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On the one hand, people such as Annie Macpherson wanted only the best for poor London children, and spent their own money on these emigration schemes; on the other, their naivety was pretty unforgiveable and even when clear cases of assault, neglect, abuse and overwork were shown to them, they preferred to believe that everything would be alright and that things would just sort themselves out.A government inspector, Andrew Doyle, came out from London to try to follow up on some of the children.Me, left, and John Jefkins, right, talking about his father, Albert, a British Home Child emigrated to Canada We had around 120 attendees at the British Home Child Commemoration Event at the Waterloo Regional Museum at Doon Pioneer Village, Ontario, yesterday.
There’s something relentless about lists; detail upon detail is piled up here – a catalogue of misery, made all the more powerful by the cool, disinterested nature of the inquirers.‘Very reserved.’ • Burks, widowed mantle maker, 2 children, earns 5 shillings a week but sometimes 3 and a half shillings. ‘Very decent.’ • Ellis Pub — The Admiral Vernon No 7 • Noble, a widow, in bed on the floor with rheumatic gout, does needlework when she can, one son disabled through accident, another at a sawmills, one grandchild with them, been here nine years, ‘very poor.’ • Church, a hawker No 10 • Spall, car-man, in bed with rheumatism, wife and 8 children, only one at work, one very ill, ‘not expected to live’. ‘Complained of the danger of Old Nichol Street and mentioned recent cases of robbery there.’ No 38 • Deakins, wife and child. Is to have a block of buildings if his friend succeeds in the suit.Here 9 years, ‘Have been assisted medically.’ • Bordon, French-descended weavers, elderly man and wife both at work at their looms. Wife showed visitor a lot of documents and a deed of gift on parchment.Many people in Britain and Canada are aware of the government enquiry and subsequent apology that was given to the British children who were shipped out to Australia and abused, exploited and neglected.While the poor treatment of many of the Canadian Home Children tended not to be on that larger, institutional scale, nevertheless, there is a growing call, spearheaded by The British Home Children Advocacy and Research Association ( for Canada similarly to recognise the suffering and to commit to a full inquiry and apology. Among the charity workers I came across was Annie Macpherson (pictured below), who ran refuges for street girls and boys, taught them the basics of a trade, and a basic education.