Liverpool Sheltering Home


Louisa Birt was the sister of Annie Macpherson, both of whom worked with destitute children. Mrs. Birt became the head of the Liverpool Sheltering Home in 1873, the same year in which she started sending children to Canada.

From 1873 to 1876, approximately 550 Birt children were placed in homes in Nova Scotia by Colonel James Wimburn Laurie.

Annie Macpherson no longer needed her receiving and distribution home in Knowlton, Quebec, so Mrs. Birt began using the Knowlton Home in 1877.

Mrs. Birt also brought children over from the Christ Church Homes, Claughton, Birkenhead, and various British Unions and industrial schools.

In 1910, Lilian Birt took over from her mother in Liverpool. Emigration decreased during the war years and the Knowlton Home was closed in 1915. After the war, the work of the Macpherson homes and the Liverpool Sheltering Home was combined. The Birt children were sent to the Macpherson homes in Stratford, Ontario, and after 1920 to the Marchmont Home in Belleville.

The Liverpool Sheltering Home continued with its emigration work until it was absorbed by Barnardo's Homes in 1925.

In this guide, see also Annie Macpherson.

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 Louisa Birt's Liverpool Sheltering Home. 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: The Sheltering-House, Liverpool, England; Distributing Home, Knowlton, Quebec, 1892-1907
RG76, volume 32, file 724, parts 1 to 3, microfilm C-4690

File title: Distributing Home, Knowlton, Quebec; Stratford and Belleville, Ontario, 1907-1921
RG76, volume 32, file 724, parts 3 to 6, microfilm C-4691

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

Liverpool Sheltering Home (MG40 M26)

This collection includes minute books, annual reports, correspondence and miscellaneous papers of the Liverpool Sheltering Home's activities in Great Britain and Canada. Note that there are other unrelated files from the Liverpool Record Office on microfilm reel A-1638. The Sheltering Home files are near the end of the reel. Also, the quality of the filming is poor.

  • Correspondence, 1903-1931, File 362 [380] She 3/1 to 3/11
  • Minutes of meetings, Committee of Liverpool Sheltering Home, 1873-1933, File 362 [380] She 1/1 and 2/1

The Minutes relate to the day-to-day operations of the Home. Only one document was located that mentions particular children by name:

File 362 [380] She 3/4, Annual Report 1909 or 1910

  • Page 7:
    Lily (no surname given) was adopted as a little girl and married the son of a successful merchant.
    Robert (no surname given) is now a doctor.
  • Pages 7-8:
    An old soldier's two daughters (surname not given) were adopted into the same family. Agnes married on 2 September 1908 near Bannockburn, Ontario, to Frank Q., a Lutheran of German descent and a Railway engineer. Sister Minnie is grown and healthy. [Note that the Ontario marriage record for this couple shows that the names were Agnes Thompson and Frank Quade.]
  • Pages 8-10:
    Margaret Simpson was admitted into the Home in September 1896, age four, after her mother died, and has lived in Canada for twelve years. There is a photograph of her and a letter from her, in which she mentions that she has a sister (not named) in Montreal and a brother Tom in the North West.

Annual Reports of the Sheltering Home for Orphan, Fatherless and Destitute Children, 1874-1908
(File 362 She 2/1 and 2/2, microfilm A-1639)

The annual reports include information from and about individual children. Many of the items only indicate the given name, but other items do include the surname. There are also copies of letters from former Home children concerning their lives and some lists of marriages.

The microfilm reels must be viewed on site.

Research in Other Institutions

Liverpool Record Office

A small collection of records of Louisa Birt (920 BIR, 1892-1899) is held at the Liverpool Record Office. That collection includes papers relating to the following children:
Edith Barker, George Fisher, George Eaton, Mildred Cade, Jessie Roberts, Sarah Jones and her children. Contact the Liverpool Record Office for information about how to access the records.

Barnardo's Making Connections

The Liverpool Sheltering Home was taken over by the Barnardo's Homes in 1925. Records 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 records, (MG28 I 334). However, our copies are restricted by Barnardo’s, so researchers must contact that organization to obtain copies from the records.

Research Online

Published Sources

  • The golden bridge: young immigrants to Canada, 1833-1939 by Marjorie Kohli, pages 119-131. (AMICUS 28334219)

  • Liverpool Sheltering Homes for orphans and fatherless children (Myrtle Street, Liverpool): roll of honour in the Great War, 1914-1917. (AMICUS 17120350)

  • The children's home-finder: the story of Annie MacPherson and Louisa Birt by Lilian M. Birt. (AMICUS 8839837)

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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