In 1844, George Williams, a dapper type of chap, developed the first ever YMCA and a half century later Baron Baden-Powell established the Boy Scouts. Both young men wanted more for aimless youth of their eras. The goal was to make young people healthier and thus happier especially when youngsters worked six days a week.
Midland’s first YMCA was just the second in Canada to open, Montreal YMCA was the first. There was a time when both organizations attracted young people by the droves. The YMCA also offered shelter to those working but unable to find alternative housing. Homeless males were also offered both meals and shelter. One was probably one of the youngest to join Woodstock YMCA, since dad was president of the Y and mom was president of the YMCA back in the early ’40s.
This writer in his mid-20’s became Community Youth Secretary of the Etobicoke YM-YWCA and later the same portfolio at North Toronto YMCA. Summer school was held at Geneva Park with professors coming from Springfield College and George Williams University. In between there were correspondence courses to keep us busy.
As for Cubs/Scouts, as a kid, one was a member of Woodstock Moose Lodge Cubs and Scouts. We learned to tie knots, start camp fires, we collected empty pop bottles and polished our share of apples to sell during our annual fund raisers.
Sadly with iPads, iPods, laptops, video games and most teens not keen about joining any kind of formal organization, membership has fallen off compared to the so-called “good ol’ days”. Same with Teen Town, CYO, now all but memories. Fraternal organizations in many cases are finding it difficult too to fill their ranks with new blood. When was the last time you heard of a person never missing a monthly meeting in 50 years? Believe it or not this wasn’t uncommon a half century ago.
Huronia Museum: Midland YMCA History