On board Canada 150 with YMCA Canada

Back in the Fall of 2016 I worked on a project for YMCA Canada.  I researched the topic of “railway YMCAs” in support of YMCA Canada’s “LocalMOTION” program commemorating Canada 150.  Railway Ys were YMCA buildings located in remote railway towns and near large railway yards.  They served railway workers and the local community from the late nineteenth-century to the late-twentieth-century.


  • YMCA Canada, “The Canadian Railway YMCA Story,” 5:09min YouTube video, published 9 June 2017, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uDsIyyW1iJY

I produced two papers that, so I am told, provided YMCA staff and others involved in the project with useful background information and a few key insights.  I also collected and digitized a number of images from the YMCA’s archival collection, and from material at the Toronto Reference Library.  It was some of the most enjoyable work I’ve done as a consultant, and it’s gratifying knowing that I contributed to the Ys celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary.


Check out the YMCA’s LocalMOTION initiatve on the web here.   There’s a fun challenge to get involved in, and you can connect on social media using the #YMCALocalMOTION hashtag.  (On Twitter, look up @YMCA_Canada.)  It’s frankly pretty cool to see small elements of what I worked on as part of the historical perspective on the LocalMOTION website.  And a bit of a thrill to see the videos, in French and English embedded here, that the Y created as a part of the project!


I am also glad to see that the Y recognizes its own longevity in the videos (see the end).  The federal state that Confederation created has been around for 150 years now, but the Canadian Y has been around for 166 years.  It was founded in an earlier version of Canada, in which railways were already active.


  • YMCA Canada, “L’histoire des YMCA du rail canadiens,” 4:33min YouTube video, published 9 June 2017, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CJNHa7GOln0



Nathan Smith, “On Board Canada 150 with YMCA Canada,” 17 June 2017, HIS241.com, http://www.his241.com/?p=398



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