Home Children

by E.B. Lapointe

In a recent issue of "The Archivist," a publication from the Library and Archives of Canada, was an article on Home Children, those children who were sent to Canada and the United States in the 19th and 20th centuries from the United Kingdom, either because of the wars at the time, or because the authorities thought life would be better for them in the New World.*

It has been said that from 4 to 5 million Canadians and Americans can trace their ancestry back to Home Children. Because they were separated from their parents and siblings at such early ages, many of them have spent their lives trying to locate their families. Up until a few years ago, this was so difficult because the British government (and some of the agencies which sponsored their travel to Canada) refused to release their personal records.

That brought to mind of how the descendants of those children have fought for their right to trace back their ancestry to what has become known as "Home Children" in Canada. So persistent have these descendants been that there are now research facilities in Canada and the United Kingdom dedicated exclusively to the research of their ancestors.

Home Children Plaque - St. George's Home, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Photo Credit: Mario Lapointe CD

This plaque, commerating Home Children in Canada, is located outside of the Holy Rosary Parish Rectory on Wellington Street, Ottawa. It is the first such plaque ever erected by a province in Canada.

In Canada, the British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa (BIFHSGO) has taken on the task of becoming, as they say in their opening, "a centre of specialization on Home Children."

The society has liaised with the Library and Archives of Canada on the indexing of the Middlemore Children, and the indexing of the Home Children's Passenger Lists. I have checked the database myself, and found that simply putting in the surnames will give results as to their given name, their age, sex, the ship on which they came over to Canada from Great Britain, and the year of their arrival. Presently, the years available for research are 1869 to 1871; 1873 to 1894; 1896 to 1910; 1912 to 1914; and 1916.

BIFHSGO have dedicated a webpage on their website (http://www.bifhsgo.ca/home_children_links.htm) to provide many more links to more information about the Home Children themselves.

Special mention should be given to a Canadian, Dave Lorente, who, through his persistence, petitioned not only the British Parliament to release the records of the children and their families, but also the agencies which sent the children overseas to Canada. To this end, a special link has been provided on BIFHSGO's website to his own at (http://www.orphantrainriders.com/HomeChild/HomeIndex.html).

(As he says in a recent e-mail to me, he will be handing over his research papers to BIFHSGO, and the organization will be answering all queries as concerns ports of entry and the locating of records.)

The Holy Rosary Parish Rectory on Wellington Street, Ottawa, formerly known as St. George's Home.
Photo Credit: Mario Lapointe CD

The Holy Rosary Parish Rectory on Wellington Street, Ottawa, formerly known as St. George's Home, was the main receiving centre for Roman Catholic children until the last child arrived in the early 1930s. It had been used as a main distribution centre for Home Children since c1895.

Marjory Kohli keeps a detailed website entitled "Young Immigrants to Canada", (http://ist.uwaterloo.ca/~marj/genealogy/homeadd.html) on which is listed "Home Children Family Reunions", and the latest in links to all knowledgeable information about not only Home Children, but other juveniles, as well. Her website, and others like it, can be accessed through the links at BIFHSGO.

The Canadian Centre for Home Childrenólocated near Charlottetown, Prince Edward Islandóalso has a website at (http://www.homechildren.ca) on which on can complete an online application for a search of home children. They have also sponsored two reunions, one in 2002, and one in 2003.

* "The Archivist", No. 121, 2003 - "A Home Away From Home for British Guest Children" Laura Madokoro, Archivist

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    "A former newspaper reporter in Canada's capital, Ottawa, I became interested in writing about genealogy when researching my own ancestor, Andrew Barclay, an American Loyalist from Boston, Massachusetts, early in 1990. Quickly, my interest spread beyond my own family, and by 1994, I was editing a genealogy newsletter and by 1997, I was editing the Sourcing Canada series of books. Since then, I have gone on to write "My Ancestor Was French Canadian" and a series of booklets on Canadian genealogy. I love to travel the Canadian and American countryside looking for interesting people and places to photograph and to write about." - E.B. Lapointe

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