History of the Y
MOVING WITH THE TIMES (from The Book of Y)
The Young Men’s Hebrew Association and Young Women’s Hebrew Association both received their charters in 1910. The Associations amalgamated in 1950 when they moved to the Y’s current home on Westbury. For the past hundred years, the Y has served the Jewish Community, adapting to the needs of the times.
The Y’s resources have evolved considerably since its inception. The first location on Ontario East had a few pool tables and some gym equipment in the basement. As membership grew, resources grew. The Y tennis courts opened in Fletcher’s Field (Jeanne Mance Park) in 1927. The Davis building on Mount Royal was dedicated in 1929 and provided ample space and equipment for 21 years until the membership outgrew the facilities.
Adjusting to the shifting geography of the Jewish community, the Y followed its members from the Plateau to Snowdon, and as demographics demanded, Côte St-Luc and Laval branches opened. When the community moved further west, the Y responded by shifting its branches accordingly and opening the West Island Jewish Community Centre.
In 1965, Neighborhood House amalgamated with the Y and evolved into the Centre Communautaire Juif in 1978. In 1967, the Saidye Bronfman Centre opened as a branch of the Y. In 2007, it became an independent organization: The Segal Centre for the Performing Arts.
THE Y IS ALWAYS THERE
The Y has always been there in times of need. In 1914, the YWHA opened Camp Welcome to help young Russian émigrés adapt in Canada. During World War I, the YMHA established a synagogue for prayer services for soldiers far from home. The synagogue remained active for the next fifty years. Throughout the Great Depression, the Y offered employment services and reduced fees for its membership. With the onset of World War II, the Y supplied training facilities and the Y’s renowned Minstrels brought entertainment to troop camps throughout Quebec and the Northeastern United States. Since its inception, the Y has responded to the needs of immigrants from Europe, Africa, South America and Asia.
Over one hundred years have seen the Y grow from its beginnings in a flat above a laundromat to today’ s state-of-the-art fitness, community, educational and cultural association. Today, the Sylvan Adams YM YWHA consists of two branches: The Ben Weider JCC, and the Harry Bronfman Y Country Camp. Our new vision is to “Sustain Jewish Continuity.” In this pursuit, our Mission is to be the destination of choice for all members of our community; a warm and welcoming place to gather for social and physical activity; where every individual is inspired to achieve a feeling of total wellness, experience a profound sense of belonging and connection, and embrace the value of responsibility to others. Together, with our community partners and the strong support and collaboration with Federation CJA, the Y will work tirelessly and with unyielding energy and enthusiasm, to bring this vision and mission to life for our community.