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YMCA of Montreal

  • YMCA1
  • Corporate body
  • 1851-

The first YMCA-the Young Men's Christian Association-was founded in London, England in 1844 by George Williams, age 23. It was a religious (Evangelical Protestant) movement for young men who had left their families and migrated from outlying areas to jobs in London. Its goal was their character development. It provided fellowship and opportunities for constructive use of leisure time.

At the world's fair that took place in London in 1851, YMCA pamphlets were distributed to visitors from all over the world, including a number of Montrealers who judged that it would fulfill a need in their city.

An inaugural meeting of the Montreal YMCA took place at St. Helen Street Baptist Church in November 1851. The Montreal YMCA can claim to be the first in North America, although YMCAs started up in Boston, New York, Toronto, and other North American cities about the same time.

The North American YMCAs formed a confederation in 1854. The World Alliance of YMCAs was formed in 1855.

In 1853, the Montreal YMCA hired its first paid employee, Samuel Massey. He worked as a missionary to young men in Montreal. As an adjunct to its religious mission, in the 1850s the Montreal YMCA created a social centre in rented quarters where young men could gather. It included a library and reading room. The Y began offering lectures, an employment service, and charitable relief to the indigent.

The first Montreal YMCA building was erected in 1873 on Victoria Square.

That year, the first evening educational courses were held, in French and shorthand. Services were added for younger boys and immigrants. Sports were added in the late 1880s. War work-services to military personnel-was first undertaken during the Boer War. Foreign service-outreach to other countries-became important early in the twentieth century.

Expansion was rapid, and in 1892 the Montreal YMCA created new quarters on Dominion Square, where the Sun Life building now stands. In the Dominion Square Y building there were meeting rooms, a reading room and a library, club and class rooms, an auditorium, a gymnasium, locker and shower rooms, a swimming pool, a bowling alley, and a dining room.

In 1894, a boys' summer camp was opened in the Laurentians north of Montreal. Outdoor programs have been part of the Association's programming ever since.

In 1912, the Central/Downtown Branch of the Montreal Association moved to new quarters on Drummond Street. That year, the Association opened the Westmount Branch and the North Branch (now YMCA du Parc). Other branches and various satellite units have existed at various times throughout the Metropolitan Montreal region.

In 1931 the Downtown Branch was remodeled and a 500-room residential annex was added to provide low-cost accommodation and meals for men. The residence would later serve as accommodation for refugees. (In 2001 as part of a major renovation of the YMCA Centre-ville, the downtown residence was demolished. The Y opened refugee accommodation in the former Reddy Memorial Hospital on Tupper Street.)

The Montreal YMCA has offered many programs, including physical and aquatics programs and social programs. The educational programs grew to become one of Concordia University founding institutions, Sir George Williams College/University. In the 1970s a shift in government policy in Quebec meant increased emphasis on community recreational programs, and the YMCA provided input and management services for these programs. Community development programs, including immigrant, crime prevention, and offender rehabilitation programs, were added.

At the beginning of the twenty-first century, the Metropolitan Montreal Association included the YMCA Centre-ville, the du Parc YMCA, the Guy-Favreau YMCA, the Hochelaga-Maisonneuve YMCA, the Notre-Dame-de-Grâce YMCA, the Pointe Saint-Charles YMCA, the Saint-Laurent YMCA, the West Island YMCA, the Westmount YMCA, Kamp Kanawana, the YMCA residence for refugee claimants, and the YMCA International Language school and the YMCA Foundation and Metropolitan services offices which were located in the same building as the YMCA Centre-ville.

Véhicule Press

  • VP1
  • Corporate body
  • 1973-

Véhicule Press began in 1973 on the premises of Véhicule Art Inc. (Montreal), one of Canada's first artist-run galleries. The large space occupied by both the gallery and the press at 61 St. Catherine St. West was once the Café Montmarte, the renowned jazz club of the 1930s.

Guy Lavoie, Annie Nayer, Marshalore, and Vivian Jemelka-White established Véhicule Press. For printing purposes, they began using equipment inherited from Kenny Hertz's defunct Ingluvin Publications and an ATF Chief 20 printing press originally purchased by artist Tom Dean to print Beaux-Arts magazine. In 1973, Véhicule Press submitted their first Local Initiatives Project (LIP) grant.

In 1975 the press became Coopérative d'Imprimerie Véhicule - Quebec's only cooperatively-owned printing and publishing company. Coopérative d'Imprimerie Véhicule was officially incorporated in 1976. Members of the coop included Guy Lavoie, Simon Dardick, Marshalore, Léo Vanasse, Vivian White, and Willy Wood. Véhicule Press was the publishing imprint of the coop. In the same year, an editorial board was formed to allow the Press to apply for Canada Council grants. The editorial board was composed of poets Andre Farkas, Artie Gold, and Ken Norris. Véhicule Press was accepted into the lock Grant Programme of the Canada Council in 1979. The editorial board was dissolved int eh same year.

In late spring 1977, Véhicule Press moved to 1000 Clark St. in the heart of Chinatown, and in 1980 it moved to an industrial space located on Ontario St. East. In spring 1981, the coop was dissolved and Simon Dardick (who had joined the press in the summer of 1973) and Nancy Marrelli continued Véhicule Press from Roy St. East in the Plateau area of Montreal.

Véhicule Press publishes poetry, fiction, essays, translations, and social history. Simon Dardick and Nancy Marrelli are the publishers and general editors of Véhicule Press; Patrick Goddard is Administrative Assistant; and Maya Assouad is Marketing and Promotions Manager.

Poet Michael Harris was the founding editor of the Véhicule Press Signal Poetry Series, established in 1981. The collaboration has resulted in over 50 books by 35 authors. Additionally, Michael Harris was the editor of The Signal Anthology: Contemporary Canadian Poetry (Signal, 1993). Poet, critic, and essayist Carmine Starnino became the editor of Signal Editions in January 200. 123 titles have been published in the Signal Poetry Series since 1981.Carmine Starnino is the editor of The New Canon: An Anthology of Canadian Poetry (Signal, 2005).

Author Andrew Steinmetz is the founding editor of Véhicule's fiction imprint, Esplanade Books, established in 2003. Steinmetz was succeeded by author Dimitri Nasrallah, who has worked as the editor of the series since 2013.

Author Brian Busby is the editor of Ricochet Books, a series consisting of vintage noir mysteries, many of them set in Montreal.

Author Derek Webster became a Senior Editor of the press in 2018.

Covers for Signal and Esplanade Books are designed by David Drummond of Salamander Hill Design. John W. Stewart began designing covers for the press in the 1970s. At present, Stewart designs the Véhicule catalogue cover and occasional non-fiction.

Véhicule Art Research Group

  • VARG1
  • Corporate body
  • 1991-199-?

The objective of the Véhicule Art Research Group, created in 1991, is the documentation and analysis of avant-garde art in Montreal during the 1970s, through the examination and interpretation of the activities of the artists' cooperative, Véhicule Art (Montréal) Inc. within the period 1972-1983. Véhicule Art (Montréal) Inc. was the first and most important alternate art gallery, resource centre, and educational agency for the expression of experimental art in Montreal.

The Investigation of the Activities of Véhicule Art (Montréal) Inc., 1972-1983 project began with the analysis and evaluation of the Véhicule Art (Montréal) Inc. fonds (P0027) held by the Concordia University Archives. This was followed by the identification and collection of missing primary and secondary documentation. To gather information not available in printed form, oral history interviews were also conducted with artists who exhibited or performed at the gallery.

During the next few years, the full body of documentation will be interpreted through various art historical methodologies. The results of the research will be disseminated through publications, exhibitions, seminars, and graduate and undergraduate courses.

The Véhicule Art Research Group is composed of Sandra Paikowsky (Concordia University associate professor), Brian Foss (Concordia University associate professor), and Nancy Marrelli (director of Concordia University Archives).

Véhicule Art Inc.

  • VA1
  • Corporate body
  • 1972-1983

Véhicule Art Inc. was legally founded in March 1972 and the gallery opened at 61 Ste.Catherine St. West in the central core of Montréal on October 13, 1972. The first alternate space in the city, it was the creation of thirteen founding members who wanted a "non-profit, non-political centre directed by and for artists." The gallery was intended "to provide a space for the community in which to encounter art and art ideas through as many forms as these processes involve." This would hopefully, "rejuvenate public interest in the visual arts in Montréal, stimulating public consciousness and developing its interest."

Véhicule was conceived as both an exhibition space for visual artists and a locale for performance, video, film, dance, music, and poetry readings. As well, the founders stressed its essential role as an education and information centre with discussion groups, guest lectures, resource and documentation libraries as well as a liaison programme with public schools and universities within the city. Such aims were intended "to fill a gap in the community."

With some financial support from federal granting agencies, Véhicule embarked on its highly ambitious gallery programming and public information activities. The establishment of a press in 1973, at the back of the gallery, led to the production of artists' books, exhibition catalogues, newsletters, posters and poetry publications. Such Véhicule Press works reflected the multi-disciplinary atmosphere of Véhicule as various members of the group collaborated on specific projects. In addition, a slide bank and video collection were begun, adding to its informational resources.

In the early years, Véhicule's primary preoccupation was to bring to public attention the work of experimental local artists and in particular, their involvement with international trends. The opening exhibition of thirty-two works by twenty Montréal artists, chosen by nine Véhicule members, exemplified not only the concern for the new in the city but the spirit of a collectivity through the jury system. Although only four women artists participated in this show, two months later an exhibition of artwork by thirty-five young Montréal women was presented.

While Véhicule stated it espoused no single ideology, its orientation toward experimental aesthetic attitudes explains its strong support of anti-object art, with its particular emphasis on installation, performance and multi-media projects. During 1972 and 1973, about sixty events and exhibitions were presented, with three hundred participants, almost all from Montréal. A year later, approximately one half of the artists and performers were from outside of the local community. This shift reflected Véhicule's growing concern for becoming a vital part of a larger art milieu. The number of exhibitions and events remained quite constant through the 1970's, reaffirming the energy and ambition of its programming.

By 1975, Véhicule had gained official recognition by the inclusion of its members in two exhibitions organized by Montréal's Musée d'art contemporain. Public galleries outside Montréal also showed the works of Véhicule artists. Véhicule Press had expanded to form a cooperative printing company. The membership more than doubled and the gallery became involved in important exchanges with other alternative art centres in Canada, the United States, and Europe. Its programme of school visits, exhibitions of art students' work from local art schools and universities, as well as public events like the Kite Show (1973) and projects for the 1976 Olympics suggest Véhicule's determination to become an integral part of Montréal's cultural community.

As the membership expanded and the various disciplines represented at Véhicule became more consolidated, individual directions emerged. Véhicule Press developed a more extensive and ambitious publishing programme and became autonomous in 1977 when it moved to Chinatown. Dance and poetry readings increasingly became an essential part of Véhicule's activities. Gallery events and exhibitions were consistently reviewed in local newspapers and its public profile flourished. Video Véhicule, begun in 1976, established the gallery's importance as one of Canada's most active centres for the medium. During the late years of the 1970's video events dominated the gallery's programming and the large proportion of international artists at Véhicule attested to its solid reputation.

Despite these accomplishments, internal conflicts arose concerning the direction of Véhicule's programming and its administration. There was also increased polarization between the various disciplines involved with Véhicule. The original premise of a cohesive artists' collective had dramatically changed. In the summer of 1979, Véhicule moved to a larger space at 307 Ste. Catherine St. West and renamed Le Musée d'art vivant Véhicule.

During the final years, administrative and programming problems continued to plague the group. Memberships fell dramatically but became more restrictive. The separation of Video Véhicule (renamed Prime Video) from the umbrella organization was an example of the fallout from internal discord and conflicting ideologies within the cooperative. The art community which had supported Véhicule for almost a decade now believed that the alternate centre was neither responding to nor reflecting the needs of Montréal artists. That there were three generations of Véhicule artists in one decade demonstrates the shifts in the gallery's orientation and focus. As had happened often in the history of Montréal's art community, a coalition such as Véhicule eventually outlived its original mandate and purpose. As well, the city itself had become more responsive to new tendencies in art. Despite various stop-gap measures to renew interest in Véhicule, the last events took place in June 1982 and it was quietly disbanded in 1983. An era in Montréal's cultural history was over.

Thomas More Institute

  • TMI1
  • Corporate body
  • 1946-

Montreal's Thomas More Institute was founded in 1946, with 90 students enrolled in six courses. Its aim is to provide opportunities for lifelong learning and liberal education for adults. More than 350 of its students have earned the degree of Bachelor of Arts: 271 from 1948 to 1974 within the context of an association with the Université de Montréal, and 95 since 1975 by virtue of an affiliation with Bishop's University.

Eric O'Connor, S.J., a teacher at Concordia University founding institution Loyola College from 1934-1936 and 1942-1980, was one of the founders of the Thomas More Institute.

The Institute is named after Thomas More (1478-1535), one of the great humanist scholars of the Renaissance. He contributed significantly to that critical shift from the medieval to the modern world by articulating and promoting, for men and women alike, a new concept of education based upon the priority of open inquiry and critical thought. In his view, learning occurs as individuals relate the formulations of the past to questions that point toward the future. The Thomas More Institute reflects this philosophy of education with a strong emphasis on lifelong adult learning.

Source: Thomas More Institute Web site (

The Link

  • TL1
  • Corporate body
  • 1980-

The Link is a Concordia University student newspaper. It was established in 1980 with the merger of the Loyola News and The Georgian. Loyola College had merged with Sir George Williams University in 1974 to form Concordia University. As the result of a referendum in March 1986, The Link became autonomous from the Concordia University Students' Association (CUSA); students agreed to pay a direct fee to finance the operations of the two existing student newspapers, The Link and Concordian.

St. Patrick's Society of Montreal

  • SPSM1
  • Corporate body
  • March 17, 1834-

St. Patrick's Society of Montreal was founded on March 17, 1834 to care for Irish immigrants and to defend the local Irish-Canadian community's interests. The first president was John Donnellan. The creation of the Society in Montreal was followed by the Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste (June 1834), the St. Andrew’s Society (February 1835), the St. George’s Society (April 1835) and the German Society (April 1835). The St.Patrick’s Society was non-sectarian until 1856 when a new constitution was adopted and it became wholly Catholic while the Protestant members formed the Irish Protestant Benevolent Society. The Society was incorporated in 1863. The constitution was changed in 1973 to accept women as members of the Society. The St. Patrick's Society is a charitable, social, and educational organization. It has the following specific aims: to promote and foster Irish tradition; to aid whenever possible persons of Irish birth or origin, and particularly, Irish immigrants; and to speak, when necessary, on behalf of the Irish Canadian community.

The Society was based at different locations until 1867 when it moved to the newly completed St. Patrick's Hall on Square Victoria. In September of 1872 a fire destroyed the Hall. The Society is now based out of St. Patrick Square at 6767 Cote St. Luc Road.

The Society had a prominent role in the building of St. Patrick's Church, which opened in 1847, and in the creation of the Côte-des-Neiges Cemetery, which opened in 1885. The Society promoted the creation of St. Mary's Hospital, St. Patrick's Orphanage, English Catholic Charities, St. Patrick Square, and the Father Dowd Home for the Elderly. For the Society, the annual ball and luncheon held in March are social and fundraising events. The proceeds are donated to local Irish charities and used for scholarships and grants. The Society also organized the St. Patrick's Day Parade from 1834-1916. In 1928 a group known as the United Irish Societies of Montreal was formed and it now sponsors the city's annual St. Patrick's Parade.

Since 1988 the Society has published NUACHT (news), a quarterly newsletter that updates readers on the local Irish community and news from Ireland.

St. Patrick’s Total Abstinence and Benevolent Society

  • Corporate body
  • February 23, 1840-[18--?]

Founded in Montreal on February 23, 1840 by Father Patrick Phelan, the Saint Patrick's Total Abstinence and Benevolent Society claimed to be the first Roman Catholic temperance society in North America. Members pledged to abstain from intoxicating drinks, registered by name, and paid monthly dues. Within one year the Society had 3,000 pledged members. After one year, members were entitled to the Society's death benefits plan which gave money to the family of the deceased, usually the widow. If there was no family, the Society would organize and pay for the burial.

St. Ann's Young Men's Society

  • SAYMA1
  • Corporate body
  • 1885-[19--?]

The St. Ann's Young Men's Society was founded in Griffintown in 1885. The Society was located on Ottawa Street and contained a library, gymnasium, and concert hall, and had programs in theater, athletics, and debating. The St. Ann's Young Men's Society participated in the annual St. Patrick's Day Parade.

Sir George Williams University. Office of the Treasurer

  • Corporate body
  • 1966 - 1974

Until the mid-1960s, the accounting and financial aspects of the Sir George Williams University affairs were mainly handled by the YMCA of Montreal. Because of the increasing size and complexity of the University’s finances, and the requirements of the Quebec Ministère de l’Éducation for more detailed data, steps were taken in 1966 by the University to establish an Office of the Treasurer to take over these functions. In January 1967, William McIntosh Reay became the first University Treasurer, thus relieving Henry G. Worrell, Controller of the University, from some of the many heavy responsibilities that had gradually accrued to his office (the function of Controller was actually abolished in 1971). The University set up its own accounting system from June 1, 1967 and the fiscal year 1967-1968, was the first for which complete separate University financial statements were prepared. During that period the University substantially used the services of the Computer Centre in the areas of payroll, accounts payable and financial statements.

Sir George Williams University. Office of the Principal

  • Corporate body
  • 1925 - 1974

The Office of the Principal of Sir George Williams University has its origins in the reorganization of the educational program of the Montreal Young Men's Christian Association (Y.M.C.A.) in the 1920s, culminating in the establishment of a separate branch called the Montreal Y.M.C.A. Schools in 1925. The schools thus became a separate unit in the Montreal Metropolitan Y.M.C.A. organization, under the direction of its own Board of Management (which became the Board of Governors in 1937) and its own executive head, the Principal. In 1926, the Montreal Y.M.C.A.Schools became a coeducational institution and changed its name to Sir George Williams College. The Principal was appointed by the Montreal Y.M.C.A. Metropolitan Board on the advice of the Sir George Williams College Board of Management. A. W. Young was the first Principal; his term of office was 1925-1928. In 1948, Sir George Williams College obtained a university charter. That year a special by-law (art. VII, sect. 11) of the Corporation of Sir George Williams College defined the duties of the Principal as follows:

"The Principal of the College, under the direction of the Board of Governors, shall have charge and general control of the work of the College, and shall attend meetings of the Board of Governors and of Committees of the Board. He shall certify all contracts and all bills for payment. He shall define the duties of all employees of the College, who shall report to him as the Executive Officer of the Board in such manner as he may direct."

In 1959, the College requested that the Quebec Legislature amend its charter, changing its name to Sir George Williams University. In 1974, the University merged with Loyola College to create Concordia University. The Office of the Principal of Sir George Williams University thereafter became the Office of the Rector of Concordia University.

The Office of the Principal of Sir George Williams College and later, University, played a significant leadership role in the development of the institution. The Office of the Principal was occupied not only with day-to-day affairs, but also provided vision and guidance for the development of the fledgling institution. Sir George Williams began as a small institution with an unrecognized program, growing dramatically in the period after World War II and again in the 1960s, when there was a dramatic increase in demand for higher education.

The Principals of Sir George Williams College and University were:

Anson W. Young 1925-1928
Frederick O. Stredder 1928-1935
Kenneth E. Norris 1936-1956
Henry F. Hall 1956-1962
Robert C. Rae 1962-1968
Douglass B. Clarke 1968-1969
John W. O'Brien 1969-1974. (O'Brien became Rector of Concordia University in 1974.)

Sir George Williams University. Faculty Club

  • Corporate body
  • 1960-1988

The first meeting of what would become the Sir George Williams University Faculty Club took place on September 24, 1960. A private non-profit cooperative organization, it offered dining and bar facilities and aimed to facilitate social exchange among members of the University. Club membership was open to faculty and senior administrative staff. First located in the Norris Building, the Faculty Club moved to the 7th floor of the Henry F. Hall Building after it opened in 1966. It continued to operate under the name Sir George Williams Faculty Club after S.G.W. Merged with Loyola College to form Concordia University in 1974.

Sir George Williams University. Department of Physical Education

  • Corporate body
  • ca 1970 - 1975

In the 1941-1942 calendar, Sir George Williams College is offering for the first time, a Student Health Programme, which is described as an active programme of student athletics and health education. In the 1950s, the Athletic Council of Sir George Williams College was established. Under the authority of the Board of Governors and Faculty Council, its purpose was to act as the governing body for all intercollegiate and intramural sports and athletics. In the 1957-1958 calendar, the programme is extended to Sports and Athletics with varsity and intramural components. In the 1970s, the unit was referred to as the Department of Physical Education. The programme included intercollegiate sports, intramural and recreational activities, a cheerleading team, a booster club, etc.

Throughout the years, the teams wearing the colors of SGW were named The Georgians. Over the years, the Department produced different publications: the Athletic Handbook and The Georgians in the 1950s and 1960s, and the Georgian Athletics and Georgian Sports Review in the 1970s.

Sir George Williams did not have sports facilities and had to use other institutions’. Sir George Williams College stemmed from the YMCA educational program and kept its tie to the Y until the early 1970s. Because of this, the facilities, including the gym and swimming pool, of the Downtown YMCA, were used until the 1970s.

Sir George Williams University merged with Loyola College in 1974 to create Concordia University. Following the recommendations of a committee to evaluate the Student Services area, the Board of Governors, at its meeting of June 12, 1975, merged the Sir George Williams Department of Physical Education and the Loyola College Department of Athletics into a single unit. The director of the Sir George Williams Department of Physical Education, George Short, became assistant athletic director.

Sir George Williams University. Day Students' Association

  • Corporate body
  • 1936-1979

The Students' Undergraduate Society of Sir George Williams (SUS) was created in 1936. On January 25, 1966, the Association proposed a new constitution in which it changed its name to Students' Association of Sir George Williams University (SA). In April 1966, the University Board of Governors approved this constitution and a new executive was formed. In October 1971, the Students' Association was put under trusteeship by the University Board of Governors after a series of management difficulties. At the end of November 1971, the Board of Trustees organized a referendum to decide about the future of the association. The majority of students voted for a continuation of the Students’ Association. In March 1972, the Board of Trustees presented a new constitution which was ratified by referendum. On April 13, 1972, the Board of Governors approved the new constitution, but changed the name of the association for “Day Students’ Association of Sir George Williams University” (DSA). Loyola College and Sir George Williams University merge together in 1974 to form Concordia University. The Day Students’ Association continued operation until the creation of the Concordia University Student Association (CUSA), which took over the activities of all the day and evening student associations of Sir George and Loyola in 1979.

Sir George Williams University. Contingent of the COTC

  • Corporate body
  • 1950-1968

The Sir George Williams University Contingent of the Canadian Officers Training Corps was organized in 1950 at the request of University principal Kenneth E. Norris. The COTC was a subdivision of the University Reserves Program, subsidized and commissioned by the Department of National Defence. The objective was to introduce students to service life. The COTC offered training opportunities to those who wished to pursue a service career. Official authorization for the formation of the unit was granted in 1951 and quarters were obtained in a building at 1180 Bishop Street. Major John McDonald was the first Sir George Williams Contingent commanding officer, from 1951-1954. Training methods included a theoretical phase in which the intellectual awareness of national security issues was taught, and a practical phase. A mess committee was responsible for organizing special events. In 1956 the contingent moved to 772 Sherbrooke St. West.

As a result of major alterations in defence policy after the Korean War (1950-1953), the Department of National Defence set new goals. One primary objective was to reduce expenditures. It was concluded that university reserves programs no longer provided officers for the reserves in sufficient numbers to support their cost. In 1964, meetings were held between the Department of National Defence, the Military Studies Committee, and the board of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada to discuss the future of all Canadian Officers Training Corps units; 50 per cent of reserve units were reduced that year. The University Naval Training Division, the Canadian Officers Training Corps, and the University Reserves Training Plan ended in 1968. The Sir George Williams University contingent was disbanded May 31, 1968. Major John Hall was the last commanding officer. To allow other means for undergraduates to serve in the reserves, the Reserve Officer University Training Plan (ROUPT) was instituted.

Sir George Williams University. Computer Centre

  • Corporate body
  • 1965-1974

The Computer Centre at Sir George Williams University (SGWU) was developed by Professors Jack Bordan (Engineering), Kurt Jonassohn (Sociology) and Graham Martin (Engineering) in the early 1960s. Kurt Jonassohn was a chief instigator in the acquisition of the first computer, an IBM 1620. The SGWU Computer Centre was formally organized in September 1965 with Graham Martin as its first Director, reporting to the Vice-Principal Academic. In August 1966 the Centre was given a proper place in the new Henry F. Hall Building. During the events that led to what is known as the Sir George Computer Centre Incident, the computer equipment had been severely damaged and a fire had broken out in the Computer Centre on February 11, 1969. The main computers of the Centre were subsequently housed away from the Hall Building for the next 25 years.

Sir George Williams University. Association of Alumni of Sir George Williams University

  • Corporate body
  • 1937-2014

The first meeting of the alumni association was held on October 27, 1937. John P. Kidd was the first president. The Association of Alumni of Sir George Williams College was incorporated in the Province of Quebec on September 16, 1957. Sir George Williams College became Sir George Williams University (SGWU) in 1959, and the organization's name changed to the Association of Alumni of Sir George Williams University in 1961. Following the merger of SGWU with Loyola College to form Concordia University in 1974, the Association renewed its constitution.

The Association published a quarterly brochure which was titled "Quarterly News-Letter" from 1944 to 1950, and "The Postgrad", from 1951 until 1968. Then the "Postgrad Newsletter" was published from 1968 to 1971, which was a followed by "The Garnet", which appeared from 1972 to 1977.

The objectives of the Association are to encourage the fellowship of graduates from Sir George Williams Schools, College, and University, through social, educational, and cultural activities; to establish and maintain a link with all graduates; to promote the interests of the university through alumni involvement in its governance; to raise funds and recruit students; to develop an awareness by the students of the university in the association by the furthering of student welfare; to promote the establishment of chapters of the Association; to strengthen the relationship with the Loyola Alumni Association and the Concordia University Alumni Association, with the intent to coordinate the activities of the associations, and to participate in the solicitation of funds and to promote a common interest by all alumni/ae in the university.

In 2014, the Concordia University Alumni Association (CUAA), Association of Alumni of Sir George Williams University and Loyola Alumni Association have united. On May 28, at special general meetings, the associations unanimously approved amalgamating into one organization.

Sir George Williams University

  • SGWU1
  • Corporate body
  • 1926-1974

The history of Sir George Williams University began with the establishment of the Young Men's Christian Association in Montreal in 1851. Part of the Y.M.C.A.'s mandate was to meet the needs of its members and to serve the Montreal community, so when members of the community, working individuals and local business leaders voiced the need for education "obtained from no text book...(but) from original sources," the Montreal Y.M.C.A. stepped in, and in 1873, the association inaugurated evening courses in vocational and general education. This system was known as the Educational Program and later, the Montreal Y.M.C.A. Schools.

In 1926, the Montreal Y.M.C.A. Schools changed its name to Sir George Williams College in honor of the founder of the Y.M.C.A. (London, England, 1844).

The College was intended to expand formal education opportunities for both young men and women employed in Montreal. Student guidance counselling and student-faculty interaction were particularly encouraged within the tightly-knit college community. The Depression and the economic boom in the '30s both led to steady enrolment increases. The College grew from a two-year program in the 1920s to a four-year program in 1934.

In 1948, Sir George Williams College officially obtained its university charter although it had been granting degrees since 1936/37. The recognition and financial assistance that came out of this led to further expansion. In 1959, the College requested that the Provincial Legislature amend its University Charter, changing its name to Sir George Williams University.

The university operated in various "annexes" throughout the neighbourhood but rapid expansion of the University led to the construction of a new building to accommodate all of its activities. In 1956, Sir George Williams University moved into the newly-constructed Norris Building. Even as the new building was opened, it was evident it would not be large enough and increasingly heavy enrollment forced the university into more annexes. Planning began for the construction of a new and larger building, and in 1966, the Henry F. Hall Building was opened on de Maisonneuve Boulevard.

Meanwhile in 1963 a Faculty structure was implemented when the combined Faculty of Arts, Science, and Commerce separated into three distinct faculties and the new Faculty of Engineering was created. Increased enrollment and larger government grants allowed the College to hire more full-time faculty members. Many disciplines began to offer more specializations, and Masters and Doctoral programs were added to the growing list of Majors and Honours.

It was the first Canadian university that offered a full range of university programs to evening students. In the late-1960s, Sir George Williams University severed ties, financial and otherwise, with the Y.M.C.A.

At the time of the merger with Loyola College, Sir George Williams University offered undergraduate and graduate programs to a diverse community.

In August 1974, Sir George Williams University merged with Loyola College to form Concordia University.

Quebec YMCA

  • QYMCA1
  • Corporate body
  • 1854-2002

The Young Men’s Christian Association was founded in London, England, on June 6th, 1844, by George Williams, a young draper who was concerned about harmful social conditions brought on by the Industrial Revolution. The original mission of this Evangelical Protestant society was to foster the mental, physical and spiritual development of young men, through education, physical exercise, sports and other social and leisure activities.

The first YMCA branch in North America opened in Montreal in 1851, followed shortly by branches in Boston and New York, and the World Alliance of YMCAs was formed in 1855. In 1854, the YMCA of Quebec City was founded. Jeffrey Hale’s Sunday School and the Medical Hall on Fabrique Street were among the first premises occupied by the organization. Henry Fry, president of the organization from 1870 to 1878, mobilized key members to solidify the legal status of the Quebec YMCA. On March 9th, 1878, the Quebec Young Men’s Christian Association was legally constituted and incorporated in the province of Quebec under the Victoria Act, number 41. This same year, John C. Thomson became president of the organization until 1889.

The first Quebec YMCA building was erected on Youville Square, at the intersection of Saint-John (today rue Saint-Jean) and Glacis streets. Designed by architect J.F. Peachy, it was inaugurated on the 20th of April 1880. The building featured a library, reading room, exercise room, recreation room, and a shelter, and the grounds featured tennis and croquet courts. The annex to the main building was inaugurated in 1898, and contained a pool, a gymnasium, a bowling alley, and all complementary facilities such as showers and lockers.

Notable activities and events held at the Quebec YMCA in the early 20th century include art exhibitions, concerts, lectures, and organized sports. In 1894, the first Quebec YMCA summer camp was held at Lac Beauport, and a base was established in Valcartier. Under president W.H. Wiggs, who served from 1914 to 1918, the Quebec YMCA opened its doors to soldiers, giving the military access to its gymnasium, pool and Valcartier base. The Canadian National Council of YMCAs was formed in 1912.

In 1943 the Quebec YMCA purchased a property in Beauport, on Lac des Chicots, which became the site of Camp Naskapi, a summer camp operated by the organization until 1978. In 1947 the St-John Street building, needing major renovations, was sold. The organization relocated temporarily to Turnbull Street, before settling into a new complex on St-Cyrille Boulevard, which was inaugurated in March of 1952. The building was named the Holt Memorial, in honour of John Holt, whose financial contributions made its erection possible. After this relocation, the Quebec YMCA shifted its mandate to rebrand itself as a family and community centre, and opened its doors to women and young girls. In the second half of the 20th century, the Quebec YMCA increasingly offered activities and programs for children, including daycare services, after-school programs, swimming lessons, and theatre activities.

In 2000, the Quebec YMCA was occupying a building that it didn’t own. When the building was sold, the administration decided to cease its activities in 2002. In 2009, the YMCAs of Quebec regrouped under the banner “Le Y du Québec”, and opened an office in Quebec City. In 2017, the YMCA and the Quebec City formed a partnership to build a new YMCA in the St-Roch borough. To this day, the YMCA maintains an active presence in Quebec City and Montreal.

Quebec Drama Federation

  • QDF1
  • Corporate body
  • 1989-

The Quebec Drama Federation is Quebec's umbrella association for English-language theater. The Federation is an outgrowth of the former Quebec Drama Festival, which was created in 1972 with the collapse of the Dominion Drama Festival. In 1981 a new festival was initiated, and in 1989 the organization changed its name to Quebec Drama Federation. QDF was re-incorporated as a federation in 1992 and completed its last festival in 1993. Current membership includes 100 individual artists and 50 theatre companies. QDF provides leadership in promotion, development, support, and advocacy. The mandate is to represent professional and aspiring theatre companies, individual artists, theatrical practitioners, theatre companies, and theatrical educators. Among the areas of ongoing research, consultation, and representation are access to cultural infrastructures, training resources, copyright protection, and a fair taxation system for artists. The Federation is supported by its members and the Department of Canadian Heritage, le Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec, Emploi-Québec, and other organizations.

Quebec Association for Adult Learning

  • QAAL1
  • Corporate body
  • 1981-

Steps toward founding the Quebec Association for Adult Learning (QAAL) took place in the late 1970s at meetings between the Canadian Association of Adult Education and the Protestant School Board of Greater Montreal. The formal creation of QAAL was in June 1981. The association serves Quebec adults who pursue learning projects, primarily in the English language.

The objectives of the QAAL are to provide leadership in lifelong learning and to promote educational opportunities for adults; to disseminate information; to facilitate voluntary cooperation among groups concerned with adult learning; to provide a forum for the exchange of ideas; to identify the educational needs of adults, and to train adult educators.

Concordia University is an institutional member. The Association secretariat is located at Concordia University.

Participation Quebec

  • PQ1
  • Corporate body
  • 1976-1982

Participation Quebec was founded in November 1976. It was a non-profit public interest organization dedicated to bringing together the anglophone and francophone communities in Quebec. Participation Quebec was non-partisan and was not affiliated with any other organizations until its eventual merger with Alliance Quebec. The organization was incorporated under the laws of Quebec and was registered as a charity for tax purposes. In 1978, the members of its executive were Michael Prupas (President), David Steward (Treasurer) and François Goulet (Executive Director). At that time, the organization had approximately 200 members.

According to Participation Quebec, it's goals were: "to have a positive influence on the policies of education and governmental institutions which promote the isolation of cultural groups within Quebec, or which are prejudicial to the building of a Quebec for all Quebecers" and "to improve the relations between the French and non-French speaking communities in Montreal." Throughout its years of Operation, Participation Quebec hosted symposiums, formed committees, sponsored meetings with government officials, prepared and tabled briefs, held press conferences, and organized speaker series, among other activities.

In May 1982, Participation Quebec and other anglophone rights organizations, including the Positive Action Committee, merged with Alliance Québec.


  • O1
  • Corporate body

The Montreal neighbourhood known as Overdale was bounded by the following streets: Overdale on the south, René Lévesque on the north, Mackay on the west, and Lucien L’Allier on the east. In 1987, 77 persons who rented living quarters in the area were threatened with eviction as a developer had bought the properties and wanted to build a 650-unit condominium. Estimated to cost $100 million, the development was to have twin 39-storey towers. The developer made a deal with the City of Montreal that would compensate him for relocating the residents. The developer would provide low-cost housing in a new building a few blocks away named Underdale. A press release from the City’s executive committee has the headline A Montreal Precedent: Developer Commits Himself to Rebuilding Low Rental Housing to Ensure Construction of an Important Real Estate Project.

Only after the deal was made did the City inform the affected residents. Some, mostly roomers, accepted the deal of a small cash settlement and relocation to Underdale. The majority wanted their homes integrated into the developer’s plan rather than have them demolished. The majority of City councillors and the executive committee were in favour of demolishing several buildings. A minority of City Council members were on the side of residents who wished to stay in their homes. Various tenants’ rights and heritage and neighbourhood preservation groups were formed, including the Overdale Housing Cooperative, the Overdale Tenants’ Association, Friends of Overdale, Les Amis d’Overdale-Lafontaine, and Save Overdale.

Residents used what were termed guerilla tactics in an effort to force the promoter and the city to change their plans. On several occasions residents and sympathizers were arrested for trying to prevent their eviction and the demolition of their homes. In March and June of 1988 the police riot squad showed up to evict the tenants who had still not left their homes. The buildings were emptied. Some were demolished and others boarded up. One of the houses affected, though not demolished, was the residence of Sir Louis-Hippolyte Lafontaine, prime minister of pre-confederation Canada 1848-1851, considered one of the fathers of responsible government in Canada and one of those who assured that French would be an official language of Canada.

As of 2003, the Lafontaine house still stands, boarded up, and a parking lot operates where the demolished buildings had been located.

Optica Art Gallery

  • O2
  • Corporate body
  • 1972-

Optica Art Gallery was officially founded in January 1972 by William E. Ewing in response to pressure from artists who convinced him of the need for a centre for the public exhibition of photography. The gallery was initially called les Galeries photographiques du Centaur; it was housed in the Centaur Theatre in Old Montreal. Its mandate was the exhibition of contemporary art.

After renovations in 1974, the gallery changed its name to Optica. Although the gallery originally featured only photographic exhibitions, it was not long before the gallery welcomed, with the Camerart exhibition (December 1974-January 1975), other forms of art. It would now consecrate half of its activities to photography, and the other half to other currents in art.

During the 1976-1977 season, internal policy changes meant that the gallery opened its doors to conceptual art, performance, painting, and sculpture. In 1977, the gallery added to its name A Centre for Contemporary Art. At the same time, its programming was modified and an experimental cinema section was added.

The centre is managed by a board of directors, most of whose 15 members come from the cultural milieu. They are encouraged to take an active part in the gallery's activities and to get involved in the associations to which the gallery belongs, including the Regroupement des centres d'artistes autogérés du Québec and la Société des Musées Québécois.

The gallery is subsidized by the Canada Council, the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec, and le Conseil des arts de Montréal.

Negro Community Centre

  • NCC1
  • Corporate body
  • 1927-1989

The Negro Community Centre was established in 1927 under the leadership of Charles H. Este, pastor of the Union United Church in Montreal. Reverend Charles H. Este, along with members of the Union United Church, set out to create an organization to help alleviate distress among Montreal's Black community.

The Centre, which first came into being in the living room of Reverend Charles H. Este, was located in a series of rented room in the St. Antoine Street district, also known as Little Burgundy, during its early years of operation. In 1930, the Centre moved into the basement of the Union United Church, located at 3007 Delisle Street. Due to a lack of space at the Union United Church, some of the Centre's early activities took place at Royal Arthur School. Originally supported by the Canadian National Railway, the Negro Community Centre obtained financial support from the Financial Federation of Montreal beginning in 1929. The Centre was accredited by the Council of Social Agencies in 1928. It was incorporated in 1949.

The Negro Community Centre remained at the Union United Church until 1955, at which time it moved into the Iverley Community Centre, located at 2035 Coursol Street. This move was a consequence of the merger of the Negro Community Centre and the Iverly Community Centre, which occurred as a result of the social welfare planning of the United Red Feather Service (now Centraide). By mutual agreement of the Boards of Directors, the Negro Community Centre moved into the building owned by the Iverley Community Centre on Coursol. The building, which was expanded over the years, included offices, a gymnasium, a sewing room, a kitchen, a library, and a credit union office (Walker Credit Union). The deed to the building was transferred from the Iverley Centre to the Negro Community Centre during the Annual General Meeting held in 1965.

The first programs offered at the Negro Community Centre were oriented towards the educational and recreational needs of children and teenagers. In 1949 under the guidance of Stanley A. Clyke, the Negro Community Centre began to develop age-specific activities for all members, and integrated health and welfare services into its programming. A variety of activities and services were offered over the years, including a daycare, summer camps, dance and music lessons, after-school programs, a seniors program, and language courses, among many others.

NCCU Hungarian Refugee Student Committee

  • NHRSC1
  • Corporate body
  • 1956-1958

The Hungarian Refugee Student Committee was established in December 1956 by the National Conference of Canadian Universities (NCCU) at the request of the Canadian Department of Citizenship and Immigration. Its mandate was to assess Hungarian refugee students, to facilitate their acquisition of English and French, and to direct them to Canadian universities and colleges. With financial aid from the federal government, the committee established an office in a government immigration hostel at 1162 St. Antoine St., Montreal in January 1957. The director was Matilde Elizabeth (Mrs. Frederick) Smith. Douglass Burns Clarke, vice-principal of Sir George Williams University, succeeded Maurice Beauchamp, o.m.i. of Ottawa University and T. H. Matthews of McGill University, as chair of the committee. (In 1965 the NCCU was renamed the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada.)

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