Service Alerts

Visit your neighbourhood library branch for programs, meeting space, borrowing and more.
Free, fun programs for your family over the holidays!
Has your Library Card expired?

London's Oldest Organization for Women?

Ms. Ellen H Gregston (1831-1923)

140 years ago on March 15th, 1875, nine women met in Judge William Elliott's chambers to sign the papers for the Act of Incorporation of the Women's Christian Association of London whose first meeting was held on May 7th, 1874. 

The Association was formed to provide relief for the poor and needy, to house the friendless girl and her child and to visit the sick in the hospital. Mrs. Ellen H. Gregston (1831-1923) was the association's first president. 

From February 1st to March 31st, 1875, members of the association operated a soup kitchen on the Market Square.  In September 1876, the Association opened a Women's Refuge and Infants' Home on Grey Street. 

In 1879, the Grey Street property was exchanged for a house at 190 St. James Street at the corner of St. George where the home remained until the Salvation Army opened its Rescue Home (later known as Bethesda Hospital) at the southwest corner of Riverview Avenue and Wharncliffe Road in 1895. 

A Home for Aged Women opened on April 29th, 1886 on the southwest corner of King and Waterloo streets with three residents.  This was the nucleus for the McCormick Home.  In May 1894, a building was leased at the southwest corner of Egerton Street and Hamilton Road as a home for incurables with two patients. 

This was the beginning of Parkwood Hospital. The Women's Christian Association still exists today.   


Ms. Ellen H Gregston (1831-1923)

Ellen H. Gregsten, Women's Christian Association of London

Local Council of Women London, 1893-1937:  Res Gestae Mulierum (Deeds of Women).  1937, p. 49.