In the early 1950’s, Senior-Major David Hammond visited Tom Crocker of Detroit, the founder of Harbour Light in the United States. Moved with compassion for the plight of the men and women of skid row, the Hammonds dreamed of such a centre in Vancouver. In August 1952, with the encouragement of the Corps Officers at Vancouver Temple, Brigadier Charles Watt, and the help of CSM George Ho, Senior-Major & Mrs. David Hammond rented a temporary facility at 55A Powell Street, the former O.K. Smoke Shop, with a seating capacity for 25 people.
The Hammonds began to conduct gospel services and provide soup, coffee and buns as a means of meeting the needs of transients in what was commonly known as “Skid Row” and, more recently as Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.
Meanwhile, another young officer, Captain William Leslie and his wife Captain Mildred Leslie, had a burning passion to start a Harbour Light in Canada to bring the gospel to the street people. In April 1953, Territorial Commander for Canada gave the Leslies their “Marching Orders” thus, making the Captains the first officers appointed in charge of Canada’s first Harbour Light. It was officially opened as a Corps on October 1, 1953. From the initial vision and its birth, the Harbour Light Corps provided a practical, compassionate ministry to the needy as a demonstration of God’s love and care. Over the years, Harbour Light has evolved to a full-fledged Addictions and Rehabilitation Centre that follows a Continuum of Care approach based on the spiritual focus of providing the light of Christ’s love in a very dark area of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.