National Children's Home and Orphanage


Dr. Thomas Bowman Stephenson was a Wesleyan Minister in London, England. He opened the Wesleyan Methodist National Children's Home and Orphanage in 1869. He operated many other orphanages and homes in England and on the Isle of Man, including the Children's Home and Training School for Christian Workers.

In 1872, Dr. Stephenson opened a receiving home in Barton Township, near Hamilton, Ontario. Most of the children were placed with families between Toronto and Niagara Falls. At first, both boys and girls were sent out, but by the end of the 1890s, it was mostly boys. Some of the boys later took up their own homesteads in the prairie provinces.

An estimated 3400 children came to Canada through the National Children's Home from 1873 to 1931. When the N.C.H. ceased its operations in Hamilton, the responsibility for boys still under age was taken over by the United Church.

During the First World War, almost 500 former N.C.H. boys enlisted for service.

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 the National Children's 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: National Children's Home and Orphanage, London, England – Immigration of Children to Canada
RG76, volume 45, file 1381, parts 1 to 4, 1892-1921, microfilm C-4708
RG76, volume 45, file 1381, parts 4, 6 and 8, 1928-1934, microfilm C-4709

Note that the documents are not arranged in correct date order. Also, parts 5 and 7 have not survived.

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

List of N.C.H. Children

Library and Archives Canada has a copy of a list of names of children sent to the N.C.H. receiving home in Hamilton, 1873-1931. For most of the names, the list indicates age or date of birth, date of sailing and name of ship. The details from that list are included in our Home Children Records database.

The list was compiled from ledgers kept at the home in Hamilton, but returned to N.C.H. headquarters in England in 1934. Those ledgers are now part of the N.C.H. records held by Action for Children (see below).

Research in Other Institutions

The National Children's Home is now called Action for Children. For information about how to submit a request for information from the records of a former child migrant, contact the Action for Children Genealogy Service.

Research Online

Published Sources

  • The golden bridge: young immigrants to Canada, 1833-1939 by Marjorie Kohli, pages 137-143. (AMICUS 28334219)

  • Stephenson's children: child migation, Canada, and the National Children's Home, 1873-1931 by Kenneth Mankin. (AMICUS 38981279)

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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