The Fredericton YMCA has been an important part of life in our city since before Confederation. First organized in 1858, the Fredericton YMCA has grown from a handful of forward-thinking citizens meeting in a small room at City Hall to today’s multimillion-dollar facility drawing thousands of active participants.
The Y traces its origins to the Industrial Revolution in England and the concern of George Williams (later Sir George Williams) that Christian values and standards were being threatened by a changing society. Williams was only 23 years old, but the movement he began in 1844 quickly spread to the mainland of Europe, then to Canada in 1851, and to Fredericton seven years later.
Incorporated by an act of the New Brunswick Legislature in 1875, the YMCA was a modest organization in Fredericton until the 1890s when a concerted effort was made to strengthen it. In 1895, a ladies’ auxiliary was formed, a “secretary” was hired, and quarters were found on Queen Street.
Three years later, the Y purchased its first building, on York Street, and the local movement thrived until 1922 when, unfortunately, the facility was lost to fire. In the 1930s, community members worked to re-establish the YMCA, and, following a successful financial campaign, the Y was once more providing a wide array of programs.
The YMCA and YWCA—until then separate institutions in Fredericton—amalgamated in the 1940s and relocated to King Street before moving a few years later to a building on the corner of York and Brunswick streets. (In 1996, the Fredericton Y disaffiliated from the YWCA because of financial considerations.)
Growth over the years prompted the construction of a new building on 28 Saunders St. Successful fundraising drives in 1964, 1979, 1982 and 1998 financed $4.8 million in renovations and additions to the building and permitted the Y to broaden its programs. In 2009 a commitment was made to construct a new Y on the site of the former Albert Street School on the corner of Albert and York streets. Members moved in on Oct. 5, 2011.
Today the YMCA of Fredericton operates with a hub and spoke system from the hub at 570 York St., the northside wellness centre at 605 Cliffe St., plus numerous outreach locations strategically located throughout the city.