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 a microfilmed register called British Children Emigrated to Canada By Authority of Boards of Guardians (RG76 C4a, microfilm T-537). The register includes the names of many workhouse children sent to Canada from the late 1880s to 1916. For the full record description, see Mikan 161383.
This database contains the 10,678 names of children that appear in the Boards of Guardians register. The year of immigration recorded in the register is not always correct. It is therefore suggested that researchers cross reference to the passenger lists for the correct year of immigration.
The search screen allows you to search by:
- Given Name(s)
- Year of Arrival
Keyword search applies to the content of the following fields:
- Sending Agency
- Take into care
Note that the name of the sending organization and the year of arrival might not appear in the Boards of Guardians records.
- 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, examples: McDon* for McDonell/McDonald; So* for Sophie, Sofie, Sophy, Sofia, etc.
- You can leave the other search fields blank if you don't know other details.
- Many of the indexed records do not include the year of arrival; try a search without entering a year of arrival.
- When searching by the name of a Union, also try without the word Union, e.g. Wolverhampton.
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
- Given Name(s)
- Arrival Year
Click on the underlined item number of a child to access the Item page, which contains additional information specific to that child.
The item page has a digitized image of the actual page available in JPG and PDF formats. Depending on what details are contained in the actual record, the item page will include most, but not all, of 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.
- Year of Arrival: The year the child arrived in Canada.
- 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).
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.
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.