VIEW-3165.1 | Y.W.C.A. building, Dorchester Street, Montreal, QC, 1898

Y.W.C.A. building, Dorchester Street, Montreal, QC, 1898
Wm. Notman & Son
1898, 19th century
Silver salts on paper mounted on paper - Albumen process
23 x 19 cm
Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Architecture (8646) , building (531) , Photograph (77678)
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Keys to History

On the heels of the reform movement, women began raising the issue of the subordinate, behind-the-scenes role society assigned to them. In the first decade of the 20th century, Montreal was a hotbed of the women's rights movement in Canada. The Montreal Local Council of Women, founded in 1893, spoke up primarily for women in the English-speaking community, while the Fédération nationale Saint-Jean-Baptiste, established in 1907, did the same for French-speaking women. These organizations fought for the recognition of the political and legal rights of women and for women to be allowed access to higher education and training for the professions. They were very active in social reform movements. Two leading figures in the Montreal women's rights movement were Marie Gérin-Lajoie (1867-1945) and Julia Drummond (1897-1937), but many other women, most of them from well-off families, also distinguished themselves.

  • What

    Among the organizations that devoted themselves to women's welfare, the Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA) played a special role. Its aim was to provide young women arriving in the city with accommodation, recreational and training activities, and help finding employment.

  • Where

    After occupying a number of different sites, the YWCA moved in 1897 to the building shown in the photograph. It is located in the west end of downtown, on Dorchester Boulevard (now René Lévesque Boulevard), near Crescent Street.

  • When

    The Montreal YWCA was founded in 1874, just four years after the one in Saint John, NB, which was Canada's first. In the years to follow, the YWCA offered a variety of specialized courses (cooking, stenography, bookkeeping, etc.) and became a pioneer in providing training for women.

  • Who

    In 1914 the YWCA had accommodations for 85 young women in the building shown in the photograph and room for 50 more in an annex it opened in 1908. In 1914 an additional residence was opened that could house another 50 residents.