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The Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA) and the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA)

The Young Men's Christian Association was founded in London, England on 6 June 1844 in response to unhealthy social conditions arising in the big cities at the end of the Industrial Revolution. Eleven years later, the Young Women’s Christian Association was established by Emma Roberts and Mrs. Arthur Kinnaird. Both the Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA) and its male counterpart, the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) served the homefront community by providing advisory, recreational, and leisure services to military personnel and their families, as well as to civilian workers.

Canadian War Services YMCA badgeThe YMCA operated government-built recreational huts and canteens to those attending the many British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP) bases and schools and militia camps situated throughout the province. The YMCA also furnished service personnel with sports equipment, movies and projectors, and reading and writing materials and established viewing and reading rooms. Members of the YMCA welcomed new recruits to communities and offered directions and information on the region’s amenities.

Canadian YMCA Volunteer Worker badgeOperating mainly in urban centres, the YWCA focused much of its efforts on aiding and assisting servicewomen, working women, and soldiers' families. The organization provided daycare services, social clubs, and housing for working women—especially those who had relocated to a new community. YWCA chapters operated hostess houses near military bases and training centres and offered shelter, food, and recreational services to families traveling to visit husbands and fathers. Three hostess houses were established in Alberta at Camrose, Claresholm, and Fort Macleod. Like their counterpart volunteer and service organizations, the YWCA organized handicraft, sewing, and knitting sessions to make clothing items for donation to the Red Cross. The “Y” also coordinated and taught nutritional, purchasing, and cooking classes to help women (mothers) cope with rationing and the subsequent shortage of some foods.

References

Hurst, Alan M. The Canadian Y.M.C.A. in World War II. Toronto: National War Services Committee of the National Council of the Young Men's Christian Association of Canada, 1948.

YMCA Edmonton. “History.” (accessed September, 2007).


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