A tradition of serving the community
The YMCA movement was founded in 1844, by George Williams in London, England to assist young workers during the Industrial Revolution.
Since the YMCA of Greater Montreal was established in 1851 (the first in North America), it has been a leader in innovative community action.
The YMCA of Greater Montreal opened the first public library in Montreal.
James Naismith, a young YMCA instructor, invents basketball.
Pollution was already a problem in the city. The YMCA opened the first summer camp outside the city so children could enjoy open-air activities.
Education was still reserved for the elite. The YMCA began offering adult night courses for working people. This led to the creation of Sir George Williams University, which later merged with Loyola College to become Concordia University.
During the Great Depression, the YMCA started up 4,017 community gardens in Pointe-Saint-Charles and Verdun.
When World War II broke out, the YMCA mustered human and material resources to assist war victims.
Drug abuse became a problem. The YMCA was the first organization to take care of young drug addicts.
The YMCA opened daycare centres, along with preschool and after-school programs to respond to the evolving needs of families with working parents.
Unemployment rose, and the YMCA created programs to foster employability and opened youth centres.
Youth issues became a primary concern. The focus was placed on the quality of services, including the renovation of centres, the national serving annual members (S.A.M.) program, harmonization of communications materials, etc.
2000 and beyond
Following a $20 million revitalization campaign, the YMCA renovated its downtown facilities and strengthened its financial position. Backed by these revitalized forces, the YMCA undertook to consolidate its human and material resources in order to reach more people.
In 2007, Camp Y Kanawana went “green” and improved its facilities and programming. Kanawana advocates the principles of sustainable development and respect for nature. Also in 2007, thanks to the strong commitment of volunteers in Québec, the Y returned to Québec City with the creation of community programs and the management of a day camp.
In 2008, construction of a new centre began. The Cartierville Y centre, located in the borough of Ahuntsic-Cartierville in Montreal, is the first new centre to be built in the last 20 years. This revitalization and the desire to serve more people in more communities inspired the YMCA of Greater Montreal, in January 2009, to become The YMCAs of Québec.