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The Strathroy and District Historical Society will be starting off their year with a talk on British Home Children.

The following is an excerpt from past exhibit entitled “The Immigrant Experience”.  Written by Brianna Hammer

“To thousands of young people, emigration has been the golden bridge by which they have passed from an apparently hopeless childhood to lives of useful service and assured comfort, in this new land.”

Mr. G. Bogue Smart, Inspector of British Immigrant Children and Receiving Homes, 1915

After rapid industrialization and countless epidemics swept through Britain’s overpopulated cities in the mid-1800s, thousands of children were left orphaned or homeless. The Child Emigration Scheme, as most famously promoted by Dr. Thomas Bernardo, was created as a way to help children out of poverty and homelessness and offer a new beginning. Bernardo saw the increasing demand for farm and domestic help in the new British colonies as an opportunity for the poverty-stricken children he encountered in his daily medical work. It was believed that these children had a better chance for a healthy, moral life in rural Canada, where families welcomed them as cheap domestic and agricultural help.

Between 1869 and the 1920s over 80,000 poor and orphaned children from Great Britain were sent to Canada. More commonly known as “home children,” these young immigrants were often greeted by tough working conditions: mere children taking on adult tasks. Children were put to work in the fields, or assisted families in the home as servant help. The children and their host families were carefully documented and annually inspected by the Ministry of Agriculture, whose requirements including sending the children to Sunday school and providing them with neat clothing. However, some stories of abuse or life of hardship emerged after the peak of this immigration experiment.

From the main distributing centres in Toronto and Winnipeg, arrivals were dispersed throughout Canada. Home children started arriving in Strathroy-Caradoc in the late 1800s and their descendents remain in this community today.

On September 17th at 7:00pm come down to the Strathroy Seniors’ Centre located at 137 Frank Street to listen to a talk from Dan Oatman and Terry Gentleman who have family connections to British Home Children.  For more information on the Strathroy & District Historical Society visit their NEW WEBSITE @ http://sdhsociety.weebly.com or email sdhsociety@gmail.com.

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About the Museum

Museum Strathroy-Caradoc opened to the public in 1972. As a community museum we strive to preserve and tell the story of Strathroy-Caradoc, and inspire residents to explore and understand the community around them.

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