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Saturday, 28 September 2019

British Home Children in Manitoba

Barnardo Home near Russell, MB, 1899 (source)

September 28, 2019 is British Home Children Day and marks the 150th anniversary of a scheme that rounded up about 100,000 children, most aged 14 and under, and their "deportation" to Canada between 1869 and the mid-1930s. For many, it was a bewildering journey from a life of abject poverty in the U.K. to a life of indentured slavery in homes and farms in Canada*.

A ceremony will be held at the Manitoba Legislature at 7 pm on Sunday, September 29th.

One of the names most closely associated with the scheme in Canada was Thomas Barnardo, an Irish philanthropist. He was responsible for sending about 30,000 of the children, mainly boys, here. They became known as Barnardo's Boys.

(* The U. K. has sent their poor children abroad to colonies for centuries. The countries involved in the 1869 - 1930s wave included Canada, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa and Rhodesia - now Zimbabwe.)


The first Barnardo Home set up in Manitoba was at 115 Pacific Avenue in Winnipeg, (now demolished). Finding that city life here was sometimes no different than the life they were "rescued" from back home, Barnardo's charity bought 10,000 acres of land near Russell in 1885.

Barnardo came to visit the site in 1887 and approved the construction of an industrial farm and large house where a number of the boys would live, toil the fields and could be lent out or resettled to neighbouring farms.

After the death of Barnardo in 1905 the organization streamlined and put more of its efforts into prearranging placements for the children rather than warehouse them while looking for spaces. The farm was sold off in 1907 and the Winnipeg home relocated to smaller premises at 75 Bannerman Avenue in the North End. 

The program petered out in the early 1930s with the onset of the Depression.

October 14, 1903, Winnipeg Tribune

Links:

British Home Children in Canada Advocacy Association
Uprooted Lives The Canadian Encyclopedia
British Home Children, 1869 - 1932 Library and Archives Canada
British Home Children Canada's History
She never saw her parents again CTV Winnipeg
British Government Apology, 2010

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