadians. 60 classes met weekly in shops, halls and homes with a total enrolment of 1200.
During the winter over 10,000 soldiers made use of the bathing facilities and other privileges of the West End YMCA.
The National Council of the Canadian YMCA (YMCA Canada) invited the Toronto YMCA to undertake work among the soldiers being recruited and trained in Toronto. Much of that work would take place on the Exhibition Grounds.
The first Red Triangle Club in Canada opened in Toronto in April 1917. It was situated on the corner of Queen and Victoria Streets. As well as being an inexpensive hotel it was a convenient place for returned soldiers, convalescing soldiers and those on leave to check belongings when passing through Toronto. The building also contained a writing room, a room for music and billiards, and a cafeteria.
Nearly 800 six-month free memberships were presented to soldiers returning from the World War.
Camp Sunfish opened. It was located on Sunfish Island now called Algonquin Island, one of the Toronto Islands. Initially the camp catered to employed boys. In the 1940s the camp moved to the west side of Lake Simcoe in the Township of Innisfil and remained there until 1955 when the property was sold due to the encroachment of cottages.
The Boys’ Dept. of the West End YMCA had a record membership of over 3,000 the largest boys’ membership of any Association in the world.
Camp CENYMCA, short for Central YMCA opened on Wards Island, one of the Toronto Islands.
The Christie St. Military Hospital Program for returning soldiers who needed to be looked after when WWI ended was taken over by the Toronto YMCA from the National Council of the Canadian YMCA. The Toronto YMCA continued to organize programs for the ex-service men until the early 1930s when the program came to an end. In 1929 there were still between 300 and 350 veterans being looked after.
The Toronto YMCA and the Toronto West End YMCA decided to join together again having agreed to separate in 1908. An Act to Incorporate the Toronto Young Men’s Christian Association was passed by the Ontario Legislature in March 1923.
The West Toronto Community YMCA was organized as a result of collaboration with the West Toronto Kiwanis Club. As it was a community branch the secretary in charge was to organize activities, mainly for boys, in locations such as local school gymnasiums or school classrooms and city parks where softball and rugby games could take place.
A city wide campaign for the teaching of swimming was directed by George Corsan Sr. J. E. Atkinson publisher of the Toronto Star assumed the financial responsibility for the campaign.
1800 - 1899
On June 6, 1844, the YMCA was founded in London, England by a group of young men led by George Williams, as an alternative to the unhealthy social conditions during the Industrial Revolution.
Before the invention of the light bulb or telephone, even before Confederation the first YMCA in North America opened in Montreal, Quebec on November 25, 1851. At first YMCAs had strong links to the Protestant churches but this quickly changed, as people from all churches were welcomed. Today, the YMCA welcomes all people regardless of religion, age, background or ability.
John Holland organized a Toronto YMCA in December at his house on King Street. A Constitution and By-Laws were adopted on December 20, 1853, and meetings were thereafter held in the Toronto Mechanics’ Institute.
January 9 1855: The Constitution and By-Laws of the Toronto YMCA were revised.
April 1855: The Toronto YMCA withdrew from the North American YMCA Confederation in protest over the fact that a clear position against slavery was not taken.
The Toronto YMCA was reorganized as a non-denominational YMCA. Robert Baldwin became the first President (Board Chair) of the reorganized Toronto YMCA in February 1864. Born in Toronto, he was the son of the Hon. Robert Baldwin who was one of the fathers of responsible government in Canada.
An Act to Incorporate the Toronto YMCA was assented to on March 4,1868, by the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.
Shaftesbury Hall, the first purpose-built centre owned by the Toronto YMCA was officially opened on February 10, 1873. It was located on Queen St. West by James St., near Yonge St. It contained two halls that could be rented out, a gymnasium/ exercise room and offices. It also had a number of classrooms and a library.
YWCA: On February 20, the YWCA of Toronto held its first meeting at Shaftesbury Hall.
University of Toronto YMCAs: The first YMCA Association at the University of Toronto at University College was officially recognized having been organized in 1871.
Railway Workers: The Toronto YMCA began outreach work with railway workers in 1876 through meetings held in places such as Union Station. Railway YMCA branches were soon established where the buildings were provided and owned by the railway companies and the programs were organized by the Toronto YMCA. These programs broadened in scope once branch buildings were established.
Prof. J. Douglas Andrews was hired as an instructor in the Gymnasium to help young men “develop the physical man.” As a result about 200 young men joined the association.
A class begun at Shaftesbury Hall for the benefit of the small Chinese community in Toronto. They attended classes to learn how to read and write in English.
The West End YMCA was organized under the name the Railway and West End YMCA. Rooms were rented at 1020 Queen Street West.
The Toronto YMCA Board closed the gymnasium in Shaftesbury Hall. In an announcement in the
Shaftesbury Hall Bulletin
, it was reported, “Our Gymnasium has not proved to be all that had been hoped for”... The room was then leased to the Toronto Coffee House Association. About five years later a well-equipped gymnasium was to open in the Toronto YMCA building that replaced Shaftesbury Hall.
April 22, 1883: The official opening of the Railway and West End YMCA was held.
Shaftesbury Hall was sold as it had become too small to accommodate all the members and programs.
The University of Toronto student YMCA opened a building on campus near the northwest corner of College St. and University Ave.
To replace Shaftesbury Hall a much larger building was built at the corner of Yonge and McGill Streets. It was dedicated on November 3, 1887, and soon came to be known as the Central YMCA with a large auditorium referred to as Association Hall that was rented out when not in use by the Y. The building also contained the first indoor YMCA pool in Canada. The gymnasium was considered to be one of the finest in North America.
A North West branch was organized in March. It was located at 484 Spadina Ave. In April 1893 the Board decided to sell the property.
The East Toronto Railway branch opened a building near York Railway Station at Main St and Danforth Ave. It remained a Railway YMCA branch until 1909 when the Grand Trunk Railway decided to move the rail yards west to Mimico.
The Spirit-Mind-Body Red Triangle logo associated with the YMCA was developed and introduced by Luther Gullick, a teacher at the YMCA Training School in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Basketball was introduced to Toronto in 1892 a few months after being invented by Canadian born James Naismith at the YMCA Training School in Springfield Massachusetts in December 1891.
The first game in Toronto was played in the gymnasium of the Central YMCA building on Yonge St. in 1892.
The first reference to basketball in Toronto was recorded in the Central YMCA Gymnasium Committee Minutes and the Toronto YMCA Board Minutes when an appropriation of $25 was asked for to cover the windows of the gym with wire netting, “in view of the introduction of basket ball.”
Fencing was introduced to the Central Y gymnasium and proved to be a popular sport. The Central YMCA team won the Team Championship of Canada in 1911.
The Association Evening College was launched by the Toronto YMCA for the benefit of young men who were eager to attend classes but were busy during the day. Classes included penmanship; bookkeeping; business arithmetic; electricity (with practical bench work); mechanical drawing; freehand drawing; light carpentering; vocal music; Canadian Constitution; English literature; and English composition.
The Toronto YMCA Physical Department Committee reported about one hundred medical examinations were made and city physicians at the Central YMCA gave four medical talks to members during the year.
The City Railway YMCA branch opened in a building located at the foot of Spadina Ave. that was fitted out by the Grand Trunk Railway. It contained a restaurant, a dormitory and a small gym. The branch remained in operation until the fall of 1909.
The game of handball was added to the attractions at the Central YMCA.
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