Sister Susan Moran, Co-founder of Out of the Cold Program, Has Died

December 21, 2016 | Bill V.

Comments (2)

Sister Susan Moran, co-founder of Out of the Cold program, died of a heart attack Sunday night, Dec. 18. She was 78 years old.  She was a member of the Roman Catholic order Our Lady’s Missionaries.

Along with staff and students of St Michael's College School, Basilian priest Rev. John Murphy and Anglican priest Rev. John Erb she helped found the Toronto Out of the Cold program in 1987 in response to a homeless man who died near the school (it took me a long time to find his name - which is George - he was beaten to death over a drug dispute).

Did you know that there is an online resource called the Toronto Homeless Memorial Official List that goes year by year listing the names of those who died? Did you know that Holy Trinity Church also keeps an up to date list as well?



Out of the Cold (OOTC) is a free informal service for marginalized and homeless people, particularly those who do not wish to use the formal hostel system. Overnight shelter is provided in a different church, temple/synagogue or centre each night (mats or cots serve as beds). The services are run by volunteers.

OOTC sites offer a warm, safe place for guests to spend the night, a nutritious evening meal, as well as additional supports such as clothing rooms, legal clinics and laundry facilities.

Sister Susan Moran was awarded the Order of Canada for social services for her work with the homeless in 1996.

Sister Suan Moran

copyright the Toronto Star Archives

Below is a current list of various faith groups and others who are providing space and organizing volunteers and services to help the homeless in Toronto via the Out of the Cold program. There is a calendar here as well that shows the various locations and times/days when they provide services.

If you're interested in reading about Out of the Cold, then author Michael Swan, the Associate Editor of The Catholic Register, has written a close-up account that you can borrow from the library.

Out of the Cold a History of Caring by Michael Swan

If you are interested in the issue of homelessness in Toronto, there is a wide variety of material including many government reports that might be of interest. It is both sad and ironic that report after report has been written, going back as far back as 1960 with the Social Planning Council of Metropolitan Toronto's Report of Committee on Homeless and Transient Men. There are also many other reports written all through the 1990s and 2000s.

As well, there are several titles below that are more community based:

 Street People Speak by Ruth Morris In recent years we have become more aware of the plight of the homeless. Street Peopl are an increasing phnomenon in all major cities in Canada and throughout the western world. Street People Speak is about the people who live on the streets of Toronto. they are the voices of the sick, the abused, the lost, the forgotten. They tell of their hopes and their dreams; their familes and friends; their loneliness and their humour; of their survival, and philosophies. Based on over 80 interviews with street people, the book portrays vividly, in the words of street people themselves, what life on our streets is like. Their stories are painfully haunting, of waster lives and shattered dreams. Memories are all they have and their words portray their gripping anguish and cold dispair.


  StreetCities Rehousing the Homeless StreetCities charts the development of an alternative communal housing model for chronically homeless men and women in downtown Toronto. In her recounting of the stories and narratives of residents and staff at the original "StreetCity" and the second generation "Strachan House," Bridgman explores how living on the street (something often viewed as negative) has the potential to become a powerful emblem of community growth, tolerance, and caring. The histories of these two supportive housing projects are embedded within larger currents of governmental responses to homelessness in Canada, and the incorporation of photographs, interview narratives, and handwritten fieldnotes brings Bridgman's ethnographic research to life. StreetCities also includes a discussion of the architectural design and operation of the two housing projects, and the eventual closing of the original "StreetCity."  StreetCities is written for those who want to learn more about the work being done to help chronically homeless women and men. The book will be useful for researchers, policy-makers, service-providers, teachers, students, and activists working in the fields of homelessness and housing studies, social work, urban and applied anthropology, sociology, urban studies, and qualitative research methods.   Bent Hope a Street Journal by Tim Huff  The winner of 3 book awards as best book in it's category, Bent Hope was born out of Tim Huff’s first twenty years of unique and extensive work among homeless and street-involved youth and adults, in one of North America’s largest urban centres—Toronto, Canada. Bent Hope is a collection of thoughtful narratives birthed beneath crumbling bridges and in the hidden alcoves of darkened alleyways after midnight. These gripping true-life stories surface quietly from unforgiving corridors of fear, hurt and uncertainty—and unexpectedly and supernaturally transform them into fascinating places of intimacy and godly anticipation

You may also be interested in Home Safe Toronto, a 2009 DVD documentary that focuses on family poverty and homelessness locally. It features well known street nurse and activist Cathy Crowe. There is more information about it and a preview at this site

During the recent cold alert in December 2016 in Toronto, Crowe was one of the people calling for the local armories to be opened as temporary shelters. The Toronto Star just wrote an editorial about this issue: Find Emergency Shelters for the Homeless.


Home Safe Toronto - DVD Home safe Toronto focuses on the children and families who experience poverty and homelessness in one of Canada's most prosperous cities. Researched and produced with the children and parents who appear in the film, it reflects their experience and thoughts about what it will take to end poverty and homelessness. It shows how the housing crisis in Canada is an expression of the increasing economic and job insecurity that has devastated the manufacturing sector in the Greater Toronto Area and throughout southern Ontario.

 Cathy Crowe was also associated with the book Dying for a Home: Homeless Activists Speak Out.

Dying for a Home  Homeless Activists Speak Out:  Cathy Crowe always wanted to be a nurse but she never planned to be a street nurse-a title she continues to use to evoke the horror of homelessness in a rich country like Canada. In "Dying for a Home" Crowe brings us the voices of ten homeless activists advocating for change. The word homeless conjures many stereotypes, but rarely does it suggest bravery, courage, charisma, or intelligence, qualities demonstrated by each of these determined individuals. The contents of Crowe's nursing bag reveal the hard truth of her specialty. Her vitamins will not prevent the white plague of tuberculosis from taking another life. The duct tape to fix a cardboard shelter, or the bus ticket to get an elderly man to a hot air grate, will not ensure a peaceful night of safety and sleep. Crowe's experience has taught her that the only thing homeless people have in common is being de-housed and forced to live in conditions of poverty. It is this first-hand experience with the disgrace of homelessness that turned her into a housing advocate and introduced her to the ten contributors to "Dying for a Home." - Sarah Polley

Cathy Crowe presented the The Fifth Annual June Callwood Lecture "Dying For A Home: Fighting For Our Social Programs (Kitchen is the Heart of the Home)" at Toronto Public Library as seen below - this is part two (part one is here):


There are many online resources available that look at homelessness in Toronto. I was surprised to see the number of videos on YouTube. I found this one "What it's like to be Homeless" set under the columns of Toronto city hall to be very realistic.

Poverty, hunger and homelessness are not new problems. Toronto has a long history of religious and secular organizations as well as governments trying to grapple with this problem. I think the approach of religious groups is much less heavy handed now and the motivation has moved from charity to social justice. Below are some vintage photographs from 1912 of the Yonge Street Mission where the link between food, service and listening to a sermon were deeply linked. You may also be interested in reading The Fred Victor Mission story: From charity to social justice (and more information about them from their website).

Going into the Mission for Sunday Morning Free Breakfast 1912

"Going into the Mission for Sunday Morning Free Breakfast and to hear the Gospel afterwards", 1912 Yonge Street Mission


Sandwich Department 1912 vintage photo Yonge Street Mission

"Sandwich Department - where 3000 sandwiches are made each Saturday morning, 1912 photo Yonge Street Mission."


Feeding Over 350 Men at the Sunday Morning Free Breakfast 1912 vintage photo Yonge Street Mission

"Feeding over 350 men at the Sunday Morning Free Breakfast", 1912 Yonge Street Mission