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Canada - Researching Canada's Home Children

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Researching Canada's Home Children.    By John D. Reid, Ph.D. Toronto, Canada:  Heritage Productions.  2005.  105 pages.  Plastic comb binding.

A home child is a young immigrant to Canada who came, under the auspices of one of many philanthropic agencies, from an institution (receiving home) in the United Kingdom to another (distributing home) in Canada.  Home children ranged in age from infancy to teenagers.    

In the late 1800's England had an appalling number of slums, especially in London and other large cities.  Families were poor, many children were left on their own to survive as best they could.  Several members of Christian  associations thought that they had the answer to overcrowded slums and child labor by sending children to Canada to help in the agricultural fields.   The home children program continued through the 1930s.

Perhaps you have recently discovered that one of your ancestors was a home child.  For many people, this discovery is a real shock.  Most ancestors did not discuss their experiences as home children.  Many home children, whether orphaned or institutionalized for another reason, had few happy memories of childhood, suffered prejudice in Canada, and had no interest in reliving the times by recounting them in later years.

The period of home child immigration is one for which civil registration and the census were established in both the United Kingdom and Canada, for most areas. Ideally, you should be able to trace the child in both countries.  

The book discusses the history of a home child and research strategies for finding the child. Canadian research sources include  immigration records,  the Home Child Database,  how to use Soundex Cards to search the records, government inspection reports, records of the First World War Canadian Expeditionary Force, Ontario marriage registration, internet sources, the British Home Children Mailing List.  

British  research sources include ship passenger lists, British Poor Law records and civil registration, census records.

Agencies and Agency Records include Barnardo's, Macpherson Homes, various Catholic agencies,   Quarrier's, Middlemoro Homes, National Children's Home, and the Church of England Waifs and Strays Society.

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