The YMCA of McGill University was founded by a group of McGill students in 1887 and, with the support of Lord Strathcona, obtained a provincial charter in 1904 (see PDF below). Its purpose was the promotion of religion and morality in the McGill community. In 1928, the work of the YMCA in Canadian universities was taken over by the Student Christian Movement of Canada. Today, the McGill Chaplaincy Services still serves the students of McGill as a drop-in center where they can meet for spiritual advice and companionship.
In the late 1960s, the Yellow Door Coffeehouse grew out of an initiative of the Student Christian Movement and was staffed by local artists and provided a showcase for music and poetry. The Coffeehouse also played an active role in the community, and between 1967 and 1971, a lunch program served meals to war resistors, students, the elderly and itinerant persons. From 1970 to 1972, in response to the counterculture drug scene, a drop-in psychiatric clinic was set up and Douglas Hospital doctors counseled youth with drug addictions. As the longest-running coffeehouse in Canada, the Yellow Door Coffeehouse has become a landmark while remaining a lively folk music and spoken word venue.
In 1972, the current Generations program was started as the result of a Local Initiatives Projects grant that was used by a group of McGill students to conduct a door-to-door survey of the elderly residing in the community.
The program has been maintained with the help of grants from Centraide, the Quebec government and the generosity of private individuals and corporations. Today, our coordinators and more than 250 volunteers serve close to 300 older adults in the downtown Montreal area.
In the continuing spirit of community service, the Yellow Door has fostered various other projects, including several current initiatives: a food cooperative for students in temporary financial difficulty; a collective kitchen known as the Rabbit Hole Café; and fieldwork placement for students in nursing, social work, religious studies, physiotherapy and occupational therapy, among others.