On their own - Britain's child migrants

Frank Bray - a good boy in Canada

archive photo of a boy

"I was sorry I came at first, but it soon passed off, and now I am as happy as a lark... The man I work for owns two sawmills and a farm. I am getting two dollars a month ... for my first year and three dollars a month for the next. I cannot milk a cow yet or drive, but I am learning." Extract from Frank Bray's letter from North Clarendon 7 April 1906

Frank Bray was born in 1892, the second of four children of Alice and Charles Bray. His father died in 1900 leaving Alice with no choice but to send the children to South Stoneham workhouse in Southampton.

His elder brother Arthur became an apprentice in 1905 and year later Frank asked to be sent to Canada. He must have seen it as a great oppurtunity, although this separation from his family must have been hard for him. Ethel, the youngest, may have followed him but his younger brother Albert remained in Britain and became a seaman.

old hand written letter

Departing letter

Frank wrote this letter on 21 February 1906, to Mr Graver at South Stoneham workhouse, during his stay at the Liverpool Sheltering Homes. He talks about his forthcoming journey to Canada.

See a larger version of Frank Bray's departing letter.

Reproduced courtesy Southampton City Archives, Southampton City Council

Frank travelled up to Liverpool and stayed at the Sheltering Homes. After passing his medical inspection he sailed to Canada on SS Tunisan in April 1906. He was received at the Knowlton Home in Quebec and soon found a placement on a farm in North Claredon.

Frank was also featured earlier in the exhibition in Meet the children.

 

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