St. Alban’s Boys and Girls Club is a community agency where member children, youth, families and adults meet in a safe supportive environment to share and experience a sense of community, belonging and a healthy lifestyle, Our emphasis is on children and youth programming as we believe that confident and healthy children and youth become responsible members in the community.
History of St. Alban’s
St. Alban’s Boys and Girls Club was founded in 1949 in a church basement to get young people involved in healthy activities and to provide positive role models and opportunities for personal growth. Through innovative approaches and programs and successful fundraising, the Club has grown to operate a 20,000 square foot Club house in the Bathurst and Dupont area and 17 satellite locations in 3 high need communities – Jane and Finch, Weston Mount Dennis and Lawrence Heights – to over 3000 members annually.
The legacy of Camp Genessee
Through the 1960’s and 1970’s the Club sent hundreds of children to Camp Genessee. For many members this became their first outdoor and out of the city experience. The Camp allowed for different types of opportunities for programming skill development for Club members such as canoeing, crafts and orienteering.
Camp Genessee was owned by the Executive Director of St. Alban’s and when he moved on so did the opportunity for outdoor experiences for Club members.
History of Howland Lake Campground & Camp Wesceneaskin
In the fall of 2018, St. Alban’s bought the campground on Lake Howland in Minden Hills from the Young People’s Union, the youth of the United Church of Canada.
The site was purchased by the youth of the YPU in 1956. They put $10 down as a deposit on the land and, with the assistance of their parents, did the fundraising for the purchase of the land and building of the campground.
The parents and others volunteered their time and worked to get the camp ready – many were contractors, carpenters, plumbers, etc and they donated their time to build the camp. The volunteers and youth were able to learn practical skills and trades on the job while building the camp. The buildings on the campground now were built by this original group.
The first group to use the camp was a group of young Hungarian refugees. The arrived in Quebec and traveled directly to the campground!
Any group could rent the camp and various groups used it over the years, some for multiple summers in a row. Many church groups rented the camp, Parents Without Partners, Parkdale Works Co-Op, and others. The Parkdale Works Co-Op set up a saw mill on the site and they used the lumber to sell as a way to raise money for their organization to help community members off the street and get free from addiction.
The Royal Ontario Museum rented the camp and used a section of the forest on the site to model the ROM’s “hardwood forest” exhibit.
Thank you to Harold Lee and Brian Boyle, YPU volunteers, for sharing this history with us.
With the recent purchase of the campgrounds in the town of Minden Hills, Ontario, we are creating an environmentally focused outdoor wilderness camp dedicated to delivering meaningful and quality outdoor life and leadership skills opportunities for Boys and Girls Club members outside of their communities. Children and youth will enjoy water activities such as swimming, canoeing and kayaking. On land, the children and youth will enjoy activities such as hiking, mountain biking and orienteering.
Join us as we enter this exciting new chapter in the St. Alban’s story.