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British Home Children sent to Canada

A new (lengthy) project I am undertaking -
I am compiling a folder of all the children that were emigrated to Canada from the Sheffield Scattered Homes at Fir Vale Workhouse (Sheffield Union) via the various agencies including Dr Barnardos and the Catholic Emigrating Society. I already have quite few names and some details of these children and the reasons they ended up in the Workhouse system. Some had parent(s) still alive or siblings they were separated from, many thought they were orphans but were not. Some had good lives, some did not and were treated as servants. J Wycliffe Wilson, one of the Guardians of the Scattered Homes in Sheffield, did attempt to keep in touch by letter with the children, giving them news of other children they had been in the homes with.

Many of the boys returned to England as young men to fight in WW1, some of whom were killed or wounded, their main purpose being to try and reconnect with the family they had lost.
It would be nice to hear from anyone who has a British Home Child in their family tree.

There are quite a few Canadian records online but trawling through them is a nightmare as they are not indexed and at times only give vague details. It is said that around 12% of Canadians are descended from British Home Children and they remember them on 28th Sept each year, the sunflower is their symbol. These children are an important part of our social history in Canada, England and Sheffield and I think it is important they are remembered over here too.
The children, as adults, hid their past history from their families as they felt it was something to be ashamed of. Many Canadians are only now learning why their grandparents/parents would not/could not, tell them about thier past. The main period I am researching is from around 1903 - 1920s. It could be that some were sent out even earlier.
Many thanks

Re: British Home Children sent to Canada

Two of my Grandmothers brothers Walter and Arcie Webb were taken in by Barnardos after their parents died and sent to Canada - sailed from Liverpool on 25-Feb-1909 on the ship Dominion and arrived in Portland 7-Mar-1909
They were 15 and 13 at the time and had just lost both parents in a 9 month period between Aug-1907 and May-1908 - their Father (Wallie) committed suicide by hanging himself after his wife died so they must have been in terrible state
Their elder brother William was also supposed to be transported but ran away to sea
I have had little joy tracing them via the Canadian Census records and believe that Archie came back to the UK but I remember my Grandmother (their sister)used to send letters and parcels to Saskatchewan

Any news would be great

Dave Westnage

Re: British Home Children sent to Canada

Were they sent from Sheffield intially?
The Guardians would adopt the children in the Cottage Homes and then as part of the process the children were sent to other agencies for a couple of months or so before they were sent out to Canada. I am only researching children with Sheffield links. That is a big enough task to last me out.

Re: British Home Children sent to Canada

My great uncle was sent out to Canada from Fir Vale Workhouse in 1908, via Fr Berry's Homes (RC). He was killed on the Somme in 1918, in the Quebec Regiment.

I will get his details together and email them to you.


Re: British Home Children sent to Canada

Hi Lyn,
I have a relative, my father's half brother Ernest Eaton born September 1911 who was sent to Canada as a "Home Child" from Fir Vale.
My limited research shows that he departed Liverpool May 1926 for Quebec. He subsequently married a Canadian Dorothy Bainbridge in 1933.
His parents were both still alive when he was placed in Fir Vale along with his brother. His parents had separated, his father John Henry Eaton placed him in Fir Vale.
I believe he returned to Sheffield at some point.

Marlene C.

Re: British Home Children sent to Canada

Many thanks to you all. My email address is available if you click on the email link.
Marlene - I have come across Ernest Eaton as one who was sent but as yet have no further details on him apart from this link which gives some good info. -

Being 15 when he was sent means they only did one inspection after he was placed. It is much easier to find out details of the ones who can be found in censuses here and in Canada if it is between the homes being built and WW1 if they served by joining the Expeditionary force in Canada.
Kevin look forwards to hearing from you.
Dave I did a quick search for the Webbs with no joy - were they from Sheffield?

Re: British Home Children sent to Canada

Kevin - have emailed you a photo - let me know if you received it as my emails have been playing up a bit.