Maplegate House


The Women’s Crisis Centre was formed as a shelter for abused women in July of 1982. Previous to this date, the police would bring the women and their dependents to a designated volunteer’s home and they would drive them to the Sault Ste. Marie shelter. This shelter, then called the Women’s Crisis Centre, was housed out of the Captain Kidd building also known as the Sault College on Mississauga Ave. It was a 2 bedroom apartment that was facilitated by volunteers such as Rita Harten who was the Coordinator. Contact was made through the local police or St. Joseph’s Hospital. Our five founding board members recognized the need to have a local shelter and were integral in the formation of this agency. These members included Doug Strong, Roger Denis, Kathy McCarty, Linda Wilkins and Marion Kennedy. The annual budget that was raised to support this service was $95,000. 

In those times, the uranium mines were active and Elliot Lake was booming as a result of the mining industry. There were close to 30,000 people living in the community at the time, and abused women needed a safe haven that they could access readily. The shelter was later incorporated under the charitable umbrella of the Elliot Lake Women’s Group on December 11 of 1987, in order to secure core funding from the Ministry of Community of Social Services. This was initiated so that the shelter could move from the rental space on McLaren Crescent in the new subdivision, to a permanent facility that could house 10 beds. These board members advocated avidly to source out permanent funding for this service in East Algoma. These members included Douglas Strong, Linda Mills, Rachel McCord, Gina Lafreniere, Rev. Collin Swan and Brenda Jewel-Squires.

This devoted board was successful in not only securing core funding, but also purchased a permanent home at 185 Mississauga Ave. that could be converted into a 10 bed shelter. This building was purchased from Christian Horizons and originally was built as a bunk house for minors. Cantech Construction Ltd. was awarded a contract for $244,250.00 from a tendering process in June 1990, to construct an addition with an emergency exit from the top floor and to renovate the building into a 10 bed shelter.

To this day, the Elliot Lake Women’s Group Inc. is still the charitable umbrella under which the Maplegate brand falls. Our programs and services include the Maplegate House for Women (shelter) as well as various outreach and transitional services that we offer to residents and community members within Elliot Lake and surrounding areas. 

In years past, the Elliot Lake Women’s Group Inc. operated “Phoenix Rising,” a drop-in centre. This centre served as a resource building and was located in the core of our community. Here, women and community members could spend time learning more about our effort to end domestic abuse, or they could find resources that would help them move toward the personal change they wanted to achieve. Phoenix Rising is no longer in operation, but the existing staff and board of the Elliot Lake Women’s Group Inc. felt the need to bring back the community presence that Phoenix Rising once provided. So, on March 8th of 2007, we unveiled and launched our new Maplegate brand. We wanted to move in a new direction – to remove the crisis from what we do (our Maplegate House for Women was formerly known as the Women’s Crisis Centre) and from how we’re known. We also wanted to remove the label of victim from women, recognizing that it was the partner’s behaviour that was responsible and needed to change, not the woman’s. Our new brand was more conducive to various elements in our action plan; we worked towards increasing public education strategies and transforming attitudes. We encouraged community members to help us achieve change and stop the violence before it actually happened. Thus, our overall image changed in order to meet the needs of our clientele and to reflect a more inclusive, community based attitude.

In 2009, we began a comprehensive renewal and creation stage for the organization once again. Over 6 years, we avidly applied for extra funding to renovate the facility to AODA standards for the parking lot and entire first floor of the building including all exits and ramps. In addition, we renovated the kitchen, replaced the fence, update the security system and fixed the persistent sewer system issues on the property. We were successful in attaining over $300,000 for updates and renovations to the building to make it accessible according to new legislation.

In 2013, we changed to a harm reduction model of care, to provide maximum inclusiveness for all women requiring our services. We were inspired by the words of Joe Chopra, “Inclusion is an attitude, an embrace, a welcoming-whoever you are, however you look, where ever you are from: you belong”. This change enabled us to offer an enhanced range of support services and strategies to enhance the knowledge, skills, resources, and supports for individuals, families and communities to be safer and healthier. Harm reduction includes policies, programs and practices that aim to keep women safe and minimize death, disease, and injury from high risk behaviour, especially psychoactive substance use. A harm reduction model also recognizes that these behaviours are often a result of the power and control dynamics of an abusive relationship.

Additionally, in 2014, we also added a trauma informed care approach to all of our services and supports throughout the organization. We are committed to provide services in a manner that is welcoming and appropriate to the special needs of those affected by trauma and creates a space conducive to healing and growth. 

We are community members who are dedicated to providing advocacy and support to women and children. We believe that women and children have the right to freedom from abuse, violence and oppression. We support all women and children with care and compassion, empowering them to make informed choices to define their own lives.