Yonge Street Mission Timeline

From its humble beginnings in 1896 with a horse-drawn “Gospel Wagon,” Yonge Street Mission (YSM) has faithfully served the people of Toronto with compassion and dignity, helping those in need to turn their lives around. We’ve grown with our city, and adapted to its changing needs.

Today we offer 100 programs and services. We reach out to street-involved youth, lonely seniors, families of recent immigrants who face a bewildering new culture, and others seeking help to achieve their full potential. This glimpse into over 100 years of history tells the story of our rich heritage, from its first days distributing bread and milk to hungry immigrants to its current role as a safe place for the city’s most vulnerable.

1849 June 29

Founder John Coolidge Davis is born.


1896 The Mission begins

The Mission starts with a “Gospel Wagon” that hands out food and clothing, and progresses to a rented storefront on Yonge Street.

Yonge Street Mission gets its name.

1900 Winter generosity

When resources were weaning, a generous donor promised
them all the coal they could use.

A stranger donated 6,000 loaves of bread and provided 50 gallons of milk each day for the rest of the winter. He also soon delivered cartloads of potatoes, beans, cornmeal, flour, and even financial support.


The Mission is relocated to rented premises at Yonge and Shuter streets.

1904 The move to 381 Yonge

Through the kindness of friends, a new building is purchased at 381 Yonge Street. (seen on left)

The new space has a kitchen and clothes room, and a seating capacity of 500.

The original beams on the ceiling are still in tact at the building today.

1914 Yonge Street Mission is incorporated.

1921 YSM is protected from harm in the great fire

The shrieks of terror-stricken women aroused the neighbourhood at Yonge and Gerrard Streets in the early-morning hours of January 28, 1921. The great Forum Building was a raging inferno of fire, and the shrieks were of people who had barely managed to escape, while the much smaller YSM building was untouched.

The Mission, instead of going about a rescue operation for itself, was open for business with coffee and sandwiches for the men who worked so hard. To a man, they wanted to save the Mission.

1929 The Great Depression hits

Yonge Street Mission feeds and clothes thousands of people, going through 5,600 beef sandwiches, 80 gallons of tea and 26 gallons of milk a day.


An office building on Victoria Street is purchased to serve as the first Youth Centre, linked to the main building by a tunnel. It remained in use until 1966 and is now property of Ryerson University.


Yonge Street Mission Youth Centre opens.


Land is purchased at Gerrard and Berkeley Streets for the site of the new Youth Centre.


Christian Youth Centre opens at Parliament and Berkeley Streets.


A coffee house opens at 381 Yonge Street to attract the increasing numbers of young people visiting the Mission.

1979 Evergreen launches

381 Yonge Street is renamed Evergreen.


Evergreen begins to focus on the needs of street-involved youth. Programs are tailored to this group of young people.


Hallelujah’s Muffin & Coffee Emporium opens, providing employment and job skills training for street-involved youth. (seen on left)

1989 Rick Tobias

Renovated drop-in cafeteria is reopened in Evergreen’s basement. Rick Tobias is appointed Executive Director.

1987 Church On The Street

Church on the Street officially opens.

Rev. Bill Ryan founding pastor.


YSM begins its housing ministry, in cooperation with the City of Toronto’s Singles Housing Opportunities Program (SHOP). Two homes are opened, each accommodating five adults.

1991 Genesis Place

Official opening of Genesis Place, a 26-unit supportive housing facility. (seen on left)


Counselling branch opens in the Christian Community Centre.

1994 Health Centre Opens

Official opening of Health Centre at Evergreen, offering free medical care and referrals, dental care, eye examinations and glasses, health education and chiropractic services for street-involved youth.

1996 YSM’s 100th Anniversary

Yonge Street Mission celebrates its 100th anniversary helping the poor in downtown Toronto.

1998 Evergreen Employment opens

Evergreen Employment Resource Centre opens, providing job search, peer mentoring, employment readiness and life skills workshops.

1998 CATM Opens

Church at the Mission, a branch of YSM, opens. Original Church at the Mission worship team pictured on left.

1999 The 310 Centre opens

Official opening of the 310 Centre that houses the Double Take thrift store and the TD Securities Computer Literacy Centre.

2003 Strategic Partnerships

Partnering with YSM, the Royal Bank opens a Cash & Save branch in the 310 Centre.

2004 YSM’s Christian Community Centre is re-opened

Official re-opening of the renovated and expanded Christian Community Centre.

There is also a celebration of 100 years of service at 381 Yonge Street.

2009 H. B. Martin Family helps YSM open 306 Gerrard

H. B. Martin Family Centre for Urban Education opens at 306 Gerrard St. E.

2010 YSM’s First Satellite office opens

St. James Town, site of YSM’s first satellite office, opens its doors at 225 Wellesley St. E.


2013 June 1

On June 1st, Angie Drakovic is appointed as President & CEO of The Yonge Street Mission