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Description found in Archives

John Joseph Kelso fonds [textual record, graphic material, architectural drawing] 



Place of creation

No place, unknown, or undetermined

5.6 m of textual records.
1,278 photographs b&w.
1 drawing pen and black ink and pencil; 17.1 x 13.8 cm on sheet.
2 architectural drawings

Scope and content

Fonds contains textual records including autobiographical files, 1878-1934; correspondence, 1873, 1889-1935; diaries, daily journals, 1880-1896, 1903, 1912-1935; subject files, n.d., 1888-1935; notes and drafts, n.d.; notebooks, scrapbooks, newspaper clippings, 1880-1934; broadsides, 1887-1934; and reports, 1887-1935. Fonds contains photographs related to Kelso's work with the indigent, children, and the Children's Aid Society, as well as photographs of Kelso, his home, slums, other personalities, and exhibitions, [ca. 1900-1929]. Fonds also contains a drawing of Canadian naturalist and writer, Ernest Seton (1860-1946), 1882. Fonds consists of two architectural drawings. The first a Preliminary study of the Boyville Community Village Orphanage drawn by O. Harold McAvoy, architect; the second a plan entitled "Fourth floor plan, Highway Commission Building : sketch for proposed subdivision of offices Neglected Children Department" drawn by F.R. Heakes, architect.

Graphic (photo)
90: Open
Graphic (art)
90: Open
Architectural: technical drawings
90: Open
Archival reference no.
Former archival reference no.

Terms of use

Photographs: No restrictions. Copyright expired. Credit: Name of photographer / National Archives of Canada / Copy negative no. Drawing: No restrictions. Copyright expired. Credit: National Archives of Canada.
Architectural, technical drawing: Please consult lower level descripions.

Textual records The finding aid is a list of file titles. MSS0368 90 (Electronic)

Architectural, technical drawings Please consult lower level descriptions. 90 (Other)

Biography / Administrative history

John Joseph Kelso was born in 1864 at Dundalk, Ireland. While a reporter for the World and the Globe, he founded the Toronto Humane Society in 1887, the first organization of its kind in Canada. As the Society's first president, he pressured for the prevention of cruelty to children and animals. In the following year he established the first Children's Fresh Air Fund and the Santa Claus Fund in the city, and the Children's Aid Society in 1891.

In 1893 Kelso participated in the drafting of provincial child welfare legislation which provided for a Superintendent of Neglected and Dependent Children. He was appointed to this position and retained it until 1934. Kelso was responsible for the administration of the Children's Protection Act, the Industrial Schools' Act, the Adoption Act, and the Children of Unmarried Parent's Act. Kelso directed the expansion of the Children's Aid Societies throughout Ontario and was instrumental in the establishment of similar child protection legislation and systems in Manitoba, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia.

Kelso was active in organizations such as the American Humane Society, the Canadian and National (American) Conference of Charities and Correction, and the Social Service Council of Canada. He also assisted in the organization of the Royal Canadian Humane Association, the University Settlement, the Central Neighbourhood House, the Toronto Playground Association, and the social work course at the University of Toronto. He was the author of many reports and pamphlets on social reform and the care and protection of children.

See also: The Canadian Encyclopedia, 1985, and Jones, Andrew and Leonard Rutman, In the Children's Aid, J.J. Kelso and Child Welfare in Ontario, Toronto: University of Toronto, Press, 1981.

Additional information

Researchers may also wish to consult Andrew Jones' 1976 interview with Martin Kelso concerning his father, J.J. Kelso, available in the Moving Images and Sound Archives. A poster advertising a meeting that Kelso addressed, 1909, is in vertical storage.

Received in 1974 and 1979 from Martin Kelso of Toronto, Ont.

Subject heading

1. Child welfare - Canada, n.d., 1888-1935 American Humane Association, [1887-1935]
2. Child welfare - Ontario, n.d., 1888-1935 Nova Scotia. Superintendent of Neglected and Dependent Children, [1887-1935]
3. Social work with children - Ontario, n.d., 1888-1935 Saskatchewan. Superintendent of Neglected and Dependent Children, [1887-1935]
4. Children - Services for - Ontario, [1887-1935] Alberta. Superintendent of Neglected Children, [1887-1935]
5. Saskatoon (Sask.) - Children - Services for, [1887-1935] Ontario. Dept. of Neglected and Dependent Children, 1880-1896, 1903.
6. Winnipeg (Man.) - Children - Services for, [1887-1935] Toronto Humane Society, 1880-1896, 1903.
7. Vancouver (B.C.) - Children - Services for, [1887-1935] Penetang Reformatory, [1873, 1889-1935]
8. Toronto (Ont.) - Public welfare, [1887-1935] Toronto Playground Association, [1872, 1889-1935]
9. Children - Legal status, laws, etc. - Canada, [1887-1935] Ontario Children's Aid Society, [1873, 1889-1935]


Other system control no.

Related control no.

1. 1972-292 NPC
2. 1975-069 NPC
3. 1975-272 NPC
4. 1980-014 NPC
5. 1980-016 PIC