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FST Historical Records – City of Toronto Archives

In 2014, Family Service Toronto marked 100 years as one of the city’s oldest and most vital social service organizations.
FST started as the Neighbourhood Workers Association (NWA) in 1914 when a group of volunteers came together to address the growing levels of poverty faced by many families in the city. See our Celebrating a Century in the City centennial video.

In 1962, NWA changed its name to “Family Service Association of Metropolitan Toronto”. In 2008, the name changed again to Family Service Toronto.
Originally, NWA served as an umbrella organization, bringing together churches and other charitable organizations to co-ordinate the provision of relief to families in need.

The association was instrumental in organizing relief during the influenza epidemic in 1918 and the Great Depression during the 1930s. NWA’s constitution charged the agency with the responsibility to acquire “information regarding the social needs of the community” and promote “the means to meet those needs.”

Today, provides more counselling and community building services than relief, but we are still here for Toronto’s most vulnerable citizens. While our organizational structure and nature of our work has evolved over time, our core values haven’t.


  • Central Council of Neighbourhood Workers Association founded.


  • Frank N. Stapleford becomes the association's first executive director.


  • The Association is incorporated as a corporation on May 12, 1920 under the name "The Neighbourhood Workers Association of Toronto".
  • The Central Office opens at 189 Church Street.


  • Bolton Camp founded as Fresh Air Camp for mothers with small children, boys and girls from low income families.


  • Illahee Camp founded in Cobourg for children with medical handicaps.


  • Illahee begins programming for low-income senior citizens.


  • Frank Stapleford resigns as executive director.
  • The Association becomes one of the funding member agencies of today's United Way


  • A Board/Staff Committee on Social Action is created.


  • Name changed to “Family Service Association of Metropolitan Toronto.


  • FSA merges with North York and Weston Family Service to create one metro-wide service.


  • Bolton Camp rebuilt, partial usage as Bolton Conference Centre.


  • Employee Assistance Program established; becomes full division in 1985.


  • Illahee Camp moves to Drag Lake and is renamed Illahee Northwoods Camp.


  • Senior Support Services is established to provide practical counselling to the aging and their families.
  • Domestic Response Team is established to work with police to respond to after-hours domestic violence calls.


  • Ruth Atkinson Hindmarsh Family Life Lodge opens at Bolton Conference Centre.


  • Families in Transition unit established to serve increasing numbers of separating, divorcing and blended families.


  • FSA introduces Mandated Abuse Program for male batterers convicted of wife assault.


  • Paul Zarnke becomes FSA's sixth executive director


  • FSA awarded status as a Social Work Teaching Centre for the University of Toronto .
  • Adult Protective Service Worker Program transferred to FSA from Centennial College.
  • Campaign 2000 Report Cards (federal and provincial) begin to be issued annually by FSA's Social Action department on status of all-party federal resolution in 1989 to eliminate child poverty by the year 2000.


  • Multicultural Family Violence Prevention (Somali/Iranian) Program begins and Adventure-Based Learning Centre opens at Bolton Camp and Conference Centre.
  • Carver model of governance adopted by FSA Board.


  • Implementation of Multicultural Access Plan. Develop new service partnerships with ethno-cultural and racial communities. Begin Race Relations Training Project to support staff and volunteers through the multicultural organizational change process.


  • The Growing Up Healthy Downtown Project a collaborative FSA partnership program with seven Toronto settlement agencies is founded.
  • FSA chosen by Ministry of Health to establish a Placement Coordination Service which becomes a new division of FSA in 1997 (Community Care Access Centre).
  • Research completed on Successful Family Transitions, Status of Young Families and; Next STEPS program for male batterers.


  • FSA formally recognizes same-sex couples as families.


  • Integration of the Toronto Counselling Centre for Lesbians and Gays to become the David Kelley Gay and Lesbian Community Counselling Services and the David Kelley HIV/AIDS Program.
  • Report on five-year research project, Successful Family Transition: An Evaluation of Intervention Strategies by Families in Transition department.


  • FSA moves from 22/24 Wellesley Street to 355 Church Street .
  • Futures Review establishes vision and values.
  • Counselling Outcome Evaluation launched.
  • FSA pilots the Quality of Life Project for people in families with developmental disabilities.
  • Community Action Team established.


  • Strategic Program Review and Task Force on Funding Capital Purchases. Decision to sell Bolton property. New Strategic Plan approved by FSA Board.


  • Implementation of Strategic Plan, which clusters service units into six strategic program units.


  • Sale of 279-acre portion of Bolton Camp to Toronto Montessori Schools, and 60-acre portion to Camp Villas (development company).


  • Developmental Services unit is consolidated, integrating the former Case Management Unit and IQOL pilot project (now permanent). Options becomes one of the six Strategic Program Units.
  • FSA participates, with other partners, in Learn$ave, a national demonstration project to help low-income Canadians save for education, training or starting a small business through special savings accounts matched by government dollars.


  • Paul Zarnke, Executive Director, leaves FSA in December, after 13 years of service.


  • FSA opens an office in Scarborough. The Violence Against Women program and the Community Action Unit are its main tenants.
  • Yves Savoie commences as the new Executive Director in August.
  • FSA launches its Access and Equity Plan.


  • New Strategic Directions approved by Board of Directors.
  • FSA launches Breaking the Silence: Best Practices for Responding to the Abuse of Older Adults, a first-of its kind manual.
  • Illahee Lodge program closes.
  • FSA begins work addressing Homelessness through 138 Pears Avenue project.


  • FSA ends community action work with Former Yugoslavian community.
  • Agency begins pilot of New Directions program for women who have experienced the loss of an intimate life partner.
  • Illahee property sold.
  • Community Action Unit renamed Community and Neighbourhood Development
  • Holiday Hamper program relaunched as Gift C.A.R.D. program


  • FSA Toronto wins first Immigrant Success Award from Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council
  • Yves Savoie, Executive Director, leaves FSA in December. Kelley Myers is named Interim Executive Director.
  • FSA Toronto participates in ground-breaking three parent case as an intervener in support of the plaintiff.


  • Margaret Hancock named Executive Director in March, begins work in July.
  • FST named designated agency for the Toronto Region to administer Ontario Government's Passport Initiative for young adults with developmental disabilities.


  • Family Service Association of Toronto changes its name to Family Service Toronto.


  • FST launches “If I’d Only Known” project addressing family violence in immigrant communities.
  • C2000 marks 20 years since the 1989 all party resolution to end child poverty with activities across the country.
  • FST becomes the lead agency in Toronto for the new Person Directed Planning Initiative.
  • FST launches the Individualized Seniors Support Program based on the successful Options model.


  • FST is one of seven organizations that provides services from United Way's new Victoria Park community hub in the city's east end.


  • Brochures addressing family violence are published for newcomer communities in six languages at conclusion of If I Had Only Known project.
  • New initiative "Healthy Families, Healthy Communities" begins to support community peer leaders working with newcomers on family violence issues.
  • Tenant support at low-income housing units expands to include new buildings on Sudbury Street and Ossington Avenue.


  • FST begins offering free Walk-In Counselling on Wednesdays


  • FST celebrates a century in the city.


  • FST relocates its downtown Church Street administrative and counselling offices to Sterling Road in the city's west end while the Church Street site is redeveloped until late 2017.

Programs and Services

Programmes en Français
Appointments and Frequently Asked Questions
Campaign 2000
Caring for Caregivers
Families in Transition
Growing Up Healthy Downtown
Healthy Families. Healthy Communities
Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse
Options – Adults
Options – Children
Partner Assault Response
Partner Contact
Pat’s Place
Person Directed Planning
Seniors and Caregivers
Seniors Community Connections
Social Action
Transitional and Housing Support
Violence Against Women
Single Session Walk-In Counselling