In the late 1800s, the Salvation Army began assisting poor families to emigrate to the British colonies, and later included single men and women. In 1891, its founder, William Booth, bought the Hadleigh Farm in Essex County, where young men could be trained before emigration.
By the early 1900s, children were also being sent to Canada, many from workhouses and poor law unions. The children were of all religious denominations and under age fourteen. The main receiving home was on Indian Road in Toronto.
When the groups of children landed, a Salvation Army officer would meet them at the port of arrival and escort them by train to a Salvation Army hostel. The officer would prepare them for placement and visit them for regular inspections on their wellbeing.
A report from 1907 indicated that children were placed in various locations in Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia. Operations ceased during the First World War. Afterwards, the Salvation Army began assisting widows and their children, and girls and boys between fourteen and eighteen. They also brought over Armenian orphans.
The girls stayed at the Clinton Lodge Hostel in Toronto and were trained for work in Salvation Army hospitals. Most of the boys were placed on farms in western Ontario, but there were others who went to Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. The juvenile emigration program ended around 1932. Approximately 4,000 children were involved.
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: Salvation Army. Juvenile Immigration
RG76, volumes 494 and 495, file 768363, parts 1 to 4, 1908-1923, microfilm C-10427
RG76, volumes 495 and 496, file 768363, parts 4 to 11, 1923-1925, 1927-1928, microfilm C-10428
RG76, volumes 496, file 768363, parts 11 and 12, 1928-1931, microfilm C-10429
(part 12 contains only two pages for 1926)
Microfilm C-10429 goes up to 1931; however, the last few documents in that file relate only to Albert Sully (Sulley), who arrived in 1923.
The following files relate to adult and family immigrants.
RG76, volume 105, file 17480, parts 1 to 4, 1895-1940, microfilm C-4768
RG76, volume 105, file 17480, additional lists and correspondence, 1904-1905, microfilm C-4768 and C-4769
RG76, volume 435, file 652767, parts 1 to 3, 1907 to 1908, microfilm C-10314
RG76, volume 435, file 652767, parts 3 to 6, 1908 to 1918, microfilm C-10315
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.
||EVANS, Arthur E.|
||EVANS, Arthur L.
||HENDERSON, Ann F.|
||HENDERSON, Charles H.
||SHAW, Walter A.
Research in Other Institutions
Salvation Army International Heritage Centre
Personal records of individual emigrants have not survived, but they do hold general information, such as published reports. For inquiries concerning records and research fees, contact the International Heritage Centre.
The Salvation Army in the Canada and Bermuda Territory
Contact the Museum and Archives for information about fees and access to records. They hold individual sailing sheets and some history sheets for juvenile immigrants, mostly for those who arrived between 1923 and 1932.
- The golden bridge: young immigrants to Canada, 1833-1939 by Marjorie Kohli, pages 209-213. (AMICUS 28334219)
See our Home Children 1869-1932 page for links to other research sources, websites and institutions in Canada and the United Kingdom.