Home Children – Boards of Guardians

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The Records

Motivated by social and economic forces, churches and philanthropic organizations, including unions, sent orphaned, abandoned and pauper children to Canada. In England, a Board of Guardians was the locally elected administrators of poor relief for each Union, and a Union was a group of parishes that administered poor relief and built a workhouse. Library and Archives Canada holds some microfilmed documents (reel T-537) that include names of children sent from England by Boards of Guardians between 1886 and early 1916.

The Database

This database contains 10,678 names of children. It represents approximately half of the Workhouse children sent to Canada between 1869 and 1935. The year of immigration recorded in the register is not always correct. It is therefore suggested that researchers cross reference to the immigration records for the correct year of immigration.
Search Screen
The search screen allows you to search by:
  • Surname
  • Given Name(s)
Note that some entries include only an initial for the given names. Try searching by surname only.
Note that the name of the sending organization might not appear in the Boards of Guardians records.

When you have entered your search terms, click on "Submit". The number of hits found will be shown at the top of the results screen.

How to Interpret the Results

Your search results will be posted as a results summary list from which you will be able to obtain more detailed descriptions.
Search Results Page
The search results page displays the following fields:


  • Item Number
  • Surname
  • Given Name(s)
  • Age
  • Arrival Year

Click on the underlined item number of a child to access the Item page, which contains additional information specific to that child.

Item Page

The item page has a digitized image of the actual page available in JPG and PDF formats and contains the following fields:
  • Given name(s): The child’s given name as recorded on the document.
  • Possible Given Name(s): The child’s given name being difficult to read, this is an interpretation.
  • Surname: The child’s surname as recorded on the document.
  • Possible Surname: The child’s surname name being difficult to read, this is an interpretation.
  • Age: The child's age at the time of arrival.
  • Taken into Care: Name of the Union or workhouse who sent the child to Canada.
  • Sending Agency: Name of the sending agency or name of the head of agency at that time.
  • Page: The page number of the document.
  • Microfilm Reel Number: The microfilm reel on which the document appears.
  • Remarks: The researchers have noted when details relevant to a particular child were illegible or difficult to decipher, for example name or age. The researchers leave the field blank or interpret it to the best of their ability.
  • Source: Name of the organization where records are held.
  • Reference: Library and Archives Canada reference.
  • Item Number: unique number assigned to each entry of the database.

To suggest a correction, click on the Suggest a Correction link to access an electronic form.

To return to the Search Results page, click on the Back button of your browser in the upper left corner of your screen.

How to Obtain Copies

You can print the images or save them on your computer.

To open a PDF file, you must have Acrobat Reader (See Downloadable Formats, PDF Reader). To print a copy of a scanned image in JPEG format, right click on the image, select copy, then paste to your word processing software, using the edit: paste special feature: device independent bitmap. Alternatively, paste to your desktop and open with the Office Picture Manager to crop and print.

How to Access Library and Archives Canada Records.

Some of the original documents are difficult to read so some information in the database may be incorrect and/or incomplete. Please note that LAC does not provide transcription and translation services. Contact your local genealogical society for assistance.


Library and Archives Canada gratefully acknowledges the contribution of the British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa and its volunteers, without which this project would not have been possible.

Other Resources

Other archival records exist for Home Children. Consult Home Children for more information about these records.
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