Quarrier’s Orphan Homes of Scotland


William Quarrier began his philanthropic work in Glasgow in the 1860s, organizing work brigades for street boys. He operated several homes for destitute and orphan children, including the cottages and farm operation at Bridge of Weir, which opened in 1878. It included over 50 buildings, with a school and training facilities.

Quarrier began sending parties of children to Canada in 1872. They were distributed through Annie Macpherson's homes in Belleville and Galt, Ontario, and in Knowlton, Quebec. He established his own receiving home, called Fairknowe, in Brockville, Ontario, in 1888.

Due to Ontario legislation passed in 1897 regulating juvenile immigration, Quarrier stopped sending children under the age of eighteen. After his death in 1903, his daughters Agnes Burges and Mary Quarrier resumed sending children to Canada. Emigration stopped again during the First World War, then resumed again until 1938, although the Fairknowe Home closed in 1934.

Over 7,000 Quarrier children came to Canada between 1872 and 1938.

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 Quarrier'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: Orphan Homes of Scotland; William Quarrier; Bridge of Weir; Fairknowe Home, Brockville
RG76, volumes 46 and 47, file 1532, parts 1 to 4, 1893-1927, microfilm C-4709
RG76, volume 47, file 1532, parts 5 and 6, 1927-1942, microfilm C-4710
Note that the documents are out of date order on these microfilm.

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

Research in Other Institutions

Records on individual children are held by Quarriers. For information about the records and how to access them, contact their Genealogy and Records Service.

Research Online

Published Sources

  • The Quarriers story: one man's vision that gave 7,000 children a new life in Canada by Anna Magnusson.(AMICUS 32650753)

  • The golden bridge: young immigrants to Canada, 1833-1939 by Marjorie Kohli, pages 168-177. (AMICUS 28334219)

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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