Our History

Where We Began

  • In the Late 1970’s

    A small group of Orillians identified a lack of resources for women and children experiencing abuse.

    They promoted community awareness of the issues related to violence and all forms of abuse against women. They were dedicated to providing emergency shelter and full support services for abused women and their children.

  • Barb Green & Marcia Perryman approached the city for support. They received $75 that they added to their own money to rent an apartment for emergency situations.

    These women and many others sheltered women in this safe house, but had to close it due to lack of adequate staff and stable funding.

    Portrait of Barbara Green
  • In the 1980’s

    The Orillia Women’s Advocacy Group (OWAG) for women and children experiencing abuse was established. They began the enormous task of raising funds and support from the community. OWAG began raising funds, applying for government grants, and raising support for women and children experiencing abuse.

  • They chose the name Project Haven when the federal government announced funding.

    Project Haven funding application was rejected by the federal government. The group could not receive charitable status as an advocacy group, as they were not yet incorporated. It wasn’t until 1990 that we did receive charitable status after incorporating..

  • The name Green Haven Shelter for Women was chosen in honour of Barb Green. Her dedication to the community service and family counselling dated back to the apartment hostel.

    Although Barb Green had passed away shortly before the opening, her family were in attendance. An oil painting of Barb was hung in the dining room of the shelter.

  • Orillia’s chapter of the Quota Club provided seed money to support the public awareness campaign. The City of Orillia provided office space in the Sir Samuel Steele building for a nominal fee.

  • In the 1990’s

    Ontario’s Ministry of Community and Social Services funded an administrative position to coordinate the capital project. Many groups and individuals in the area began to send in donations to open a shelter.

  • By September 1990, a house was purchased, architectural drawings completed and rezoning of the location was approved by City Council.

  • On October 3rd, 1991, we opened our doors to women and their children who were escaping violence and other forms of abuse.

  • In the 2000’s

    Green Haven sheltered many, many women and their children until the original shelter was deemed too small for the needs of the residents and the staff and programs. A capital campaign was launched to build a new shelter.

  • In 2020, Green Haven Shelter for Women designed and transitioned into a new shelter providing residents with comfort and safety for themselves and any dependent children. Our painting of Barbara Green continues to hang in our hall.

  • We made the transition into the new shelter in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. This pandemic has greatly affected the housing of women in our new building.

    We have gotten through this, implementing proper health and safety guidelines and continued our work. However, across the world, there has been an alarming rise in gender-based violence, making our work as important as ever.


Our history is still unfolding.

Today, as you are reading this, we are still working towards the elimination of violence against women in our community. We have made it this far due to the dedication and courage of citizens in Orillia who were passionate about standing up to support survivors of abuse. To be a part of this progress and to help us continue advocating for the rights of women and children to live free from abuse, consider how you might be able to contribute to the next chapter of Green Haven Shelter for Women‘s story.

Learn how you can contribute →