Our History

The journey toward ending gender-based violence is daunting at times and the road is long, but our sisterhood and our allies have a vision and a fierce, unwavering determination. We have been here for more than 130 years and we are ready to be here for as long as it takes to see this vision through.

black and white photograph from the early 1900's featuring two women hugging on the front steps of a brick building

Read about the YWCA’s history in our e-book, Changing Lives in Changing Times 1891-1991

2022YWCA Board of Directors approves new Strategic Plan for 2023-2028.
2021YWCA implements additional COVID-19 practices, protocols and procedures to ensure that women with or without children have uninterrupted access to services; the best possible health outcomes for staff and those who access the shelter; and that the organization is able to maintain a healthy, committed workforce.
2020YWCA implements COVID-19 screening assessment, disinfecting, physical distancing and isolation practices and shifts to a combination of in-person and virtual support services (Crossroads Shelter, HERS and 24 Hour Support & Crisis line remain open).
YWCA hosts first Virtual Challenge fundraiser.
2019YWCA launches Practice Framework to unify services across all locations.
2017YWCA receives funding from the Ontario Trillium Foundation in support of Nourish food programming for the next 3 years
2016YWCA introduces a web-based story sharing tool for survivors of gender-based violence.
2013YWCA Peterborough Victoria & Haliburton officially changes its name to YWCA Peterborough Haliburton to better reflect the service area.
2011YWCA launches Family Court Support program and Support Team for Abuse Response Today (START) in Peterborough.
2010Ribbon Ceremony is held to celebrate the opening of the new Crossroads Shelter.
2009Groundbreaking for the new YWCA Crossroads Safe Haven Shelter (September 10th).
YWCA hosts first annual YWCA Walk a Mile in Her Shoes fundraiser in Peterborough.
2007Feasibility Study begins for Capital Campaign to build a new Crossroads Shelter.
YWCA receives $1,000,000 from the Province of Ontario towards capital project.
2006HERS (Haliburton Emergency Rural SafeSpace) opens.
Compass Training Centre launches to provide organization training services on positive culture change, inclusion and social determinants of health.
2005YWCA purchases property in Minden Ontario and secures capital funding to create a home for our Haliburton County services for women experiencing violence.
2004YWCA receives funding from the Ontario Trillium Foundation to launch a training pilot project and create a YWCA training department, grounded in feminist and anti-oppression values and goals.
YWCA conducts a feasibility study which recommends that the YWCA build one new, fully accessible shelter for women and children fleeing abuse, to replace the two aging Crossroads Shelters. The old shelters have housed over 10,000 women and children since 1983.
YWCA Women’s Centre in Haliburton County moves from Haliburton to Minden.
2003Seeds for Tomorrow planning process identifies ambitious goals for the next three years with a strong focus on enhancing programs for women and children, establishing a new rural SafeSpace for women in Haliburton County, and building a new facility in Peterborough to combine our two emergency shelters under one roof.
YWCA hosts first annual Empty Bowls event in partnership with The Kawartha Potters Guild (who donated 130 handmade bowls) and local restaurants and businesses, raising $2,800 and increasing awareness about hunger and food insecurity.
2002A web-based local news service about violence prevention and peace building is created by 4 local agencies – Peaceful Communities.
“Making Waves” program is introduced.
2001A Good Food Box program is initiated in partnership with the Haliburton Pine Ridge Health Unit.
1999YWCA begins long term therapy for women abuse survivors.
YWCA is a founding member of the Peaceful Communities Group.
Walk-a-thon is created to raise money and awareness of the YWCA (name is later changed to Freedom Walk).
YWCA begins work developing a new model for a rural shelter in Haliburton County with financial support from the FaithWorks Campaign of the Anglican Church of Canada.
1998YWCA commits to creating a women’s shelter in Haliburton County after women’s emergency closes.
School-based violence prevention programs for youth initiated in Peterborough and Haliburton counties.
Friends and admirers create a special education fund in honour of Hazel, a consumer, advisor and volunteer with YWCA.
YWCA introduces the Gleaning Program which takes low income families to pick-your-own farms who offer free harvesting after the main harvest is over, thus sharing the remaining fruit and vegetables with people struggling with food costs.
1997YWCA is a co-founder of the Peaceful Communities Steering Group, dedicated to violence prevention and peace building.
The YWCA Deaf Access program is implemented to sensitize all staff to Deaf culture, the needs of Deaf and Hard of Hearing women who may experience abuse, and build practical links with the Deaf community.
1996YWCA initiates YWCA Week Without Violence in Peterborough in October as part of a World YWCA campaign.
Partnerships are developed to strengthen our community development work.
Wooden Dreams, a women’s enterprise project is launched.
1995Major government funding cuts lead YWCA to renewed commitment to anti-poverty and anti-violence work with a community development approach.
Buildings are renovated to improve physical accessibility.
1993YWCA embarks on a renewal plan to begin changes to increase accessibility and diversity for women who are often marginalized. A growing awareness of systemic barriers experienced by Indigenous women, immigrant and visible minority women, women with disabilities and lesbians, inspired a commitment to developing anti-oppression/anti-racism practices.
1991Our centennial year.
The Peterborough YWCA’s name is changed to YWCA of Peterborough, Victoria and Haliburton to reflect our involvement in these communities.
YWCA Centennial Crescent, 40 units of housing for women and their children opens.
1990A majority of frontline staff sign union membership cards with CUPE and apply to the Ontario Labour Relations Board for certification.
1989YWCA assumes operation of the Cameron Street Resource Centre, a 4-bedroom housing unit offering community development, children’s programming, and health promotion to people who live in rent geared to income housing at the Cameron Street and Crawford Drive communities.
Health promotion staff participate in the development of a food action initiative, Collective Kitchens, led by public health nutritionist and outreach staff from Women’s Health Care Centre.
On-site analysis July 4 – 7 to take the Peterborough YWCA into the 21st century.
1998Family Violence Safety Network name changes to Women’s Safety Network.
1987The dream of an affordable housing complex for women and children who have been in abusive situations inspired the planning of what is to become Centennial Crescent.
1986In June, the Family Violence Safety Network Outreach offices are opened in Haliburton and Lindsay, providing counselling and access to services for women in crisis.
1985Crossroads I and II become a unified service.
Year round programming begins in Spring.
Family Violence Safety Network is initiated in fall for Counties of Haliburton, Victoria, Peterborough.
Toll-free Crisis Line opens in September.
Association Audit takes place January – April.
Delegates attend YWCA of Canada National Convention.
1984Programming is restarted in January 1984 with part-time staff person.
Crossroads I and II operate to capacity.
Initiate Safe Homes program.
1983Sells 220 Simcoe and moves administration to Stevenson Hall (216 Simcoe).
Opens Crossroads I for women and children in crisis and Crossroads II for single women.
Most committees are restarted.
1982Separate ‘Crossroads’ home bought. Raised over $40,000 for purchase.
1981Closes pool and gym, ceases all programs except residence due to lack of money, deficit and loan owed to Bank.
220 Simcoe put up for sale.
1979Renovates cafeteria.
Creates Women (and girls’) Development Committee.
Opens “Crossroads”.
1978Adapts residence to provide crisis housing for single mothers with children.
Initiates outreach programming.
1973Opens Y’s Buys – second hand clothing and antique shop.
1966Purchases Stevenson Hall for $75,000.00.
1965Budget of $107,586.00.
1960’sBecomes part of World Service Program.
Hosts World Delegate.
1950Renovates and renames cafeteria “The Copper Kettle” – (public service).
1941Joins Community Fund. (Now called United Way).
1940’sWorld War II – helps war effort – welcomes “displaced female persons” – “a home away from home” for 70 girls during wartime.
1937City wide campaign raises $46,000.00.
1930Depression years to 1939 – busy employment bureau – offers team time, friendship – gym and games keep up morale.
1919Hires general assistant secretary and physical director.
1918Opens first swimming pool (used until 1939). Provides swimming lessons for children and handicapped adults/children. (By 1966, 25,000 persons used the pool. The gym program involved 16,855 children and adults.)
1904Purchases land at Simcoe and Aylmer Streets for new building. Raises $3500.00.
1898YWCA undertakes first “foreign work”.
Provides rooms for 24 residents (919 meals).
Holds meetings for CGE girls.
Operates an Employment Bureau.
1895Members attend the 1st Dominion Conference. YMCA gym is used for physical exercises.
1892Budget of $324.00.
1891Two women from each church meet to organize the YWCA. They provide Bible studies, educational classes and club groups in a few rooms over a store and operate a safe, comfortable boarding home for out of town girls.