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. With the help of local businessmen and various supporters, Mr. McCann acquires land on Mink Lake, near Eganville, Ontario. That year, the downtown clubhouse is closed and McCann and his staff bring 66 boys up to "Minwassin." The benefits to the youth, including getting away from the city, experiencing nature, and building social skills through group living (in tents) 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. In 1937, electrical facilities were installed. During the 1950's sponsorship from the Rotary, Kiwanis, and Lions Clubs allows the Boys Club to build permanent cabins at the camp and the Associated Canadian Travelers (A.C.T.) built a fully equipped medical lodge.
Co-ed programs are established in the late 1970s, 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.
Through the 1980s, the camp continues to grow, serving many children and youth who could not otherwise afford the cost of attending summer camp programs. During the 1990s, an exciting Ropes Course is installed at camp, offering low and high elements that provide superb program options for building trust, teamwork, and encouraging personal growth. Three cabins are also winterized, opening new year-round program and rental options.
In 2001, a brand new Kitchen/Dining Hall is opened. This beautiful, modern facility becomes an excellent focal point for the camp and replaces aging facilities that had served the camp well but no longer met the camp’s expanding needs. The Brian Smith Foundation, established in honour of the late Brian Smith (a local, well-respected sportscaster who attended the club and camp as a youth), also merges with the Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa. In recognition of this important merger and the great support, "Camp Minwassin" is renamed the Brian Smith Outdoor Education Centre and the summer program becomes "Camp Smitty.”
On January 1, 2002, the Ottawa Police Youth Centre merged with the Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa in an effort to reduce costs and eliminate program duplication. The club and the centre management determined that combining their efforts would go a long way in helping Ottawa youth and reducing costs for program provision. Through the more effective use of staff and by sharing resources, they are now creating opportunities for new or expanded programs and enhanced services. Tom Patrick was the Director of the Ottawa Police Youth Centre at the time of the merger, and being a former camper and counsellor at this very camp, was a natural choice as Camp Director in February 2002.