The Home Children Emigration was a mission to give children a chance at a better life in Canada from the streets of England.
The Beginning Of The Home Children Emigrations
The streets of England were filled with poor and orphaned children. Social workers and advocates were overwhelmed with a solution for these children. Socialists like Maria Rye, Annie MacPherson, and Dr. Barnardo began an emigration program that would benefit both Canada and England. Their intention was a noble and benevolent one. By shipping the children across the Atlantic, they intended the younger children to be adopted and the older ones to fill the gap for farm labor and domestic needs in Canada.
The first receiving/distribution home, the Marchmont Home by Annie MacPherson, was at 193 Moira St., Belleville, Ontario, in 1870.
Imagine being a very young child, sailing on a ship leaving your country alone and frightened, not knowing what will this new life be. It would be a blessing for most to leave the squalor behind but scary and emotional nonetheless.
Lori Oschefski And The BHCARA
Lori Oscherfski, founder of the British Home Children Advocacy And Research (BHCARA), also a genealogy researcher, has spent years diligently researching the stories of these children. She has been instrumental in shedding light on their lives and placing memorials for the forgotten.
Her research led to a memorial at Park Lawn Cemetery to mark the 75 children in unmarked graves. Lori began her research when her mother, at age 86, revealed she had been adopted as a Child Migrant to Canada in 1924.
The memorial at Park Lawn lists ALL 75 names of the forgotten children.
Descendants of The Home Children
An estimated 11.5% of Canadians are descendants of these Home Children. Most of these children became citizens of Canada, contributing economically, agriculturally, and politically. But there are cases of abuse through the system due to the lack of supervisors and tiny rural homes with inadequate or non-existent roads for travel.
The case of George Greene(1880-1896) was an extreme example of such abuse. George was sent to the farm of widow Helen Findlay. Helen dragged George from his bed and threw him into the stable with the hogs. He was too weary, exhausted, and in tattered clothes. The coroner, Dr. Allan Cameron, testified about the horrific state of his body, malnourished and beaten. Helen was arrested and charged with eight counts of assault. Sentenced to one year in the Ontario Reformatory for Females on 7/17/1896 and released on 6/11/1897.
A marker and dedication ceremony was held at Big Ray Cemetery on 6/15/2013.
Memorials For The Home Children
The Hazelbrae Memorial in Peterborough, Ontario has ALL 9000 names inscribed on the monument. The list of names can be found on the website:candianbritishhomechildren.weebly.com/the-hazelbrae-memorial.
The Memory Quilt of the Home Children
A Memory Quilt measuring 90" x 100" containing 56 squares with photographs is presently housed in the Mississippi Textile Museum, Almonte, Ontario. The quilt honors some of the Home Children.
2010 marks the Year of The British Home Child in Canada when Prime Minister Gordon Brown formally apologized to the Child Migrants. Australia apologized in August 2009. Canada's Immigration Minister, Jason Kenney, says "there is no need to apologize,,, not enough interest."
Beacons of Light Around the Globe
On September 28, 20219, the Beacons of Light in Red, White, and Blue marked the 150 years since the first arrival of the Home Children to Canada. The Beacon Of Lights (BHC) illuminated memorials, monuments, and buildings was an event to be remembered. Over 230 sightings were displayed, honoring the memories of the Home Children. A complete list of the participating places can be found at www.britishhomechildren.com/beacons-of-light
Research For The Home Children
Renewed interest sparked a number of valuable insights into the stories of the Home Children. Some of those include:
Lori Oschefski's book, Bleating of the Lambs, 2015, is full of historical knowledge and complete with a compilation of personal stories of the Home Children.
Some of the sources used have been cited in this article but others used were: