Y Winnipeg Becomes Incorporated

On May 16, 1879, Y Winnipeg became incorporated. It opened as a reading room and meeting room at the corner of Main Street and McDermot Avenue.

Y Winnipeg's First Staff Member

On June 15, 1880 the first full-time staff member, C.M. Copeland, became employed by Y Winnipeg, earning a “minimum” salary of $800 per year. Copland was the first General Secretary of the Winnipeg YMCA and an island at Camp Stephens was later named for him.

Camp Stephens

Camp Stephens becomes the first Y-owned camp in 1891, with the initial camp being held on Keewatin Beach in Lake of the Woods.

The Invention of Basketball

On December 21, 1891, the first game of basketball is played by 18 students, using two peach baskets as nets. The sport itself was invented by Canadian James Naismith while working at the YMCA International Training School.

Camp Stephens Finds a Permanent Home

A permanent overnight camp location is found, and this cluster of five islands is the current location of Camp Stephens in Lake of the Woods.

Y Winnipeg's First Permanent Home

Our first permanent Winnipeg location opened on January 18, 1901 at the corner of Portage Avenue and Smith Street. It featured a library, bowling alleys and Winnipeg’s first indoor swimming pool!

Father's Day Started with the Y

Father’s Day was dreamed up by Sonora Louise Smart Dodd in Spokane, Washington. She wanted to honour her father, a Civil War veteran who had raised her and her five siblings alone. Presenting her idea at a meeting in June 1910, Sonora petitioned the Spokane Ministerial Alliance and the Spokane YMCA to recognize and celebrate Father’s Day. They enthusiastically endorsed the idea, hosting the first Father’s Day celebration on June 19, 1910.

Opening the Downtown Branch

On May 4, 1913, the Vaughan Street location, now known as the Downtown branch, opened. It served as the unofficial headquarters for army men when the First World War began.

The Poppy and Its Ties to the Y

Moina Michael, an American teacher working for the YMCA Overseas War Secretaries organization in New York City, is recognized as the first person to wear a poppy to commemorate Remembrance Day. After reading John McCrae’s poem “In Flanders Fields”, she immediately “pledged to keep the faith and always to wear a red poppy of Flanders Fields as a sign of remembrance and the emblem of ‘keeping the faith with all who died.’” It remains a lasting symbol of remembrance in Canada.

Leaders in Aquatics

In 1931, the YMCA developed a national aquatic program, making it the first in Canada. That means we have been leaders in the field for more than 90 years!

Serving the Community's Child Care Needs

In 1973 Y Winnipeg had five licensed nursery school programs in branches around the city. Our first licensed child care program, Creative Play, still operates out of the Downtown branch today. With more than 35 child care centres in and around Winnipeg, we are Manitoba’s largest child care provider.

Honouring Women

To honour the talent, achievement, imagination and innovation of Manitoba women, the Women of Distinction Awards are launched in 1976.

Supporting Mental Health

At the Y, we believe that health encompasses your whole being – spirit, mind and body. We’ve been offering mental health programming and services since 1982 in hopes of helping people cope with their mental health challenges.

When Two Became One

In 1987 the YMCA of Winnipeg and the YWCA of Winnipeg merged to become the YMCA-YWCA of Winnipeg.

Helping Entrepreneurs Live Their Dream

To help individuals start and grow their own business, we began offering the Self-Employment Program in 1987. Since then we have helped hundreds of people turn their dreams into reality.

Combating Social Isolation

Social isolation can take a serious toll on one’s health. That’s why, in 1996, we launched the Adult Day Program out of our South branch. Older adults come together to enjoy social games and activities, outing to local attractions and enjoy meals together.

Empowering Girls

In 2005 we began offering a one-day empowerment conference, Power of Being a Girl. Each year the conference tackles issues such as self-esteem, discrimination and healthy relationships.

Welcoming Newcomers

To ease the transition for newcomers, we began offering English-language courses out of our Downtown branch in 2007. We continue to help hundreds of individuals each year.

Supporting Families

In 2010 we started the After School Program for Youth with Additional Support Needs. The program offers a safe, nurturing space to youth aged 13-21 years-old whose parents require after school supports for employment needs.

Leaders in Child Care

In 2016, we launched the YMCA A Place to Connect™, a program making the YMCA the first organization in Canada to have a curriculum for school age programs. The YMCA Playing to Learn™ curriculum has prepared children ages 0-6 for school and life-long achievement since it's initial development in 2007.

Supporting Youth

To provide mental health and wellness supports, along with recreation opportunities for youth, the Youth Wellness Program launched out of the Downtown branch in 2017. The program has since expanded to include our Elmwood-Kildonan branch.

Growing Leaders of Tomorrow

Through a partnership with Canada Service Corps, the YMCA Community Action Network, or YCAN, launches at various Ys across the country, including in Winnipeg. The program aims to support selected individuals between the ages of 15 and 30 to get involved in their local community through service opportunities.

Celebrating 145 Years and Counting

May 16, 2024, marks our 145th birthday! The Y celebrates our history in the community as we continue to adapt to the changing needs of our community.