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 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!
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.
Serving the Community's Child Care Needs
In 1983 we opened our first licensed child care program, Creative Play, which 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 140 Years and Counting
May 16, 2019, marked our 140th birthday! The Y celebrates our history in the community as we continue to adapt to the changing needs of our community.