Kingsley Ogilvie Fairbridge established the Society for the Furtherance of Child Emigration to the Colonies, which was later incorporated as the Child Emigration Society, then as the Fairbridge Society. Its aim was to train homeless boys and girls for colonial farm life. In 1913, the society started sending boys to a farm school in Australia.
The Prince of Wales Fairbridge Farm School was opened in 1935 in Cowichan Station, located on Vancouver Island, near Duncan, British Columbia. It was named after one of their major supporters, the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII).
The society had the support of the provincial and federal governments. A regulation that prohibited the immigration of unaccompanied children under the age of fourteen was waived. Students at the farm school lived in group cottages and were to receive a standard Canadian education up to the age of fifteen, then three years of vocational training.
In 1938, Captain James Cameron Dun-Waters donated "Fintry", his orchard and dairy farm in the Okanagan Valley near Vernon, to the Fairbridge Society. Some of the older children from the Vancouver Island school worked at the Fintry Fairbridge Training Farm during the summers.
Fairbridge also brought children from other agencies, including the younger Middlemore children. Also, Fairbridge children were first sent to the Middlemore Homes for training before emigration. Most were sent to Australia and smaller numbers to Canada.
Emigration slowed during the Second World War and the Prince of Wales Fairbridge Farm School closed in 1949.
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: Fairbridge Farm Schools, Duncan, British Columbia
RG76, volumes 375 and 376, file 510340, parts 1 to 4, 1931-1943, microfilm C-10273
RG76, volume 376, file 510340, part 4, 1943-1945, microfilm C-10274
Middlemore Children's Emigration Home fonds (MG28 I492)
Library and Archives Canada holds microfilm copies of the Middlemore records, which include case files of Fairbridge Farm School children. However, because those files are restricted, former children and their families must contact the Birmingham City Council Support After Adoption Team (see below).
Research in Other Institutions
Case files and other records for Fairbridge children are held at the Birmingham Archives. Child migrants and their family members can obtain information from those closed records by contacting the Birmingham City Council Support After Adoption Team.
Individuals must submit a written inquiry giving as much information as possible about the child. If the inquiry is from the former child migrant, the Team will ask for proof of identity. If the inquiry is from a family member, they will need to supply proof of death of the original child migrant. The inquiry should be directed to:
Support After Adoption Team
2nd Floor Tamebridge House
Tamebridge Industrial Estate
Birmingham B42 2TX
Fax: 0121 675 2296
Archives of the Anglican Diocese of British Columbia
The Diocesan Archives holds the Fairbridge Farm School Chaplain fonds. The fonds consists of the deed of dedication and list of donors, parish registers, historical notes, reunion records (2003), and related documentation and correspondence. Parish registers include baptisms (1940-1992), confirmations (1940-1948), and marriages (1940-1994). For more information, contact the Archives of the Anglican Diocese of British Columbia.
British Columbia Archives
The B.C. Archives holds the Prince of Wales Fairbridge Farm School fonds, which includes correspondence, reports, newsletters, photographs and case files. Restrictions apply to records that contain personal information.
They also hold the Fairbridge Alumni Association fonds, which includes correspondence, newsletters, financial reports and photographs. Some former Fairbridge Farm staff members have also donated material to the B.C. Archives. For more information, contact the British Columbia Archives.
Cowichan Valley Museum and Archives: Archival Collections
The Museum provides digitized photographs of Fairbridge students and school buildings under the section called Farm-Schools.
Greater Vernon Museum and Archives
This Archives holds some records of the Fairbridge Training Farm School in Fintry, from 1941-1949. For more information, contact the Greater Vernon Museum and Archives
Fairbridge Canada Association
This association provides a list of 329 children sent to the Farm School, 1935-1948. On the Fairbridge Canada website, select Farm School, then Fairbridge Parties Scroll. Also on their website, select Gazette to view digitized copies of their publication the Fairbridge Gazette.
- The golden bridge: young immigrants to Canada, 1833-1939 by Marjorie Kohli, pages 206-207. (AMICUS 28334219)
- Fairbridge: empire and child migration by Geoffrey Sherington and Chris Jeffery. (AMICUS 19947188)
See our Home Children 1869-1932 page for links to other research sources, websites and institutions in Canada and the United Kingdom.