Young Immigrants to Canada

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Maria Susan Rye

Maria Susan Rye was born in 1829, the daughter of a London solicitor. Miss Rye became very active in women's issue and started training women as law stationries and copiers. In 1861, she travelled to New Zealand and Australia with a party of these women and helped them find work. In June of 1868, she took a party of women to Canada and obtained situations for them.

In late 1869, Miss Rye opened her Canadian home. The year previous, on her trip to Canada, Miss Rye had purchased the old court house and goal in Niagara-on-the-Lake. This building was converted into a distributing home which housed 120 children. The home was called Our Western Home. Avenue House, High Street, Peckham, London, where she took in young destitute girls and gave them a basic education, followed.

November of 1869, saw Miss Rye on her way to Canada with the first of her children. Many of the children in this party were from the Kirkdale Industrial School. These children were placed in the Niagara-St. Catharines area as well as in Hamilton, Toronto, Chatham, Guelph, Mount Forest, Arthur, Woodstock, London, Newcastle, Port Stanley, Sherwood, and Petrolia, Ontario. There were also children placed in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec and some into the United States. The St. John, N.B. Daily Telegraph of November 14, reported it this way:

The children brought over By Miss Rye have some of them been taken to their new homes in the city and different parts of the province. The remainder are at the Protestant Orphan Asylum, awaiting their guardians' arrival. The children are all smart and intelligent looking, and can all read, write, and sing. When the Peruvian was about leaving Quebec for Montreal, Captain Smith went to the railway station at Point Levi, to say good-bye to Miss Rye. So kind had he been to the children on the passage out that they gathered about him, and it was with difficulty that he cleared himself of them; and after he had gone away and they knew they should not see him again, their little faces shewed the sadness they felt at losing so kind a friend. With more than ordinary thoughtfulness, and induced, no doubt, by his knowledge of their condition, he furnished them with sufficient bread, meat, etc., to keep them from being hungry on the way to Portland, where they all arrived in good spirits, though very tired from the sea voyage, immediately followed by their railway trip.

Mr. Gregan, of New York, at once took charge of them and ordered beds to be spread for them in the ladies' cabin, while supper was made ready, to which they did ample justice. We trust that Miss Rye will be induced to bring another troop of these fine children to homes which are always awaiting them in this province, and that as their experience amongst other people become known in Great Britain their older relatives may find it to their interest to come over also and avail themselves of the advantages which New Brunswick offers to the industrious settler. Mr. Shives expects that those who have applied will call for the girls now in his charge before Saturday next.

Miss Rye placed over 5,000 children, mostly girls, in many parts of Canada and the United States. In 1895 she turned her home and work over to the Church of England Waifs and Strays Society.


Miss Rye's home was taken over by the Church of England Waifs and Strays Society but no one is sure where the records are located or if they survived. However, those records are being recreated by Gail Colins and Chris Sanham. For more information contact Chris Sanham.

You may also want to check out the holdings of the University of Liverpool, Social Work Archives as they have some material on Maria Rye.

In 1877 the Illustrated London News printed this story about Miss Rye.

Lists of Children:

In The News

These items about Miss Rye have been extracted from various newspapers.

If any one has additional information on any of these children please contact me.

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

© Marjorie P. Kohli, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, 1997-2010
Last updated: October 26, 2010, and maintained by Marj Kohli