Youth Groups: Canadian Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA)

Figure 1.--This is a YMCA swimming competition held in Toronto on August 26,1915. Some of the older boys are wearing swimming suits. The younger boys are covering themselves with towels because they swam nude without any suits. That was common at the time in YMCA pools.

After the YMCA was founded in in England (1844), the idea quickly spread to other countries. The first Y in North America was founded in Montreal (1851). Unlike London, Montreal was a largely French city and strongly Catholic. This tested the ecumenical spirit of the Y which when founded in London was largely Protestant in the early years. And for many years there were problems with the suspicious Catholic hierary. The Montreal Y and others in Canada welcomed Christians of all denominations. Gradually developed roots with Catholic as well as Protestant churches. The Y established Canadian YMCA War Services (1866). They offered recreation, religious and entertainment programs, and for offering moral support to Canadian soldiers. They became know for providing hot tea, equipment, biscuits and more to Canadian soldiers. They would play an important role in assisting Canadian soldiers in the wars of the 20th century in which Canada played an important part. The Y developed summer camps like the Ys in America. This program was less important in the English YMCAs. As the Canadian Ys became increasingly established, like the Ys in America, Canadian Ys began adding swimming pools and developed an aquatic program. Education was anotyher important aspect of the Y program. The Montreal and at Toronto YMCAs began offering night classes at its facilities for both citizens and immigrants


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Created: November 15, 1998
Last updated: 8:10 PM 9/24/2010