On their own - Britain's child migrants

Mass arrival in Canada

large group of children on the porch of a home
First group of children at 'Our Western Home' 1869.
Reproduced courtesy Niagara Historical Society and Museum.

The long journey was over, and for many children, harsh reality set in. After a short stay in a receiving home, they were sent on to private farms all over the country. There was much demand for children. They were given bed and board and put to work, receiving small wages when they got older.

Many went on to make a modest living but growing up had to overcome the difficulties of living in rural Canada - harsh climate, hard physical work, loneliness and living with a family but not being of a family.

The movement was brought to a temporary halt in 1914 with the outbreak of World War I. After the war shifting attitudes saw Canada increasingly resist the schemes, in 1925 introducing a minimum ages of 14 for child migrants. Child migration to Canada formally ended by 1939 and Australia became the main destination for the children.

The following archive items relating to child migration schemes to Canada have been lent to the exhibition.

 

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