The International Sailors' Society’s presence in Canada began in 1907 when the Rev. J. Wheeler of the British Sailors’ Society in London arrived to work with loggers and sailors in Vancouver. On July 26th, 1949 the Society became an autonomous body under Dominion Charter.
For many years the Society operated its own seafarers’ centres in ports across Canada, providing ship visiting, accommodation, canteen services, library and writing facilities, social programmes, compassionate care and spiritual counselling to visiting seafarers.
However, by the 1970s, for a variety of reasons, there was a gradual closing of ISSC branches and the Society became a support agency providing annual grants to other seafarer centres. When new facilities were needed, particularly in smaller ports, the Society was able to offer advice, encouragement and financial assistance.
The Society’s purpose is to ensure that a safe and welcoming environment is available to seafarers visiting Canadian ports. To meet this commitment the Society seeks to sustain and augment the financial base which provides the income for its Grants Programme. In recent years the Society has organised a series of fundraising activities, the proceeds from which have been used to augment our Grants Programme.
Over the past 35 years ISSC has contributed over $800,000 to fifteen centres, which help maintain the high quality of services provided by their dedicated staff and volunteers.