The origin of our organization is steeped in rich history – feminist history. The Women’s Centre at 83 Military Road was the hub of that great Newfoundland Feminism for decades and the women who worked, organized, researched, served on the board, wrote and took to the streets seeking justice shaped this province.
Within the walls of 83 Military Road the marriage law and the constitution were challenged, the secretary of state’s office was taken by storm, periodicals were written and women found a safe place to organize. We urge you to take a moment to read more about the fascinating history of Newfoundland feminism here.
“Over the years, the Women’s Centre has also housed the Newfoundland Chapter of the Canadian Abortion Rights Action League, Women’s Health Education Project, The St. John’s Rape Crisis and Information Centre, and the committee that founded the province’s first shelter for battered women and their children.”
Since those glory days, we have expanded our programs and moved into our new property at 170 Cashin Avenue Ext which houses The St. John’s Status of Women Council, The Women’s Centre and Marguerite’s Place. We have continued to grow and evolve in response to the needs of the community. We take great pride in the creation of our newest program Safe Harbour Outreach Project (SHOP) which is the first and only sex worker advocacy program in the province.
After a great deal of reflection we decided that it was time to sell 83 Military Road and use the much needed dollars to enhance our existing property (we are bursting at the seams) and programs, hire additional staff to better support women and continue our advocacy work. This morning the icon of Newfoundland feminism sold. A bittersweet moment for all of us.
“The actual purchase of this property is testimony to the dedication of the women involved. The Council had no money, so 20 women were asked to loan $100 each for the down payment. As well, two Council members signed personal guarantees for the mortgage. The extensive renovations needed in the building were carried out by women hired under federal grants to train women for non-traditional trades.”
It was a tremendous testimony to the strength of these women, and it wasn’t easy to make the decision to let it go. What we do know, is that we will continue to honour our history here. Everyday.
And, we would love for you to send us your stories about your time at the Women’s Centre on 83 Military road so that you can help us continue to honour our history.
Inside the St. John’s Women’s Centre, 1998
A writer’s workshop, January 1998.
© 1998, St. John’s Women’s Centre.