Founded by the directorate of the Montreal Boys' Home in 1907 as a special project for the treatment of delinquent, anglophone boys, Shawbridge Youth Centres has since acquired an international reputation for the quality of its differential treatment programs and its innovative approaches in the area of community treatment alternatives.
The following year saw the completion of the first building on the original 250 acres of arable land in the Laurentian foothills, some 40 miles north of Montreal. Designed to include essential kitchen facilities, a mini school and storerooms, this building also accommodated 32 boys. In the spring of 1909 Shawbridge was prepared to open its doors to the first clients, a group of boys from the Sherbrooke Jail, followed shortly there- after by a group from the Roman Catholic Reformatory in Montreal.
Expansion and treatment development continued. By 1930 the Boys' Farm and Training School was known in Canada as the pioneer in the establishment and development of family-group plan treatment. Cottages now housed 25 boys supervised by a set of parents. Activities ranged from formal education, cadet corps and sports to farming. The boys' participation in the latter resulted in prize winning cattle and successful crop harvests.
Provincial legislation was passed in 1950 establishing Social Welfare Courts and Youth Protection Schools. The resultant effect was that the Boys' Farm now changed status to a Youth Protection School and increased the age range of its clients to include boys from 7 to 18 years of age. This legislation forced the agency to accept referrals of cases not previously included in the mandate and included battered children requiring residential care, run-away youth, and even handicapped youngsters.
The turbulent sixties brought bigger change to the Boys' Farm. Apart from a radical modification in acceptance policy limiting type and number of referrals, the use of differential treatment programs was initiated. The staffing pattern in the cottages was altered to that of a child-care model and the number of youngsters per unit reduced to 12.
A focus on de-institutionalization with corresponding expansion of services into the community came in the early seventies. At the request of the Ministry of Social Affairs girls were admitted into the Shawbridge system. This new mandate led, in 1977, to the change in name from The Boys' Farm and Training School to Shawbridge Youth Centres - as it was known until the early 1990's. Apart from the obvious need to reflect a co-educational population in the name, the agency wished to be recognized as a multi- service organization.
In the 1980's and early 1990's, Shawbridge Youth Centres was comprised of a residential treatment facility on an expansion (1800 acres) of the original 250 acres in the Laurentians, four group homes and three community residences located throughout the Montreal area, a centrally located Project Centre for day care programs and a Montreal based administration building. A staff of 250 regular employees provide residential and community services to 227 youngsters. Other services offered at the time included case work, vocational counselling, transitional workshop and a school program.
1n 1993, Shawbridge merged with Ville-Marie Social Service Centre, Youth Horizons and Mount St-Patrick Youth Centre to form Batshaw Youth and Family Centres.