Vancouver Centennial Plaque #17 – Young Men's Christian Association


139 W Hastings


SFU Goldcorp Centre for the Arts





The Vancouver branch of the Y.M.C.A. was organized on October 24, 1886 to provide recreation and Christian fellowship to young men. Its first building opened on this site a year later.”

Credit: Vancouver Centennial Commission, Historic Plaque Program – list and documentation plaques 1-49 (June 18, 1986). Courtesy of Vancouver Archives


In Vancouver’s early days, the city was filled with young single men following the work. Many businesses sprang up to cater to their needs – saloons, gambling dens, brothels and even opium parlours. Residents were concerned, so decided to establish a Vancouver branch of the Young Men's Christian Association. The Canadian Pacific Railway leased one of their lots at a low rent and construction began on a two-storey wooden building. There was a 250 seat auditorium on the ground floor, with a reading room, office, classroom and social area above, and a gym in the basement.

The first building opened in 1887, but the YMCA soon outgrew the space, so a new three-storey stone building was constructed next door and opened in 1893. However, it put the organization in a financial hole, so both buildings were lost in foreclosure the following year. The YMCA continued to operate in the city, starting with rented spaces in office blocks before growing again, more slowly and safely. In 1986, the YMCA also celebrated its centennial in the city.

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