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223 - 12 Avenue SW, Calgary, Alberta, T2R, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1980/11/26

Young Women's Christian Association (Y.W.C.A.) Building, Calgary (circa 1911); Glenbow Archives, NC-24-13
North and east elevations
Old Y.W.C.A. Building Provincial Historic Resource, Calgary (February 2006); Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch, 2006
North elevation
No Image

Other Name(s)

Young Women's Christian Association Building
Old YWCA Building
Old "Y"
YWCA Building
Old "Y" Centre
Old Y. W. C. A.

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2006/03/29

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Old Y.W.C.A. is a three-storey red brick and sandstone building situated on three lots in Calgary's Beltline district. Constructed between 1910 and 1911, the building embodies the Georgian Revival style of architecture and features a hip roof, dentillated eaves, symmetrical front facade, and a prominent entrance sheltered by a porch.

Heritage Value

The heritage value of the Old Y.W.C.A. Building lies in its association with the establishment of the Young Women's Christian Association (Y.W.C.A.) in Alberta, a prominent social institution in urban development of Alberta. It also possesses heritage value for its impressive Georgian Revival architecture.

The Y.W.C.A. was established in Calgary in 1907 to address the housing needs of single women new to the city. Initially the organization rented a home for its activities; in 1909, the Y.W.C.A. purchased land for a building and began excavation. Construction began the following year and was completed in 1911. It was the first Y.W.C.A. built in Alberta. Initially operating as a hostel, the new building eventually incorporated space for various social and educational activities, including language classes, services for immigrants, and instructions on casting a ballot after women gained the vote. Programs offered through the Y.W.C.A. stressed social uplift through spiritual, cultural, and physical development. As in many urban areas in Alberta, the Y.W.C.A. played an integral role in helping young, single women adjust to the demands of city life.

The Old Y.W.C.A. building is an excellent and early example of a sandstone and brick structure built in the Georgian Revival architectural style. The building manifests this style most clearly in its symmetrical front facade and strong emphasis upon a prominent, central entrance featuring both sidelights and fanlight. Other elements of the style include the building's multi-pane sash windows, porch, and eaves ornamented with dentils.

Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch (File: Des. 942)

Character-Defining Elements

The character-defining elements of the Old Y.W.C.A. Building include such features as:
- mass, form, scale, and style;
- hip roof featuring central pediment with dentils and chimneys with decorative detailing;
- entablature, cornices on the upper floor and second storey, and dentillated eaves;
- red brick facade and sandstone quoins, sills, pilasters, keystones, string courses and decorative inlays;
- rough-faced sandstone foundation;
- arched front entrance with decorative pillars and detailing;
- fenestration pattern and style, including symmetrical arrangement and multi-pane sashed windows;
- inset sandstone with "YMCA" and "1910" set in relief;
- ground floor porch supporting second storey balcony;
- metal fire-escape on west elevation;
- original interior elements, including the U-shape plan with central corridor on the second and third floors, and window trim;
- entrance foyer stair with balustrade and railing details;
- large meeting room in the southeast corner of the main floor with wall and ceiling wood details.




Recognition Authority

Province of Alberta

Recognition Statute

Historical Resources Act

Recognition Type

Provincial Historic Resource

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Building Social and Community Life
Religious Institutions
Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Architecture and Design

Function - Category and Type



Religion, Ritual and Funeral
Religious Institution

Architect / Designer

David S. McIlroy


Richard Brocklebank

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch, Old St. Stephen's College, 8820 - 112 Street, Edmonton, AB T6G 2P8 (File: Des. 942)

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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