We’ve been helping people reach their potential in Vancouver since the beginning. 

In 1886 the newly incorporated City of Vancouver was booming. The population had quadrupled in a short time and the city was filled with new people. A group of concerned citizens decided our burgeoning city needed a YMCA—a place to “look after the welfare of young men”.

Today’s YMCA is much different from the organization founded in 1886. While we are still committed to strengthening community; we are no longer just for men. Over time we have grown to be a reflection of the communities we serve. Thousands of women, men, children, teenagers and families from many different backgrounds in Vancouver call the YMCA their second home.

As Vancouver has grown over the years, so have we. Over the course of our long and storied history, there have been many milestones, goals reached and programs delivered. Here is a timeline that represents some of our story: 

  • 1886 – The Canadian Pacific Railway leases a lot on Hastings Street to the YMCA, paving the way for the first YMCA Building in Vancouver
  • 1893 – The Second YMCA Building opens at 147 West Hastings Street
  • 1905 – The YMCA opens a building on the corner of Cambie and Dunsmuir streets downtown, offering fitness classes that include the aspects of “hygienic, corrective, educative and recreative exercise”
  • 1907 – Nine acres of waterfront property on Howe Sound is purchased at $150/acre to establish YMCA Camp Elphinstone
  • 1908 – The Vancouver YMCA Swimming and Life Saving Club is established, offering swim lessons for the first time
  • 1909 – The YMCA assumes responsibility for supervising the city’s playgrounds at the request of the Vancouver Playground Association
  • 1922 – The Vancouver Y’s Men’s Club is organized. The club commits to participate in the civic, economic and social interests of the city while declaring “to acknowledge the duty that accompanies every right"
  • 1936 – The YMCA launches So-Ed, the YMCA’s Young Adult Education Recreation Program
  • 1941 – The new Downtown YMCA building opens on Burrard Street – a dream come true for longtime YMCA staff and donors
  • 1939-1945 – The Y makes its facilities available to members of the armed forces free of charge and conducts social programs for servicemen
  • 1958 – B.C. premier W.A.C Bennett breaks ground on the new youth wing of the Central Y on Burrard Street
  • 1970 – The YMCA helps the City respond to large volumes of newcomers and sets up temporary Y lodge at the King George High School Gymnasium, providing beds and meals to all
  • 1973 – YMCA begins its child care programming by opening the Killarney Gardens Centre and Alma Centre
  • 1978 – The South Slope Family YMCA opens, a facility now well known as the Langara Family YMCA
  • 1992 – The Annual Campaign begins raising funds to ensure no one is left out
  • 2002 – Tong Louie Family YMCA opens in Surrey
  • 2003 – The YMCA creates and launches the Youth Peace Network, a program that brings together young leaders from YMCAs across the world for cultural exchange
  • 2005 – Chilliwack Family YMCA joins the YMCA of Greater Vancouver Association
  • 2006 – The first Healthy Kids Day is held, encouraging children and families to lead healthier, more active lives.
  • 2009 – Bob & Kay Ackles YMCA Nanook House opens to serve vulnerable families
  • 2010 – Intercultural Community Gardens Program is launched on the rooftop of St. Paul’s Hospital
  • 2010 – The Mark Hume Waterfront and Leadership Development Centre opens at Camp Elphinstone, fostering the development of a new generation of YMCA leadership
  • 2010 – Robert Lee YMCA opens and grows to a quick 7,000 members in its first seven months
  • 2013 – Hosted 1,100 delegates at the YMCA Development Organization (NAYDO) International Conference
  • 2015  Completed the redevelopment of YMCA Camp Elphinstone (MacKenzie Hall, new lodges and Exploration Hall)