YM-YWHA’s Active Service Centre

by Kate

I recently had the chance to research the YM-YWHA’s Active Service Centre for our boys in WWII. Run by young hostesses, this Centre provided entertainment like dances and splash parties for servicemen in need of a little distraction. I came across some newspaper clippings in the YM-YWHA archival collection that profiled a particularly unique outing offered by the ladies.

In the summer of 1944, over 90 Canadian veterans returned home after fighting in Italy and Normandy. They arrived in Montreal on a sunny August day, but were met by delayed trains. Luckily, YWHA ladies were on hand! They treated the men to a picnic at Windsor Beach and then to a dinner at Central Station. The photo below shows the smiling crowd as they enjoyed what must have been a very welcome homecoming.

This article quotes one veteran, Sgt “Mac” MacIver R.C.A., of Winnipeg, as describing the outing as “more than we even dared dream of in the slit trenches.”

The YM-YWHA’s Active Service Centre had many treats like this, including singalongs, films, a lending library and of course, the requisite afternoon tea. It was a place for the boys to blow off steam, and as the above photo shows, enjoy the company of genial ladies as well!

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