British Home Child Day - September 28

photo of a british home child

View the slideshow to learn more about home children and their stories.

If you have a connection to a home child and want to share your story with us or know of a resource or link, please contact us.

Between 1869 and the late 1940s, over 100,000 orphaned and abandoned children arrived in Canada from Great Britain. Up to 70,000 settled in Ontario.

These homeless children, ages 6 months to 18, were sent by organizations who believed Canadian families would welcome them into their lives.

Many worked as farmhands and servants for room and board and faced considerable challenges and hardships. But with great courage and determination, many went on to live productive lives.

Estimates are that one in 10 Ontarians can trace their ancestry to a British home child. To recognize and honour the contributions of these children, on June 1, 2011, Ontario passed the British Home Child Day Act, designating September 28 as British Home Child Day.

Through their dedication and hard work, British home children have built a lasting legacy in Ontario that will continue to be recognized.




Personal Stories

Pier 21 is a National Historic Site which was the gateway to Canada for one million immigrants between 1928 and 1971. The Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 has collected many stories about home children’s experiences. Here are some about children sent to live in Ontario.
  • Home Child Reverend Percy Brown
  • Home Child Robert J Clapham
  • Home Child Robert Jenkinson
  • Home Child Sarah May Hyam
  • Home Child The Sheppard Children
  • Home Children The Davidson Children

If you have a connection to a home child and want to share your story with us or know of a resource or link, please contact us.

Researching home children in your family

Suggested reading


Bagnell, K., The Little Immigrants: The Orphans Who Came to Canada. Toronto: Dundurn Press, 1980, r. 2001.

Corbett, G.H., Nation Builders: Barnardo Children in Canada. Toronto: Dundurn Press, 2002.

Gilchrist, J.S., Marchmont: Distributing Home, Belleville, Ontario, 1870–1925. Belleville: Epic Press, 2003.

Harrison, P., The Home Children: Their Personal Stories. Toronto: J. Gordon Shillingford Publishers, 2003.

Kohli, M., The Golden Bridge: Young Immigrants to Canada (1833-1939). Toronto: Dundurn Press, 2003.

Non-fiction/children’s literature

Young, B., Charlie, A Home Child’s Life in Canada. Vancouver: Ronsdale Press, 2011
Beryl Young’s father was a home child who became an RCMP officer. In this book she tells his story.

Fiction/Children’s literature

Haworth-Attard, B., Home Child. Toronto: Roussan Publishers, 1996.