History

The Volunteer Bureau of Montreal was founded in 1937 by the Montreal chapter of the Junior League as its Central Volunteer Bureau.

An international women's volunteer association established in New York in 1901 which today has nearly 300 branches in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Mexico, the League's mandate is to improve the quality of life in the community through volunteerism.

During the Second World War, the Bureau developed close links with Women's Voluntary Services, a British organization founded in 1938 and heavily involved in the war effort. The Montreal Bureau adopted the name of its sister organization and it was under this name that it obtained its letters patent in 1947. Ten years later, it became the Volunteer Bureau: volunteering was not just for women!

In 1966 the Volunteer Bureau helped set up the first Meals-on-Wheels group in Montreal. Today its Volunteer Food Services Central Office is responsible for support services to a regional network of a hundred Meals on Wheels groups and Lunch Clubs for seniors.

Having started out primarily serving Montreal's English-speaking population, the Bureau officially became bilingual in 1970. In the early '70s, it was jointly funded by Red Feather and the Fédération des œuvres de charité canadiennes-françaises (FOCCF). In 1974, following the merger of these foundations with others to form Centraide of Greater Montreal, the Bureau became one of the original Centraide agencies.

Over the years, the Bureau set up a local service points which developed into autonomous organizations. These include Volunteer West Island, the Centre d'action bénévole et communautaire Saint-Laurent and the Service bénévole de l'Est de Montréal.

It also helped set up the Elizabeth Fry Society and the Maison Thérèse Casgrain, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Montreal and Citizen Advocacy Montreal (Parrainage civique), and took part in the organization of the first national Volunteer Week.

In 2012, the Volunteer Bureau of Montreal celebrated its 75th anniversary and was received the Prix Hommage bénévolat-Québec and Centraide of Greater Montreal's Agnes C. Higgins Award.  The VBM also managed the Christmas Index, a Montreal tradition begun in 1919, from 1969 through 2013.

 


 

Volunteer Bureau of Montreal locations over the years

The VBM has moved several times since its founding in 1937. Here's the list of its different addresses:

  • 1937-1940: Offices of the Junior League of Montreal
  • 1940-1955: Sun Life Building, Dominion Square, Room 128
  • 1955-1969: Prince of Wales Terrace (north side of Sherbrooke Street between McTavish and Peel, site now occupied by McGill University's Bronfman Building)
  • 1969-1977: 2015 Drummond Street, Suite 900
  • 1977-1981: 1224 St. Catherine Street West, Suite 800
  • 1981-1993: 1246 Bishop Street
  • 1993-2003: 235, rue Saint-Jacques, Old Montreal
  • Since 2003: back to 2015 Drummond Street, this time Suite 300!