Barnardo’s Homes


Thomas John Barnardo (1845-1905) began his career as a preacher and ragged-school teacher in the east end of London in the mid-1860s. He eventually opened numerous homes for destitute boys and girls across England. In the 1870s, some children were sent to Canada under the care of Annie Macpherson's organization and later to Thomas Stephenson's distribution home in Hamilton, Ontario.

In 1884, Dr. Barnardo opened his first receiving and distribution home, Hazelbrae, in Peterborough, Ontario. The name was later changed to the Margaret Cox Home for Girls. By 1889, Hazelbrae became the distribution home for girls, while boys were sent to the Toronto Home. John W. Hobday ran the Toronto Home for many years.

Barnardo's also operated its Canadian headquarters in Toronto, a receiving home in Winnipeg and a training farm for boys in Russell, Manitoba.

Younger children were boarded-out with foster families. Older children were placed as domestics and farm hands with families all over Ontario and Manitoba, as well as in the other prairie provinces. After 1905, the numbers gradually declined in the years leading up to the First World War and again after the war.

It is estimated that approximately 35,000 children were brought to Canada by Barnardo's between the 1870s and 1939. Barnardo's also brought children from other organizations and workhouses to Canada.

In the November 1919 edition of the Barnardo's publication Ups and Downs, it was reported that 6,211 Barnardo's boys enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force in the First World War. 514 were killed in action.

Research at Library and Archives Canada

Department of Agriculture: General Correspondence (RG17)

Before 1892, immigration was under the jurisdiction of the Department of Agriculture. There are files relating to various sending agencies, including Barnardo's. Those records have been indexed by name in our Home Children Records database.

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.

File title: Dr. Barnardo's Homes – Training Home for Juvenile Immigrants
RG76, volume 51, file 2209, part 1, 1873-1906, microfilm C-4715
(The earliest list of names is from 1893.)
RG76, volumes 51 and 52, file 2209, parts 2 to 4, 1906-1932, microfilm C-4716
Note that the documents are in reverse chronological order in each part of that file.

File title: Inspection of Pauper Children, 1893-1901 (includes Barnardo's and other organizations)
RG76, volume 94, file 10216, microfilm C-4759

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.

Microfilm Reel Number First Name on Reel Last Name on Reel
​T-15420​A​CARDNO, Leslie
​T-15421​CARDWELL, Andrew​EVANS, Arthur E.
​T-15422​EVANS, Arthur L.​HENDERSON, Ann F.
​T-15423​HENDERSON, Charles H.​LOCK, Annie
​T-15424​LOCK, Herbert​O'BRIEN, Samuel
​T-15425​O'BRIEN, Thomas​SHAW, Victor
​T-15426​SHAW, Walter A.​WEALE, Walter
​T-15427​WEALLS, Eric​ZYCZYNSKI, Leon

Ups and Downs

The Toronto office of the Barnardo's organization published a monthly magazine that reported on various aspects of their work in Canada. Ups and Downs included correspondence from current and former Barnardo's boys and girls, in which they reported on various aspects of their lives, such as jobs, education and marriage.

Library and Archives Canada holds an incomplete set of the publication from 1895 to 1949 (Amicus 33339575 and 19939168). We also hold some issues between 1922 and 2010 of the Guild Messenger, a similar magazine published by the London office (AMICUS 41313575). The microfilm and paper copies can be consulted in the genealogy reference room. Some issues are digitized (see below under Research Online).

Volunteers with the British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa produced an index to our copies of Ups and Downs. They also indexed references in the Guild Messenger that related to Barnardo's children in Canada. Those two indexes are searchable by name in our Home Children Records database.

Research in Other Institutions

Barnardo's Making Connections

Records compiled on the children taken into care by the Barnardo's homes are in the custody of Barnardo's Making Connections office. For information about records, fees and access conditions, see Barnardo's Family History Service.

Library and Archives Canada holds microfilm copies of some of the Barnardo's records, (MG28 I334). However, our copies are restricted by Barnardo's, so researchers must contact that organization to obtain copies from the records.

Barnardo's also holds the records of the Liverpool Sheltering Home and the Annie Macpherson Homes.

Research Online

Published Sources

  • Nation builders: Barnardo children in Canada by Gail H. Corbett. (AMICUS 27592915)

  • The golden bridge: young immigrants to Canada, 1833-1939 by Marjorie Kohli, pages 143-156. (AMICUS 28334219)

  • Uprooted: the shipment of poor children to Canada, 1867-1917 by Roy Parker, pages 67-73. (AMICUS 33716306)

Other Resources

See our Home Children 1869-1932 page for links to other research sources, websites and institutions in Canada and the United Kingdom.

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