Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada is part of a global movement dedicated to helping young people grow into healthy, confident, contributing adults.
The first established Boys Clubs originated in the eastern United States in the late 1860s. At the same time, a similar movement was beginning in Great Britain. The first use of the name “Boys’ Club” was in New Haven, Connecticut to identify a reading room and coffee shop for street youth.
In Canada, Boys and Girls Clubs' proud heritage of service to youth began in Saint John, New Brunswick. In 1900, a group of concerned local citizens set up a "public playground movement" to provide a safe place to play for children—particularly boys from disadvantaged circumstances with no place to go after school. The "Every Day Club," originally established as a winter location for the Playground Association, later became known as the East End Boys’ Club and later The East End Boys Club of Saint John—the first “Boys Club” in Canada.
The Club’s original mission was “to give youth a chance to have some recreation and to see beyond the confines of their immediate situation.” Since those days, “Boys Clubs” have become Boys and Girls Clubs and have spread across the country through grassroots initiatives similar to the one in Saint John.
Boys' Clubs of Canada, the national body representing more than 30 member Clubs at the time, was established in 1929 by Vernon McAdam, the first National Executive Director. In 1948, it received its official charter as a national, nonprofit organization from Parliament. In 1974, the name changed to "Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada" to reflect the growing number of young girls who had been participating in Club programs for many years.
Throughout our more than 100-year history, Boys and Girls Clubs in Canada have provided safe, caring environments and stimulating programs for close to 3 million young Canadians. Our Clubs have helped youth, ranging in age from pre-school to young adulthood, to play, learn and develop skills to help them achieve their full potential and grow up to be healthy, successful and active participants in society.
Today, the need is still great for the vital educational, recreational and skills development programs and services Boys and Girls Clubs offer in communities nationwide. In large city centres, remote rural communities and on First Nations reserves, Boys and Girls Clubs continue to help guide young Canadians toward responsible, fulfilling and productive adulthood.
Clubs reach young people, particularly those living in disadvantaged communities, in purpose-built facilities, community centres and non-traditional settings such as shopping malls, schools, homeless shelters, group homes and on the streets. Our organization is known for developing programs that respond to the individual needs of the children in each community.
Boys and Girls Clubs are dedicated to ensuring that young people are given every opportunity to develop to their fullest potential. It is our goal that every youth grow up equipped to meet the challenges of leading and building this country in the 21st century.