History

We've grown from a humble shelter to a complex residential care home and specialized mental health unit.

The Grey Sisters

Marguerite Youville, founder of the Grey Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, was born in 1701 in the Quebec village of Varennes. Despite a life marked by trials and sadness, she devoted herself to charitable works. She served the needy with humility, gentleness and compassion, reaching out to the poor, outcast, sick, elderly and orphaned. Marguerite Youville was canonized by the Church on December 9, 1990.

After Marguerite’s death in 1771, the Grey Sisters moved beyond Montreal, carrying with them Marguerite’s selfless spirit as they worked to take care of the poor and homeless. In Vancouver during the Great Depression, the need for such support was great. Vancouver’s Archbishop William Duke sent a request to the Grey Sisters to come and open a home for elderly and destitute men on “Skid Row.”

A History Serving Those in Need

Four Grey Sisters arrived in Vancouver on September 11, 1931, and took up residence at 853 East Pender Street. Within a short time, 15 needy men were admitted to the new residence, which was named St. Vincent’s Shelter. During the hard years that followed, long lines of hungry and homeless men were served hot meals and given clothes and other necessities as the shelter’s work grew.

In 1942 a new wing and chapel were added to the shelter, providing accommodation for an additional 51 men. Included in the construction were a dormitory and dining room for transients. After the original Downtown Eastside location became too small to handle the increasing community needs, a 152-bed Youville Residence was opened in 1969 on the corner of 33rd Avenue and Heather Street.

Residential and Mental Health Services

To this day, the residence and its staff strive to be the contemporary expression of Marguerite’s spirit of charity within the community. Youville currently operates as a complex residential care home to 42 residents and a specialized unit serving 37 older adult mental health clients.