British immigrant children from Dr. Barnardo's Homes at landing stage, St. John, New Brunswick.Source
Between 1869 and the late 1930s, over 100,000 juvenile migrants were sent to Canada from Great Britain during the child emigration movement. Motivated by social and economic forces, churches and philanthropic organizations sent orphaned, abandoned and pauper children to Canada. Many believed that these children would have a better chance for a healthy, moral life in rural Canada, where families welcomed them as a source of cheap farm labour and domestic help.
After arriving by ship, the children were sent to distributing homes, such as Fairknowe in Brockville, and then sent on to farmers in the area. Although many of the children were poorly treated and abused, others experienced a better life here than if they had remained in the urban slums of England. Many served with the Canadian and British Forces during both World Wars.
Library and Archives Canada (LAC) holds unique and extensive records about British Home Children, such as passenger lists, correspondence files, inspection reports. Please note that most documents have been created in English. Members of the British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa (BIFHSGO) are indexing the names of juvenile migrants found in these records.
- The children's home-finder; the story of Annie MacPherson and Louisa Birt, by Lilian M. Birt, 1913. (AMICUS 8839837)
- The Golden Bridge: Young Immigrants to Canada, 1833-1939, by Marjorie Kohli, 2003. (AMICUS 28334219)
- The Little Immigrants: the Orphans Who Came to Canada (new edition), by Kenneth Bagnell, 2001. (AMICUS 25790513)
- Uprooted: The Shipment of Poor Children to Canada, 1867-1917, by R. A. Parker, 2010. (AMICUS 38047900)
Research Aids at LAC
Department of Agriculture, Central Registry Files (RG 17) (R194-40-3-E) (MIKAN 156172)
Before 1892, immigration operations were under the jurisdiction of the Department of Agriculture. The Central Registry files include correspondence between the Immigration Branch and various sending organizations. Use Archives Search with search criteria such as Record Group 17 (Agriculture) and the name of the sending organization or the receiving home.
Immigration Branch: Central Registry Files (RG76 B1a) (R1206-126-2-E) (MIKAN 134829)
These files contain correspondence from and to various sending organizations. They often include annual reports, information booklets and some lists of names of children. The files cover the years from 1892 to approximately 1946. Use Archives Search with search criteria such as Record Group 76 (Immigration) and the name of the sending organization or the receiving home.
Juvenile Inspection Reports (RG76 C4c) (R1206-158-4-E) (MIKAN 161388)
Immigration officials created inspection report cards as they carried out regular inspections of children brought to Canada by various organizations, in the 1920s, although there are a few records dated as early as 1914 and some as late as the 1930s. There is usually one page per child, with the following details: name, age or date of birth, year of arrival, name of ship, sending organization and names and addresses of farmers with whom they were placed.
This series also includes inspection cards for some European children, including those brought to Canada by the Armenian Relief Association of Canada (1923-1932) and the Canadian Jewish War Orphans Committee (1920-1921).
The Juvenile Inspections Reports are available on the following microfilm reels, arranged in approximate alphabetical order:
List of Juvenile Inspections Reports
||ANDERSON, Newton and ABBOTT, Auber
||EVANS, Arthur E.|
||EVANS, Arthur L.
||HENDERSON, Ann F.|
||HENDERSON, Charles H.
||SHAW, Walter A.
Sending Organizations and Receiving Homes - coming soon