Looking back at 90 years of FSGV

FSGV is is thrilled to be celebrating our 90 year anniversary this year. For the past 90 years, we have addressed the changing needs of individuals and families across the Lower Mainland, and continue to provide support to thousands of people in the community.

Here’s a look at our milestones through the decades:


In 1927, a survey of BC child welfare services recommends the establishment of a family agency. A group of citizens, led by Dr. G.F. Strong, found the agency with a goal of strengthening family life in the community through social services, community planning, educational activities and programs, professional education for social work, and social research.

The agency opens on February 15 in Vancouver as the Central Welfare Bureau. Its first executive director is Ms. Mary McPhedran, who stays in the role for 27 years.

The first donation to the agency is a second-hand car sold for $25. The agency starts off with 1 case worker.


The agency and other community leaders establish a graduate school of Social Work at the University of British Columbia. The agency changes its name to Family Welfare Bureau. The first district office opens in North Vancouver. Supervised Homemaker Service, where “substitute mothers” prepare meals, provide child care, and clean houses when ill mothers can’t, is added to the agency’s services.


The outbreak of World War II leads to more services including assistance for low-income families, visiting homemakers, legal aid and counselling for parents, families and kids. The agency operates in 5 areas within Metro Vancouver.


The agency grows to employ 26 case workers. The name changes to Family Service Agency of Greater Vancouver.  The tagline becomes “all happy families resemble one another.”


The agency participates in a four-year demonstration project for services to older persons sponsored by the Family Services Association of America and financed by the Ford Foundation. Decentralization of the agency’s services place caseworkers in various locations throughout the city, and plans are underway to move from the Community Chest building to a place more centrally located for service throughout Greater Vancouver.


The agency starts offering counselling services in New Westminster and Surrey as well as providing drug and alcohol programs in Burnaby and Vancouver and establishing the Employee Assistance program.


The agency establishes The Children Affected by Family Violence program and opens a Youth Safehouse. The safehouse provides a safe place for youth facing homelessness, while Dusk to Dawn, which serves youth at risk of homelessness, opens later in the decade. The Domestic Violence Unit and Domestic Violence Response Teams operate in partnership with Vancouver and New Westminster police departments. The newly opened Adoption Agency finalizes its first local adoption.


FSGV receives three three-year accreditations from CARF (Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities). Directions Youth Centre opens and begins providing 24/7 services for homeless youth in the city. The Domestic Violence elder abuse program is established as well as a new Family Violence program.


Join us in celebrating 90 years of Family Services of Greater Vancouver on October 24 at our Speakeasy Soirée at the Terminal City Club. We’ll have live music, entertainment, silent and live auctions as well as international wines and cocktails. 80+ programs will benefit from the funds raised at this exciting cocktail-style event. Buy tickets Speakeasy Soirée and cheers to 90 more years of FSGV!