In 1923, the Ottawa Boys Club is opened on Laurier Avenue and Fred C. McCann, a social worker from Montreal, is appointed as Executive Director.
In 1924, "Camp Minwassin" is founded by Mr. McCann on Mink Lake, near Eganville, Ontario. The benefits to the youth, including getting away from the city, experiencing nature, and building social skills through group living are immediately evident, encouraging the continued commitment to the camping experience.
By 1936, approximately 160 boys had the opportunity to spend at least two weeks at the camp, with the club picking up the bulk of the actual cost to attend.
During the 1950's, the Boys Club builds permanent cabins and a fully equipped medical lodge at "Camp Minwassin".
In the late 1970's, co-ed programs are established, cabins for girls are added, and, in 1979, the camp officially becomes co-ed.
In 1980, Special Needs programs begin, offering opportunities for Campers with certain physical, mental, and developmental challenges to be included in the programs and benefit from the camp overall.
During the 1990's, an exciting Ropes Course is installed at camp, offering low and high elements that provide superb program options for trust exercises, teamwork, and personal growth.
In 2001, a brand-new Kitchen/Dining Hall is opened. This beautiful, modern facility becomes an excellent focal point for the camp, alongside the bell… “Ding, Dong”!
Later in 2001, "Camp Minwassin" is renamed the Brian Smith Outdoor Education Centre and the summer program becomes "Camp Smitty.”
In 2002, the Ottawa Police Youth Centre merged with BGC Ottawa to reduce costs and eliminate program duplication. Through the more effective use of Staff and by sharing resources, they are now creating opportunities for new or expanded programs and enhanced services at Camp Smitty!
Brian Smith was a popular CTV Ottawa sportscaster and former NHL hockey player, who met a tragic end, leaving his television studio on his way to speak to the Children’s Wish Foundation in 1995. He attended the Ottawa Boys Club camp, called “Camp Minwassin” at the time, as a 13-year-old and won two Best-Athlete Awards, and the Most Courteous Camper Award. He was also a counselor at the camp.
He was an Ottawa boy who cared deeply about his city and BGC Ottawa, and always thought that kids benefit greatly from having easy access to sports and recreation as he had had as a young person.
BGC Ottawa was always his favourite charity, and the Camp was renamed to Camp Smitty to honour his great contributions to the Ottawa community