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Junior League of Montreal Fonds (P685)

Program The Patchwork Girl of Oz, extract from Junior League of Montreal scrapbook (detail), about 1931. Gift of the Junior League of Montreal, Junior League of Montreal Fonds P685, P685/E2,1.1 © McCord Museum

Using theatre to help those in need

"The Junior League of Montreal presents -
The Patchwork Girl of Oz -
Victoria Hall"

To the delight of the families in attendance, the Patchwork Girl, Uncle Nunkie, Ojo the Unlucky and a host of other characters from the land of Oz created by L. Frank Baum were brought to life for two performances in Westmount's Victoria Hall. This production of The Patchwork Girl of Oz was part of the 1930-1931 fundraising campaign of the Junior League of Montreal, a charitable women's organization founded in 1912. The funds raised helped support a summer camp for underprivileged children, a dental clinic in Griffintown, and the Montreal General and Royal Victoria Hospital canteens, to name just a few of the League's many initiatives.

The Quebec community services sector owes a lot to the Junior League of Montreal. For nearly a century, its volunteers worked with partner organizations from hospitals, schools, museums and non-profits to support numerous projects to assist children and families. However, the League ceased operations in 2006.

P685 Junior League of Montreal Fonds. - 1913-2007. - 6 m of textual records and other documents.

Administrative History

The Junior League was founded in New York in 1901. This charitable women's organization is committed to promoting volunteerism and developing the potential of its members through volunteer work. Members are encouraged to play a leading role in their communities by participating in projects that are initiated by the Junior League and then handed over to local community groups. The Junior League is open to all women under the age of 40 (the age at which a woman will have developed the expertise needed to assume a leadership role in her community).

The Montreal branch of this American organization was established in 1912, initially under the name the "Debutante League of Montreal," which was soon replaced by the "Junior League of Montreal." Mrs. A. C. Macdougall was the first president. Officially incorporated in 1940, the organization was headquartered in the Ritz-Carlton hotel on Sherbrooke Street until 1968, when it moved to 366 Victoria Street. Over the years, it established various committees, including the Interview Committee, the Admissions Committee, the Finance Committee, the Placement Committee, and even the Garden Club.

In 1917, the Junior League of Montreal began offering courses to inform its members about major public health issues and how they could help address them. The organization provided community assistance through a variety of projects, some of which were organized in partnership with other groups working in the community, hospitals or universities. In 1922, for example, the Junior League began supplying books and staff to the Montreal General Hospital patients' library. In addition, it played an active role in volunteer efforts during the Great Depression and both world wars.

These are some of the other projects carried out by the Junior League of Montreal over the years: the founding of the Volunteer Bureau of Montreal (1937); the creation of community preschools, in co-operation with the City of Montreal; the creation of a slide library for the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (1960s); the opening of the Villeneuve day care centre (1970s); the training of volunteer guides for Montreal museums like the Château Ramezay, the Redpath Museum and the McCord Museum; and support for the Chez Doris women's shelter (1990s). One of the Junior League's most successful projects was its summer camp. Founded in 1921, the camp welcomed over 300 girls from low-income families in the early 1960s. In total, nearly 12,000 girls attended the camp; today, Camp Amy Molson carries on its mission.

The Junior League of Montreal became known for its fundraising activities, holding large-scale events such as musical revues, vaudeville shows and dance performances in major theatres like the Monument-National. However, the organization's initial fundraising efforts were more modest, consisting of luncheons and tea parties. It also raised money with its thrift stores. The Bargain Box, which opened in 1927, was renamed the Turnabout Shop in 1972, and then La Ligue in the 1980s. In 1980, the organization complied with Bill 101 and officially adopted the French name of "La Jeune Ligue de Montréal.".

Membership in the Junior League of Montreal and similar organizations began to decline in the 1960s as the government gradually assumed responsibility for social services and women's place in society evolved. In 2006, after 94 years of training over 2700 members, it ceased operations. However, the Association of Junior Leagues International (AJLI) continues to prosper and today includes 294 regional organizations in Canada, the United States, Mexico and the United Kingdom.

Scope and Content

This fonds documents the nearly century-long existence of the Junior League of Montreal. It covers the organization's history, administration and finances, the projects it participated in over the years, membership, relations and interactions with other Junior Leagues across North America, publications and media activities and, finally, its dissolution.

The fonds contains historical records, governing documents (charter and by-laws), annual reports, minutes from meetings of the Board of Directors and Executive Committee, as well as accounting and financial documents like cheque registers, expenditure records, bank statements and financial statements. The fonds also contains files on the numerous projects initiated or supported by the Junior League of Montreal, membership lists and exams, various documents chronicling its relations with the other Junior League branches in Canada and the United States, correspondence, advertising flyers, and newsletters produced by the Junior League of Montreal and the Association of Junior Leagues International. Finally, there are several scrapbooks of the Montreal organization's various activities. This collection of documents is completed by audio-visual materials, a digital document, several objects, and photographs illustrating projects, ceremonies, commemorations, shows, and the summer camp run by the Junior League.

Source of title proper: Title based on the contents of the fonds.

Physical description: Contains approximately 850 photographs, 12 audio-visual documents, 1 floppy disk and 9 objects: president's gavel, metal sign with the initials "J. L.", commemorative plaque presented by the Association of Junior Leagues International, a metal nameplate inscribed with "The Junior League of Montreal Inc," a seal, a badge, an apron and two silver spoons.

Physical condition: Several newspaper articles have come unglued from the scrapbook pages. Some of the older printed documents are very brittle. Some photographs are still in albums with self-adhesive pages.

Immediate source of acquisition: The fonds was donated to the McCord Museum by the Junior League of Montreal via Mrs. Norma Morgan, in November 2005. Additional records were donated in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2016.

Language: The documents are primarily in English, but several texts are in French.

Restrictions on access: Access to some of the documents in the series "P685/F Membership" is limited due to the personal information contained therein.

Associated material:

City of Vancouver Archives: Junior League of Greater Vancouver Fonds (AM1439)

Glenbow Museum: Junior League of Calgary Fonds

BAnQ (Old Montreal): Fonds Conrad Poirier (P048)

LAC includes several fonds whose contents document the Junior League of Montreal, for example:

  • Maurice Sauvé Fonds (R6339-0-8-F)
  • Montreal Young Women's Christian Association Fonds (R2866-06E)
  • Brooke Claxton Fonds (R3306-0-1-E)

General note: The Notman Photographic Archives collection contains a number of photographs depicting members of the Junior League at various activities.

The fonds is divided into the following series, subseries and files:

  • P685/A History and By-Laws

  • P685/B Annual Reports

  • P685/C Minutes: Board of Directors and Executive Committee

  • P685/D Accounting and Financial Documents

  • P685/E Activities, Community Services and Special Projects
    • P685/E1 Community-based service projects
    • P685/E2 Plays, shows and revues. - 1929-1963. - 23 cm of textual records.
    • Scope and Content: This subseries documents the revues, plays, concerts and other social activities organized as part of the Junior League of Montreal's fundraising efforts. It contains programs, books of sheet music and lyrics, scripts, correspondence, scrapbooks, and administrative and financial documents produced by the various committees associated with fundraising events.

      Source of title proper: Based on the contents of the subseries.

      Language: The documents are in English.

    • P685/E3 Other Junior League activities

  • P685/F Membership

  • P685/G Relations with Charities

  • P685/H Various Documents and Correspondence

  • P685/I Communications and Marketing

  • P685/J Newsletters
  • P685/K Scrapbooks

  • P685/L Audio-Visual Materials

  • P685/M Objects

  • P685/N Photographs


Last update: October 12, 2017