On their own - Britain's child migrants

Hugh Blair

detail of open page of a large ledger with handwritten names and details of children

"Hugh has grown to be a big fine looking fellow and Mr Caldwell states that he is very agreeable and a willing worker. Hugh is not just exactly satisfied about the wage arrangement but looks upon Mr Caldwell as a good employer and on the whole is quite happy."
Fairknowe Home, Brockville, Ontario, Canada. Report by Mr Winters after a visit to the farm on 26 October 1932

Hugh Blair was born on 14 November 1913. He and his brothers were admitted to Quarriers Orphan Homes of Scotland following the death of their parents in 1923. It was their father’s dying request that they be sent there. At the time Hugh was 10, John 13 and William seven.

John fell ill and died in 1926, but Hugh was sent to Canada in 1930, followed by William in 1932. He stayed at the Fairknowe Receiving Home, Brockville, Ontario before being placed on a farm, remaining there until he left to find work at 18.

Hugh departs Quarriers

open pages of a large ledger with handwritten names and details of children

This is one of the Canadian registers kept by the Orphan Homes of Scotland. This particular volume from 1930 features Hugh Blair who left that year. It gives an impression of the enormous numbers of children being sent to Canada from Quarriers alone.

Lent by Quarriers

TSS Letitia

Colour postcard featuring Anchor-Donaldson Line ship TSS Letitia. Hugh departed from Glasgow on board this ship on 28 March 1930, bound for Canada.

Lent by Merseyside Maritime Museum, National Museums Liverpool.

Passenger list

Detail of official passenger list, with hand written names
Reproduced courtesy National Archives.

Detail of the passenger list with Hugh Blair and the names of other children from the Orphan Homes written in.


recent photo of a group of senior citizens

Hugh attended a Quarriers reunion in Canada in 1996. Here he is pictured (top left) with other former child migrants. Reproduced courtesy Quarriers.


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