On September 28, 2011, the first British Home Child Day in Ontario, descendents and friends of British Home Children will gather at Upper Canada Village near Morrisburg, Ontario. It will be a day of story sharing and showing of appreciation for the contribution that these little immigrants made to the country that became their home. If you would like further information on this, please do not hesitate to contact the organizing committee spokesperson, Carol Goddard at firstname.lastname@example.org and watch for more information.
CFN – Between the 1860’s and 1930’s, British Home Children came to this country as part of the Child Migration Scheme in Great Britain. Aged from infancy to 18 years, most were orphans, or deemed to be at risk or had already committed minor crimes. As part of this endeavour, these young people would be removed from their home environment and placed in institutions run by either religious or philanthropic organizations in all parts of Great Britain. After being provided with a rudimentary education, religious instruction and vocational training many were relocated to Canada and other British Commonwealth countries such as Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.
Leaving behind friends and family, they were sent to these countries for an opportunity at a more successful life than was possible at home in Britain.In the 70 years that British Home Children were sent to Canada, over 100,000 children arrived to begin a new life here, with a large number of them settling in Ontario. Many of these young immigrants arrived in Halifax, then boarded a steamer or train to complete the journey to their new home. With a bible in one hand, perhaps a copy of Pilgrim’s Progress in the other and a wooden box in which their few possessions would be stored they faced a new country, a new home alone. After signing an agreement with both the sponsoring agency and their employer their period of indenture would begin. In many cases the home children either worked as farm labourers or house domestics.
While their terms of service stipulated that they were to be allowed time to attend school and church it is reported that quite often neither occurred. Many had to eat alone away from the family, endure beatings or worse and often did not receive the money stipulated to in the agreement. There are also stories where the Home Children were welcomed into the family and were well treated by their employers. With the passage of time and the overcoming of many obstacles, these child immigrants grew up, found work, married and raised families, all the while contributing to their adopted country.
Reading of the Bill at Queen’s Park