British Immigration and Colonization Association


The B.I.C.A. was incorporated in 1921 as the British Immigration Aid Association and changed its name in December 1923. The purpose of the Association was to encourage and sponsor emigration from the British Isles to Canada. Boys aged fourteen to eighteen were recruited from rural farm families, offered free passage, training and farm employment in Canada. The goal was for them to eventually become successful Canadian farm owners.

Like many immigration organizations in that period, it received financial assistance from the British and Canadian governments through the Empire Settlement Act, as well as grants from railway and steamship companies.

Starting in 1924, the Association operated a Boys Immigration Hostel in Montreal (Osborne House) and in 1927, a training farm in Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue. Boys were placed on farms in various locations in Ontario and Quebec. The B.I.C.A. also assisted Dr. Cossar with placing boys from his training farm.

The Association sent approximately 5,500 boys, the majority of them between 1924 and 1931. Very few emigrants were sent after 1931, but it continued operations until 1941, assisting with employment, wage remittances and medical care of the boys under its guardianship.

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.

File title: British Immigration and Colonization Association, Montreal, Quebec
RG76, volumes 102, file 16120, part 1, 1921-1925, microfilm C-4765
RG76, volumes 102 and 103, file 16120, parts 1 to 7, 1925-1931, microfilm C-4766
RG76, volumes 103 and 104, file 16120, parts 7 to 10, 1931-1959, microfilm C-4767

The following volumes contain lists of boys sent over and individual medical examination certificates.

RG76, volumes 297, file 274429, part 1, 1925, microfilm C-7846
RG76, volumes 297 and 298, file 274429, parts 1 to 7, 1925-1927, microfilm C-7847
RG76, volumes 298 and 299, file 274429, parts 7 and 8, 1927, microfilm C-7848

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

British Immigration and Colonization Association of Canada fonds (MG28 I62)

This fonds consists of minute books, 1920-1941, and a cash book, 1931-1950. There are no files on individual boys; however, some of their names appear in the cash book for payments from farmers, mostly in 1931. The records are not available on microfilm.

Research in Other Institutions

No other records have been located in Canada or in England.

Research Online

Published Sources

  • Canada, the land of opportunity by the British Immigration and Colonization Association of Canada. (Amicus 17095909). See the Amicus record to view a digitized copy of that publication.

  • "The British Immigration and Colonization Association of Canada, Inc." by Marilyn Hinchmark in Relatively Speaking: a publication of the Alberta Genealogical Society, volume 38, no. 2 (May 2010), pages 48-53.

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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