Between 1869 and the late 1930s, over 100,000 juvenile migrants were sent to Canada from the British Isles 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 and receiving 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 and job opportunities 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, Immigration Branch correspondence files and inspection reports, non-government collections such as the Middlemore Home fonds, as well as indexes to some records held in the United Kingdom. Most documents have been created in English.
Members of the British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa (BIFHSGO) and other volunteers, and staff of the Genealogy section at Library and Archives Canada, contributed to the indexing of Home Children names for this database.
This database includes names indexed from the following Canadian immigration records:
Passenger lists from 1869 to 1921 and 1925 to 1932 (RG76): These lists constitute the official record of immigration to Canada in those years and are arranged by date and port of arrival. They were consulted to find names of Home Children. The lists have been digitized and can be viewed online through our Passenger Lists 1865-1922 database. Form30A immigration records (1919 to 1924) were not systematically indexed, but other sources were consulted for the years 1922 to 1924.
The annual Sessional Papers for the Immigration Branch were sometimes used to help identify particular parties of children when the passenger lists did not provide precise details.
When passenger lists were not available or partially illegible, other Canadian immigration records were consulted to identify children or help decipher the names such as:
Department of Agriculture (RG17): Prior to 1892, the Immigration Branch was under the jurisdiction of the Department of Agriculture. The General Correspondence Series includes some correspondence between the Immigration Branch and various sending organizations. These records are not available on microfilm or online.
Immigration Branch, Central Registry Files (RG76 B1a): These files include correspondence between the Immigration Branch and various sending organizations. Files may contain annual reports, information booklets and some lists of the names of children sent to Canada. Relevant files in that series cover the years 1892 to the early 1930s. Available on microfilm and online.
Immigration Form 30A (RG76 C1j): From 1919 to 1924, individual Form 30A records were used instead of passenger lists. Available on microfilm and online.
Juvenile Inspection Reports (RG76 C4c): These reports, which date mostly from the 1920s, recorded the inspection visits to individual children in the years after their arrival. Available on microfilm and online.
Manifest indexes (RG76 C2): Transcripts created by the former Immigration Branch in which the names on each passenger list were grouped alphabetically for that ship. They include fewer details than the corresponding passenger lists. These indexes are arranged by date of arrival, regardless of port. They cover the years 1906 to 1920. Available on microfilm and online.
Names of Home Children were also indexed from non-Canadian immigration records such as:
Outwards passenger lists: Passenger lists for ships leaving ports in the United Kingdom. These lists are in the Board of Trade series at the National Archives in England.
Records held by of other institutions: When a reference is provided to documents held by another institution, such as the Colonel Laurie's Papers at the Nova Scotia Archives, you must contact the specified office for information about those records.
U.S. passenger lists: Some groups of children arrived at American ports and are recorded on American passenger lists held at the U.S. National Archives.
This database also includes names indexed from other various archival records or published sources from the:
- Canadian Department of Agriculture
- Canadian Immigration Branch, Central Registry Files
- Catholic Emigration Association, England
- Charlotte A. Alexander, England
- Chorlton Union, England
- Barnarbo's Homes, England
- Father Berry's Home, England
- Father Hudson Society Archives, Coleshill, Birmingham, United Kingdom
- Fegan Distributing Home, Toronto, Ontario
- Gibb Home, Sherbrooke, Quebec
- Girls' Friendly Society, England
- Isle of Man
- Leeds Board of Guardians, England
- Middlemore Children's Emigration Homes, England
- National Children's Home, Hamilton, Ontario
- Nugent Care and other Catholic Liverpool Agencies, England
- Soeurs de la Charité, Rimouski, Quebec
- West Derby Union, children sent to Canada by Father Berry's Home, England
- Westminster Catholic Diocese, London, England
This database also includes names of Home Children:
- Sent by Maria Rye to Canada from 1869 to 1879
- Enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Forces and who died in the First World War.
In addition to the names of Home Children, some of the records that were indexed include the names of:
- Some unaccompanied juvenile migrants who were not Home Children
- Some older boys who were recruited for farm training schemes
- Some older children and young adults who were recruited by immigration agents in the U.K. for farming and domestic work in Canada
- Some Armenian orphans who arrived with Home Children groups
- Some young adults who had been in care as children and travelled as chaperones for the organizations
The database provides access to more than 245,000 names of Home Children from records held at Library and Archives Canada and elsewhere.
The content of the database entries reflects the original language used in the documents. This information was not translated.
Important note: Given that some of the original documents are very difficult to read, some entries in the database may be incorrect and/or incomplete.
The search screen allows you to search by:
- Given Name(s)
- Year of Arrival
You can enter optional terms in the Keyword field, such as the destination or sending organization, for example Brockville or Middlemore.
- Try searching with just the initial for the given name.
- Try variations of the given name, e.g. Lizzie might be used instead of Elizabeth, Bert for Albert, Jack for John, etc.
- You can search with just the surname.
- You can use the * wildcard, e.g. McDon* for McDonell/McDonald, etc.
- You can leave the other search fields blank if you don't know other details.
- Do not enter S.S. (Steamship) when searching by name of ship e.g. enter TUNISIAN, not S.S. TUNISIAN.
You can narrow your search by including additional search terms, but keep in mind that if your request is too specific you may rule out possibilities of which you are unaware. For example, the child may have been sent by a different organization than the one you believe, or he/she may have arrived in a different year.
Note that the name of the sending organization might not appear in the passenger list.
The code enables you to find children that travelled together. For references from passenger lists, you will obtain the relevant code in the item page for each child. For more information about the code, see the field description called Children travelling together under the Item Page section below.
When you have entered your search terms, click on "Search". 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:
- Given Name(s)
- Year of Arrival
If there is no age, gender, ship or year of arrival associated to an entry, that field will be blank on the search results page.
Click on the underlined surname of a child to access the Item page, which contains additional information specific to that child.
Depending on what details are contained in the actual record, the item page will include some, but not all, of the following fields:
Given Name(s): The child's given name as recorded on the document. This may be only an initial and not the full name.
Surname: The child's surname as recorded on the document.
Possible Surname: A spelling variation or a possible surname as suggested by the indexer.
Gender: Male or female.
Age: The child's age at the time of arrival in Canada.
Date of Document on which the age was recorded: The format is yyyy-mm-dd.
Date of Birth: The format is yyyy-mm-dd.
Place of Birth: The child's place of birth as recorded on the document.
Date of Death: The format is yyyy-mm-dd.
Age at Time of Death: Only for children enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force during the First World War.
Place of Burial: The place of burial as recorded on the document.
Siblings: Given names of any siblings that are identified in the document.
Year of Arrival: Year of arrival in Canada.
Ship: The name of the ship on which the child arrived in Canada.
Date of Departure: Date on which the ship sailed. The format is yyyy-mm-dd.
Port of Departure: Port from which the ship sailed.
Date of Arrival: Date on which the ship landed. The format is yyyy-mm-dd.
Port of Arrival: Port in Canada in which the ship landed. Note that some ships arrived at American ports and the children traveled from there to their Canadian destination by train.
Party: Name of the organization that sent the child or with whom he or she traveled. Some smaller organizations sent children with groups from larger agencies.
Sent By: Name of the organization that sent the child.
Destination: Destination of the child, for example Brockville, where the Quarrier home was located. The passenger lists did not record each child's final destination, which was determined by the receiving home after their arrival.
Children travelling together: A code was assigned to each group of children travelling together as found on a passenger list.
Comments: Notes recorded on the document or by the researcher regarding the entry. For example "Children listed as from Birmingham, England."
Address in United Kingdom: For Middlemore records only. The address as given in the document.
Guardian: For Middlemore records only. The name of the guardian of the child as given in the document.
Taken into Care by: The name of the individual, organization or Union that took responsibility of the child in England.
Date of Admission: The date when the child was admitted into an organization in the British Isles. The format is yyyy-mm-dd.
Date of Application: For Middlemore records only. The date when an application was filled to send the child to Canada. The format is yyyy-mm-dd.
Date of Document or 1st Document: For Middlemore records only. The format is yyyy-mm-dd.
Date of Last Document: For Middlemore records only. The format is yyyy-mm-dd.
Place of First Settlement: Place in Canada where the child was first sent into a receiving home or placed with a family.
Individual with whom the child was first placed: The name of the farmer or other individual associated with the child's first placement in Canada.
Date of Enlistment: The date when the former Home Child enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force during the First World War. The format is yyyy-mm-dd.
Place of Enlistment: The place in Canada where the former Home Child enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force during the First World War.
Rank: The rank in the Canadian Expeditionary Force at the time of death.
Regimental Number: The regimental number in the Canadian Expeditionary Force.
Unit: The unit in the Canadian Expeditionary Force.
Event: For the Ups and Downs and Guild Messenger magazines only. Category of the article.
Notes: The indexers have noted when details are relevant to a particular child, for example when the name or age were illegible or difficult to decipher. The indexers leave the field blank or interpret it to the best of their ability.
Type of Records: Passenger lists or other types of immigration-related records.
Title of Record: Title of the document or publication.
Total Number of pages in this file
Issue Number: For magazines only.
Family History Library Microfilm Reel Number
Microfilm Reel Number: The LAC microfilm reel on which the passenger list or other record appears.
Reference: Publication reference or archival reference for this entry, either from Library and Archives Canada or another institution.
Source: Name of the organization where the records are held.
Database Item Number: Unique number assigned to each entry of the database. NOT to be used for ordering copies.
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.
Important Note: When reading some database entries and the actual records, keep in mind that some comments about the children reflect what was written at the time. Words that would be considered offensive and unacceptable today were unfortunately used in that period.
How to Access the Records or Obtain Copies
This database includes entries from many sources, most of which are held at Library and Archives Canada. First, check carefully the content of the following fields of the database entry you found:
- Title of Record
- Page Number
- File Number
- Issue Number
- Volume Number
- Microfilm Reel Number
Then, review the following sections for information about how to access the records.
For sources held at Library and Archives Canada, you can visit LAC and view the records on site. You do not need to pre-order material because most of the items are in self-serve areas. The only exceptions are First World War files that are not yet digitized and records from the RG17 fonds, which must be pre-ordered before your visit.
Entries with References for Microfilm Reels with "C" and "T" Prefixes
Library and Archives Canada does not provide copies of records that are already digitized on our website or on our partner site Héritage. Visit the following sites to view the digitized records online:
On Héritage, enter the reel number in the search box, e.g. C-5219. If the reel is digitized, click on the reel title to see the images. You can browse through the page images; the content (text) is not searchable.
Entries with References from RG17, for Microfilm Reels with “A” Prefixes (including Middlemore MG28 I492 records) and for Published Material with CS88 Call Numbers
Those records are not digitized and not available online. You can order a copy of the page from Library and Archives Canada. For costs of copies, see Price List and Service Standards -- Regular Copies. On the online order form, be sure to include the child's name and the complete citation as it appears in the database
Important Note about Ordering Copies of Middlemore Records (MG28 I492)
Restrictions apply to the release of information from records less than 100 years old. Records over 100 years are now open; however, many of those records are found on the same microfilm reels as restricted records, which makes the entire reel restricted. For that reason, regardless of the date of the documents you are requesting, you must submit the Application for Access form [PDF, 325 KB] (see page four of that form). When you submit your online order, you will receive an e-mail acknowledgement with your order number. You can then send a scanned image of the signed form to firstname.lastname@example.org with your order number. Alternatively, you send it by fax to 613-992-5921.
Entries with References from Barnardo’s Homes Ups and Downs and the Guild Messenger Magazines
If the database entry includes a microfilm reel number, some of those issues are digitized online at The Dr. Barnardo Magazine Ups and Downs.
If the database entry does not include a microfilm reel, or if the issue is not online, you can order a copy of the page from Library and Archives Canada. For costs of copies, see Price List and Service Standards -- Regular Copies. On the online order form, be sure to include the child's name and the complete citation as it appears in the database.
Entries with References from the Index of Home Children who died in the First World War
References to the service files of those who served with the Canadian Expeditionary Force can be found in our Soldiers of the First World War 1914-1918 database. Most of the corresponding attestation (enlistment) papers have been scanned and can be viewed online. The complete service files contain documents relating to postings, pay, medical history, hospitalization, medal entitlements, discharge or notification of death, etc. Links to additional information about the files, abbreviations used, and how to read the medal card and other documents, can be found in the database's introductory page.
Library and Archives Canada is digitizing the First World War files. When a file has been digitized, a link called 'Digitized service file - PDF format' is added to the database entry. If there is no pdf link, it means the file has not yet been digitized. See the section in that database's introductory page on How to Order Copies.
For more information about military burials, visit our War Graves page.
Entries with References from Maria Rye Index, 1869-1879
Those database entries include transcripts of some of the records that were consulted by the indexer. For more information about the sources, see Maria Rye Index, 1869-1879: Notes about the Sources and the Ships (Coming soon).
Entries with References for Records not Held at Library and Archives Canada
American Passenger Lists: Some groups of Home Children arrived at American ports and are recorded on American passenger lists held at U.S. National Archives. Those lists have been digitized on ancestry (subscription required); this site is available free at many public libraries.
Colonel Laurie's Papers: That register is held at the Nova Scotia Archives, but a full transcript is available online at Mrs. Louisa Birt's Children 1873-1876.
Other sources: When a reference is provided to documents held by any other institution, you must contact the specified office for information about those records.
Outward Passenger Lists: Those lists are held at the National Archives in England. They are digitized on ancestry (subscription required), which is available free at many public libraries, and also on FindMyPast (subscription required).
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. In particular, we would like to thank John Sayers, who coordinated the BIFHSGO volunteer indexing project and contributed in many ways to the database partnership with LAC.
Library and Archives Canada would like to thank the late Mr. Brian Rolfe, who donated the microfilm of the Dr. Barnardo's Homes Ups and Downs magazine and initiated that indexing project.
Library and Archives Canada would like to thank Gail Collins, who compiled the index to Maria Rye children who were sent to Canada between 1869 and 1879.
Library and Archives Canada would like to thank Lori Oschefski, Dawn Heuston, Jenn Layne, Carol Black, Dona Crawford, Marjorie Kohli and Perry Snow for their work on identifying Home Children who enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Forces during the First World War and who died during the war.
For information about Library and Archives Canada archival records and published sources, as well as links to other organizations and websites, please consult our Home Children, 1869-1932 page.
Files on individual children were created and maintained by the sending organizations. To find out about possible sources, please consult our Guide to Sending Organizations and Receiving Homes.