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Many orphaned and abandoned children were placed in orphanages or children's homes, which were usually run by local municipalities, provincial/territorial authorities, churches or charitable organizations.

In Quebec, there were no orphanages prior to 1847 as children were placed with families by the government authorities. Private agreements were made with families by signing a Notarial Record. After 1847, orphanages were established and run by nuns.

There is no central repository for orphanage records in Canada. In fact, many records would have been discarded when an orphanage closed.

Research at Library and Archives Canada

Orphanages are not a federal jurisdiction, so Library and Archives Canada holds few such records.

Protestant Orphans' Home (MG 28 I37)

Orphans' Home of Ottawa

Weredale House (MG 28 I405)

The Boys' Home of Montreal

Summerhill Homes (MG 28 I388)

Montreal Protestant Orphan Asylum

Industrial Removal Office (MG 28 V67)

Hebrew Orphans Home, Toronto, 1903

For further details about the above records, consult the ARCHIVED - General Inventory database. Select Private Records.

Keywords: name of the institution

Juvenile Inspection Reports (RG 76 C4c)

Immigration officials created inspection report cards as they carried out regular inspections of children brought to Canada by various organizations in the 1920s, although there are a few records dated as early as 1914 and some as late as the 1930s. Most of the reports relate to British Home Children.

There is usually one page per child, with the following details:

  • name;
  • age or date of birth;
  • year of arrival;
  • name of ship;
  • sending organization; and
  • names and addresses of farmers with whom they were placed.

In some cases, you may have to consult the List of Abbreviations to determine the name of the sending organization.

This series also includes inspection cards for some European children, including those brought to Canada by the Armenian Relief Association of Canada (1923-1932) and the Canadian Jewish War Orphans Committee (1920-1921).

The Juvenile Inspections Reports are available on the following microfilm reels, arranged in approximate alphabetical order:

T-15420 A to CARDNO, Leslie
T-15421 CARDWELL, Andrew to EVANS, Arthur E.
T-15422 EVANS, Arthur L. to HENDERSON, Ann F.
T-15423 HENDERSON, Charles H. to LOCK, Annie
T-15424 LOCK, Herbert to O'BRIEN, Samuel
T-15425 O'BRIEN, Thomas to SHAW, Victor
T-15426 SHAW, Walter A. to WEALE, Walter
T-15427 WEALLS, Eric to ZYCZYNSKI, Leon

This is the only known source for children sent by the British Immigration and Colonization Association.

Census Returns (RG 31)

Census were supposed to include the names of all residents (called inmates) of institutions. Institutions were enumerated within the census returns for the town or township where they were located, with the exception of the 1891 Census, in which the returns for all institutions in Canada are found on one microfilm reel (T-6427), arranged by district.

Research in Published Sources

The book Grosse Ile: Gateway to Canada, 1832-1937, by Marianna O'Gallagher, includes an alphabetical list of 619 Irish orphans in the Catholic Orphanage of Quebec in 1847. The list includes the names of the adoptive families.

Research Online

Manitoba' s Child-Care Institutions

Immigrants at Grosse-Île database (1832-1937)

Orphanages: Canada

Orphan Children at Quebec & Montreal in 1847

Research in Other Institutions

Search for other records in CAIN [], using the keyword term "orphans" or "orphanage."

Orphanage records are sometimes deposited with the municipal archives in the city where the orphanage operated. Use a search engine such as to locate the Web sites for municipalities. Enter keywords such as "City of Brandon" or "Ville de Montréal."

Records for orphanages run by churches might be found in the Religious Archives of the relevant religious denomination.

Manitoba's Child - Care Institutitions

Related Topics


Home Children