Home children and their descendants – ties to the farming community

It is estimated that between 1 in 12 to 1 in 14 people in Ontario are descendants of home children. Over 100,000 children were brought from England and Scotland between 1869 and the late 1930’s. Most were brought to Ontario and placed with families in the farming community. They were expected to provide labor in return for room and board. These children were brought over by various religious and philanthropic organizations, two of the best known being Barnardo’s and Quarrier’s.

Although these organizations had the best of intentions; to remove children from poverty and through immigration improve their lot in life, this often backfired. Once placed with a family, there was little to no follow-up. Home children were alone, lonely and more often than not, raised without the love of family and friends. Denounced in parliament as “guttersnipes”, these children were often denied schooling and when they did go to school, other children would often refuse to play with or associate with them. Despite this, the children endured. Many were placed on farms in Ontario and learned about the different aspects of farming, animal husbandry, planting, harvesting and machinery. A great many of these children, upon becoming adults, stayed in the area and became farmers in their own right. It is important to remember that there are two sides of the coin; the often harsh conditions these children faced and the productive members of society so many became in spite of their difficult beginnings in this country.

Barnardo Trunk