About us

Our history

On January 30th 1971, Tel-Aide received its first calls in a listening centre set up in the Atwater library. This resulted from an initiative of Ian Stuchberry, the Anglican pastor of Christ Church Cathedral, with the help of several of his loyal parishioners. From the very beginning, Tel-Aide offered a service with the objective to operate 24/7, both in English and in French.

Although the end of the 60s was a time of deep divisions in the Montreal community, both anglophones and francophones, clergy from different denominations, and lay people combined to establish a listening service for those in trouble. They all recognised that loneliness was a significant problem in a society where communication was often difficult, and wanted to create a means whereby any lonely person could reach an attentive and respectful ear.

Among those involved in the project were Victoria Shipton, director of the Christian Research Centre at St. Patrick’s Church; sister Dolores Riopel, who represented the francophone side of the project; Albert Menard, responsible for communications at Radio-Canada, and Marcel Boileau, responsible for public relations at Bell Canada. The latter two undertook to publicize Tel-Aide and to attract volunteers to the organization.

The Toronto Crisis Centre provided the initial training, but, later, it was the volunteers themselves who chose new listeners, and provided the basic training, support and continuing education for them.

The name « Tel-Aide » arose during a discussion amongst the founding members. « Tel » is the abbreviation for « telephone », both in English and in French, and the combination with « Aide » served to illustrate the mission of the new organization : to offer an empathetic, authentic and respectful ear to those who call.