Come In Out of the Cold: Winter Weather Strategy for the Homeless

For the past 128 years—winter, spring, summer and fall—the Old Brewery Mission has been providing vital services to all those who knock at its door. With the arrival of the cold weather, the Mission has implemented its winter protocol, effective December 1st, consisting of exceptional emergency measures ensuring that every Montrealer has a warm, safe place to sleep at night.

Shuttle Service

The shuttle bus, at the heart of the winter protocol, parked outside of the Webster Pavilion.

This year, the shuttle service remains at the heart of the winter protocol. A Mission chauffeur and a counsellor shuttle around the downtown streets Monday to Friday from 2 p.m. to 9 a.m., and weekends from 8 p.m. to 9 a.m., inviting homeless men and women aboard to warm up and travel safely to and from emergency accommodations in the city. The shuttle will also be present each night at the closing of the Bonaventure metro station. Last winter, the shuttle offered 4,259 safe rides.

The Patricia Mackenzie Pavilion is located at 1301 De Maisonneuve Blvd. in Montreal and welcomes women, while the Webster Pavilion at 915 Clark St. accommodates men.

The Mission collaborates closely with public emergency and transportation services, including the SPVM and STM, as well as the other main homeless resources in the community, to ensure the security of all.

Record Number of Meals Served in November

Someone enjoying a nutritious meal in the Saint-Laurent Campus cafeteria.

In addition to its winter protocol, with the Mission’s new emergency response system, homeless men and women no longer have to brave the cold, icy streets of Montreal each day after breakfast. They can stay at the Mission 24/7, with access to a warm shower, laundry services and a locker to store personal items. Close to 35,000 meals were served at the Mission’s Saint-Laurent Campus last month alone—up 10,000 from last year—as a result of these extended hours.

While these enhanced emergency services put an extra strain on the Mission’s limited resources and staff, especially during the cold winter months, they are paying off. According to Matthew Pearce, President and CEO, the Mission is successfully reaching chronically homeless individuals.

“About 5% to 10% of our clients have been using the Mission’s emergency shelter, night after night, for years remaining homelessness due to the absence of better options. Now, our counsellors meet with every single person who comes to our doors; they get to know their name and their story. As a result, people are going from chronically homeless to housed in 5-6 weeks,” he says. “The winter months can be especially stressful for our staff, but these results are highly motivating.”

Montrealers of All Ages Show They Care

Charles, a beneficiary of the Mission, receives a Christmas card made by a student at Willingdon Elementary School.

Every year, individuals and organizations give their time and help collect funds to ensure that homeless men and women can also be warmed by the season’s holiday spirit:

  • Lise Watier held a special holiday dinner with residents and staff of the Lise Watier Pavilion, which is home to 29 previously homeless women.
  • The chef-owner of Restaurant Gus in Petite-Patrie, Dave Ferguson, held the fourth edition of #SocksForBubbly, collecting over 5,000 pairs of socks for the homeless.
  • Some 300 students from Willingdon Elementary School crafted handmade holiday cards for homeless men and women at the Mission.
  • On December 22, the Mayor of Montreal Valérie Plante, will be paying a visit to some 50 homeless women at our Patricia Mackenzie Pavilion (1301 Blvd. De Maisonneuve E.).
  • And on Christmas Day, the Mission will serve up traditional meals with the help of compassionate volunteers, including members of the Chadha Family Foundation.

The Mission relies on the generosity of donors—caring individuals and companies—to fund over 60% of its life-changing programs and services. Now more than ever, it needs your support to get through these winter months. To make a monetary donation, please call Ellen Luu at 514 788-1884, ext. 255 or donate online here.

Appeal to the Public for Donations of Winter Boots

Joaquim, cloakroom supervisor at the Webster Pavilion, distributes clothing to those making a request.

In addition to monetary donations, the Mission always needs warm and clean clothing in good condition, non-perishables and unopened hygiene products. This year, it is especially in need of boots and new, clean underwear for men and women. Homeless men and women will be better equipped to face the winter thanks to you.

To make an in-kind donation, please contact Christopher Quinn, Director of Support Services by e-mail at or by phone at 514 798-2244, ext. 247, or simply drop your donations off at the reception at 915 Clark Street.