History
History

History

An informal meeting of the Committee and one or two others interested in the neighbourhood
house for Central Toronto is called for Friday evening of this week at 8 o’clock at the home of
Mr. J.J. Kelso, 21 Prince Arthur Avenue: A.H.Burnett, Sec. (Toronto 10th May, 1911)

 

About : History

Founded in 1911, Central Neighbourhood House is the second oldest settlement house in Toronto. It owes its beginnings to University of Toronto students who, along with popular social reformer John Joseph Kelso, were interested in improving conditions in Toronto for recent arrivals to the city, many of whom were living in poor conditions in the downtown area. These dedicated individuals formed a committee to develop the aims of the settlement house which were heavily rooted in creating a democractic meeting place and a social centre where neighbours of all ages, races and religious affiliations could contribute equally.

On September 18, 1911 CNH opened in a narrow three storey brick house at 84 Gerrard Street West. In the very first years of its existence - under the incredible leadership of Elizabeth Neufeld, the first Head Worker - CNH offered a large array of programs and activities. Monthly attendance was often over 2000 neighbours. There were several clubs and activities for children – both before and after-school – as well as a music school and night school classes teaching English, arithmetic and dressmaking. A highlight of the early years was the annual Spring Festival in which children from CNH performed folk dances.

The physical location of CNH has changed several times over the last 100 years in response to either economic or facility concerns or to allow it to expand its services. CNH had three different homes between 1911 and 1929 when it moved to 349 Sherbourne Street. It remained there until 1970 and continued to offer a place for neighbours from school age to their senior years.

Our current facility at 349 Ontario Street was officially opened on December 5, 1970. This is the only facility to have housed CNH that was built specifically for that purpose. Within its walls, we have a terrific gym, full kitchen facilities as well as several program and activity rooms.

Today, we are a diverse and talented group of nearly 300 staff and 700 volunteers. We are dedicated to engaging with our community to build a just society, while offering a wide range of high quality programs and services to our neighbours.

To learn more about our history, check out some of the material in our 100th Anniversary section of this website.

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