Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Child Immigration to Canada - Home Children

About 118,000 children were sent mainly from England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales to Canada between 1863 and 1939.

One of the biggest homes involved in sending the children to Canada was Barnardo's.

Sometimes the parents had placed their children to be sent to Canada.  Other times, the parents were told only after their children were sent to Canada!

The whole thing worked like indentured servitude.  The child would work (as farm labor or a domestic) for a number of years, until they were 18.  They would get room and board.   They were supposed to be sent to school.

In some cases, the child was treated well and even became part of the family in the home they were sent to. Unfortunately, some of the children were mistreated.   Some were badly abused.

Many of the children were very unhappy and isolated from their friends and family back in England.  Suicides happened. 

An article in the newspaper Canadian Champion in 1892 shows that they weren't exactly welcomed in Canada.

Whitby Chronicle, 18 Dec 1896
I wonder what ever became of this poor girl and her baby, too bad that DNA tests didn't exist back then!

It is estimated that Home Children descendants of Home Children make up 11-12% of the Canadian population.   I would think that I would have to have one somewhere in my family, either a Home Child ancestor or a home that took in a Home Child but I havent found one yet.  I do wonder if perhaps some of the "adopted" children in some of my families were originally Home Children.  

The children were often called Barnardo boys or Barnardo girls like in the following articles:

Flesherton Advance, 1 Jul 1909

Newmarket Era, 20 Aug 1909

(quite the contrast in the two stories!)

Flesherton Advance, 21 Jun 1917
 Many of the boy Home Children served with  the C.E.F. in WWI.

Ontario has designated September 28th as British Home Child day.

The story "Anne of Green Gables" is a fictional story which shows what life was like for a Home Child.

Here are some YouTube videos I found:

Walter Goulding, at age 105, is Canada's oldest living Home Child.

There is a podcast at Library and Archives here

A few good blogs on the topic of Home Children for further reading:

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