Between 1869 and the late 1930s, over 100,000 juvenile migrants were sent to Canada from Great Britain during the child emigration movement. Motivated by social and economic forces, churches and philanthropic organizations sent orphaned, abandoned and pauper children to Canada. Many believed that these children would have a better chance for a healthy, moral life in rural Canada, where families welcomed them as a source of cheap farm labour and domestic help.
After arriving by ship, the children were sent to distributing homes, such as Fairknowe in Brockville, and then sent on to farmers in the area. Although many of the children were poorly treated and abused, others experienced a better life here than if they had remained in the urban slums of England. Many served with the Canadian and British Forces during both World Wars.
Research at Library and Archives Canada
Passenger Lists (RG 76)
The names of Home Children are included on passenger lists; however, the lists prior to 1925 contain few details about the children other than name, age, sending agency and destination.
Members of the British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa (BIFHSGO) [www.bifhsgo.ca/index.htm] are indexing the names of juvenile migrants found in our passenger lists. Please note that the database is not yet complete.
Immigration Branch Central Registry Files (RG 76 B1a)
These files contain correspondence from and to various sending organizations. They often include:
The files cover the years from 1892 to approximately 1946. Consult the ARCHIVED - Government of Canada Files database to obtain volume, file and microfilm reel numbers.
Keywords: name of sending organization or Home in Canada, or the place where the Home was located, for example "Fairknowe," "Barnardo$," "National Children's Home," "Niagara"
Record Group: 76
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.
There is usually one page per child, with the following details:
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.
Middlemore Homes (MG 28 I492)
Library and Archives Canada holds microfilm copies of the records of the Middlemore Homes organization, which sent children from the Birmingham area to the Maritimes and Ontario through distributing homes in Halifax, Nova Scotia and London, Ontario.
Volunteers with the British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa (BIFHSGO) are compiling an index for those records. If you locate an entry in that index, BIFHSGO will provide you with the specific archival references so that you can borrow the relevant microfilm reels from Library and Archives Canada or order copies of pages.
Middlemore Homes Index (BIFHSGO) [www.bifhsgo.ca/home_children_emigration_scheme.htm]
We hold a number of other onsite sources, such as printed lists of the names of children sent by various organizations. Library and Archives Canada staff can check relevant onsite indexes on your behalf and suggest other unindexed sources, if you can provide identifying details, such as full name, year of birth, approximate year of arrival, religious denomination, place sent, etc. You can submit your request using the Genealogy Inquiry Form.
The British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa (BIFHSGO) [www.bifhsgo.ca/index.htm] also accepts research inquiries. As we search the same sources, please do not send duplicate inquiries to Library and Archives Canada and BIFHSGO.
Research in Other Institutions
The records relating to the background, intake, care, etc. of the children were created by the sending agencies, some of which did not retain their records. Some organizations, such as Barnardo's and the National Children's Homes, release information from their records to researchers who are immediate family of the child migrant.
Home Children (1869-1930) database
Immigration Records (1925-1935) database
Young Immigrants to Canada
Information on sending organizations, Home Children reunions, extensive bibliography and some lists of names extracted from various records.
Research in Published Sources
Consult our Bibliography for further information on this topic.