Young Immigrants to Canada

UWInfo | Young Immigrants | 19th Century Immigration | Genealogy | Local History

Barnardo Homes

Thomas John Barnardo was born and raised in Dublin, Ireland. As a young man, Barnardo was sent to England to train as a missionary for China. While there, it was decided that Barnardo should train as a doctor. It was at this time that Barnardo became acquainted with the problems in the East End of London and began to work in a Ragged School. As he became more involved in the work, Barnardo met others, such as Annie Macpherson, who were also interested in the plight of the children. Soon he started a home where he said no child would ever be refused admission.

Barnardo began to send children to Canada as early as 1872 through Miss Annie Macpherson's organization. In 1881, Barnardo decided to throw himself whole heartedly into the emigration effort. He visited Canada, meeting with government officials and others who were interested in the work. A home was donated in Toronto and the work was begun in earnest (the Toronto home was relocated several times). Another home was later acquired at Peterborough, Ontario, called Hazel Brae, used mainly for girls. This home would later be renamed the Margaret Cox home.

A colourful figure, Barnardo found himself in trouble with the law on a number of occasions. Sometimes it was a parent or relative who wanted a child returned and other times it was the Catholic Church who wanted Catholic children given over to them. But, through his efforts, some laws were changed to protect the children.

Until 1939, Barnardos continued to emigrate children to Canada. It was into the 1960s before they stoped emigrating to Australia. Some estimate that there were more than 20,000 children brought to Canada by Barnardos. Although it is this organization most people think of when they hear the term "home children" Barnardos was only one of many to bring some 125,000 young people to Canada.

An ad from the March 3, 1916 TheTimes, London, newspaper. (Please note that it takes a few seconds to load.)

Sometimes Barnardo Homes used other ports and here is a list from the port of Boston for 1906.

Check this out for a picture and brief history of the Russell, Manitoba farm.


You may write to Barnardo Homes at the following address for information on a young immigrant. Be very specific and give as much detail as you can. A donation to the organization would be appropriate. Check Barnardo's After Care for more information.

UWInfo | Young Immigrants | 19th Century Immigration | Genealogy | Local History

© Marjorie P. Kohli, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, 1995-2010
Last updated: October 27, 2010, and maintained by Marj Kohli