Have you heard? Sun Youth just turned 65! The organization was founded in 1954 by 13 year-old Sid Stevens and 9 year-old Earl De La Perralle. With a few of their friends, they created The Clark Street Sun, a hand-written community newspaper that was lent to families in their underprivileged neighbourhood of The Main at 2 cents a copy. The kids would use the profit to organize sports and recreation activities for their peers and to purchase equipment. Over the next six decades and a half, the organization would evolve into what it is today. Here are a few milestones of the organization from the last 65 years.
In May 1954, the organization starts in the kitchen of Sid Stevens’ parents. The first hand-written copies of the Clark Street Sun are produced there. They make $500 profits in their first year of existence. The kids get their first break when Weiner Shoemaker of St. Cuthbert Street lends them the back store of his shop. The paper would eventually change its name to The Sun (the organization henceforth known as The Sun – Youth Organization).
In 1958, the first basketball team is created with Earl De La Perralle as one of its player (the team would expand in 1961 with Earl as their coach).
In 1967, then-Mayor of Montreal Jean Drapeau allows for Sun Youth to move its headquarters into the white house at the corner of Park and Mont-Royal. More space means that the organization can develop more initiatives to help the community, such as its assistance program to fire victims.
In 1981, Sun Youth moves to its former headquarters of St. Urbain Street (the old Baron Byng High School). It is also the year the organization creates its food bank, the first in Montreal and the second in Canada after Edmonton’s the previous year.
In 1984, Sun Youth creates its first-ever Bike Patrol and Avi Morrow, the anonymous Mr. Bike Man, allows Sun Youth do reward deserving children with new bicycles for the first time.
In 1991, Sun Youth signs an agreement with the Montreal Police to be the sole manager of rewards offered by anonymous donors and through the police to find wanted criminals or missing persons.
Many other events would mark the organization’s history in the following years, such as its first Day Camp in 1993, 1998’s infamous Ice Storm, Haiti’s earthquake in 2010. A new page was turned for the organization in June 2018 when cofounded Earl De La Perralle sadly passed away.
If you have memories and stories about Sun Youth from its 65 years of existence, the organization invites you to share them on its social media pages such as Facebook and Instagram with hashtag #sunyouth65 .
Feature image: The Clark Street Sun basketball team, circa 1960, featuring Earl De La Perralle (front row, 1st on the left) and Sid Stevens (holding the basketball). Photo: Sun Youth archives.