Key Events in the Founding of MLH


  • The Greater Victoria Women’s Shelter Society was founded to address the lack of safe and affordable housing for women leaving abusive relationships.


  • Permission granted by estate of Margaret Laurence to name the building Margaret Laurence House.


  • The Women’s Supportive Housing Program (WSHP) was initiated in partnership with the Capital Mental Health Association. This program offered access to affordable housing and ongoing support and advocacy to women who have been, or are at risk of being, hospitalized during periods of acute depression or other crises.


  • Proposal to build 6 townhouse units of second stage housing submitted to Canada Mortgage & Housing Corporation (CMHC)


  • CMHC approved funding for land & construction of Margaret Laurence House. Balance of funding to be raised by the Society. Jannit Rabinovitch hired as project coordinator and as fundraiser. Additional funding from Vancouver Foundation, Victoria Foundation, McLean Foundation, Woodward’s Foundation, Ministry of Women’s Equality, and the wider Victoria community.


  • Training project through which Sandy Merriman House, an emergency shelter for women living on the street, was constructed. Subsequently, GVWSS managed the shelter and drop-in centre at Sandy Merriman House during its initial phase of operation until 1998.


  • Construction of MLH began in March and was completed in August 1995.
  • First residents moved in on September 1st.
  • Margaret Laurence House officially opened on September 29th


  • Women’s Transitional Outreach Pilot project, which operated from Nov 2002 to Oct 2003, explored the possibility of expanding MLH services to include an outreach program to work with women who cannot be housed at MLH.


  • Women’s Supportive Housing Program ended after VIHA (Vancouver Island Health Authority) discontinued funding for the program.

2005 – Present

  • Margaret Laurence House continues to provide 6 rental units to women and their children who are leaving abusive relationships.