Fred Victor’s history can be traced back to 1886 when a pragmatic and visionary woman named Mary Sheffield started a Sunday School for “rough and neglected” boys.
Eight years later, in 1894, manufacturer and financier, Hart Massey a member of the Metropolitan Methodist Church, constructed a building at the corner of Queen and Jarvis streets in Toronto to house the mission that Mary Sheffield had started. He named the mission after his youngest son, Fred Victor.
From the 1930s to the 1960s, Fred Victor Mission was known for its “Mission of the Air”, a church service radio broadcast with Reverend Wesley Hunnisett at the helm, and as a shelter where homeless men could get a meal and a bed for the night.
In the late 1960s, Fred Victor launched a transitional housing project, called the Short Term Community, to provide the stability and privacy that men needed to find employment, get medical attention and overcome addictions.
During the 1980s, Fred Victor advocated for a more equitable society by partnering with other downtown anti-poverty organizations to develop a response to the urgent need for permanent, affordable housing for homeless and low-income people.
In 1988, the short-term men’s hostel in the original building at Queen and Jarvis streets was closed, renovated and reopened as supportive, permanent, shared housing for adults. Since then, we’ve introduced additional programming and services, established Friends Restaurant, opened three other affordable housing buildings, added two emergency shelters, created two drop-in centres and established an employment and training program.
Fred Victor’s programs and services, organizational structure, funding sources and approach to helping others has evolved and changed over the decades. Even our name has changed – from The Fred Victor Mission to today’s Fred Victor. But the core values that inform the organization are the same ones that were at its inception – for everyone to have a home and the opportunity for meaningful participation in society.