Young Men’s Christian Association, a movement dedicated to meet human needs, is a result of the Industrial Revolution in England which forced thousands abandoning the countryside for better living in the city. Britain was plagued with the many ills and human suffering caused by sudden rise in immigrants in London. It was the worst affected city, there being no agency to take care of the people.
Amongst many migrants George Williams came to London in 1841 looking for employment and worked as an assistant in the drapery establishment of M/s Hitchcocks and Rogers. Later he married Hitchcock’s daughter Helen and took over proprietorship of the firm after Hitchcock died. During the days of his struggle he formed a group of 12 young men coming from different Protestant denominations, three each from the Methodist, Independent, Presbyterian and the Church of England, to take care of the spiritual and human needs of young men who came from rural Britain to find a living in the oppressive conditions of urban society. It was in George William’s room that twelve young men met on 6 June, 1844 to form a society for improving the spiritual conditions of young men engaged in drapery and other trades. Two weeks later the society was given a new name “The Young Men’s Christian Association”
In the summer of 1851, the London YMCA took advantage of the Great Industrial Exhibition held at the Crystal Palace, London and made the Y-concept known to the visitors by distributing tracts and other information. The visitors, who came from all over the world, took the idea to their countries and that is how the first American YMCA took birth on December 29, 1851 and the Montreal YMCA was founded on 25 November, 1851 as the first Canadian YMCA.