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Smyly Homes of Dublin, Ireland

In 1852, Mrs. Smyly began her work with the poor in Dublin, Ireland. With the assistance of Reverend Alexander Dallas, she started a day school for the children where they were given a meal and taught a rudimentary education and the Scriptures. Soon a home for boys was opened followed by one for girls. Later the Bird's Nest was opened to house infants. Several other homes followed until about 1,000 children were being cared for by Mrs. Smyly.

Starting in the 1870s Smyly Homes of Dublin sent some of their children to Canada with the Annie Macpherson organization. The children were first sent to Macpherson's home in Belleville and in Galt, Ontario. Later, when the Galt home was moved to Stratford, they were sent there. After WWI the boys came over with Fegan Homes.

In 1905, Miss Annie Smyly, the daughter of the founder, came to Stratford to visit with some of the homes former charges. She was joined there by her sister, Ellen. Ellen began to investigate the possibility of opening a home of their own. A home was purchased in Hespeler, Ontario, not far from Stratford where the children would continue to arrive. The home was the former residence of Jacob Hespeler, after whom the town had been named. There were several acres of land attached to the property and a large garden and orchard were started. (The home is still there and is now apartments. Local organizations have tried to have the property declared an historical building due to the association with Jacob Hespeler.)

Mr. George W. Tebbs was the superintendent of the home. He arrived in August, 1905, on board the S.S. Virginian, with the first group of children. The children continued to come with Macpherson parties. When Mr. Tebbs decided to become an Anglican minister, he was replaced in 1913 by Arthur P. Pullam who, like himself, had worked in the Smyly homes in Dublin. Children continued to come to Canada until the out break of war in 1914. In 1917, the home was turned over to the Children's Aid Society and the immigration of Irish orphans to Hespeler ceased.

Several of the lads from the Coombe enlisted and lost their lives in World War I. Their names were published in the Waterloo Historical Society annual volume of 1923. They were: John Birch, William Duffy, Robert Ingham, Robert Skuse, James Burke, John Douglas, Stephen Gough, James Gough (brother of Stephen), James Keith, Sam McCaw, Neville Oldfield, Andy Smith, Dick Williams, William Perkins, William Roberts, John Sims and Harold Sweeny.


Smyly Homes still exists. They can be reached at:

Smyly Homes
15 Rockhill
Co. Dublin

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