The Church Army was founded in 1882 by Wilson Carlile, an evangelist in Kensington, England, who wanted to bring the Church of England to the poor. His "army" was intended not only to battle sin, but also to provide social services to the poor.
In 1909, the Church Army established a Boys' Aid Department to assist older boys with finding employment, training and, in some cases, emigration. They also operated agricultural training farms for prospective emigrants.
The Church Army operated hostels in cities across Canada, through which many Church of England emigrants were distributed for employment. Their Distributing Hostel in Winnipeg also served as a receiving home for Barnardo's boys.
In addition to adult emigrants, the Church Army also sent more than 1,000 older boys. Most were placed on farms in Manitoba and Saskatchewan.
In 1933, the Church Army in Canada took over the responsibility for after-care work for emigrants who had been sent to Canada by the Emigration Committee of the Church of England.
Research at Library and Archives Canada
Immigration Branch: Central Registry Files (RG76 B1a)
This series contains correspondence between the Immigration Branch and many of the sending organizations. The files contain a variety of documents relating to the activities of the organizations, often including annual reports, lists of children's names and medical certificates. The documents within each file are arranged by date. Microfilm reels can be viewed on site.
Most of the microfilm reels in this series are digitized on the free website Héritage. Enter the reel number in the search box, e.g. C-4715. If the reel is digitized, click on the reel title to see the images. The page contents are not searchable, but you can skip ahead through the images to find the volume and file of interest, then browse through the pages in that file.
For the 1920s, these volumes also include some individual medical examination certificates.
File title: The Church Army, London, England (Empire Settlement Act)
RG76, volumes 372 and 373, file 504791, parts 1 to 6, 1906-1928, microfilm C-10271
RG76, volume 373, file 504791, parts 6 to 8, 1928-1933, microfilm C-10272
Juvenile Inspection Reports (RG76 C4c)
Immigration officials created inspection reports as they carried out regular inspections of children brought to Canada by various organizations. These records date from 1920 to 1932; however, there are a few from 1911 to 1917 and after 1932. There is usually one page per child, showing name, age or date of birth, year of arrival, ship, sending organization, the names and addresses of employers and final comments, e.g. "completed, gone west".
The inspection reports are available on the following microfilm reels, which can be viewed on site. They are also digitized on Héritage, as explained in the section above. Note that the original records have not survived and the quality of the microfilm is poor. The records are arranged in alphabetical order, not by organization.
||EVANS, Arthur E.|
||EVANS, Arthur L.
||HENDERSON, Ann F.|
||HENDERSON, Charles H.
||SHAW, Walter A.
Research in Other Institutions
The Church Army in England has some historical records relating to the church's activities, but they are not yet archived. It is not known if any of the records relate to boys sent to Canada, so until the records can be archived, they are not accepting inquiries.
Anglican Diocese of Ottawa Archives
This archives holds payment ledgers for Church Army boys for the 1920s and 1930s. For more information, contact the Anglican Diocese of Ottawa Archives.
- The golden bridge: young immigrants to Canada, 1833-1939 by Marjorie Kohli, pages 163-164. (AMICUS 28334219)
See our Home Children 1869-1932 page for links to other research sources, websites and institutions in Canada and the United Kingdom.