Trenholm 2Overlooked by many, and perhaps unknown to a great deal of Canadians, are GreatBritain’s “pauper emigrant children”, or Home Children—the tens of thousands of children thatwere sent in droves from the British Isles to her colonies abroad. Beginning in the early 19
century, many of these Home Children arrived in Canada to start a new life, either in the urbancentres where population was growing rapidly, or more likely working as labourers in Canada’suntamed West.
Many of these children—aged between two and nineteen years
—left behinddestitute conditions in many impoverished urban areas in Great Britain. The IndustrialRevolution ushered in intense poverty for many rural families that had moved to the major metropolises of Britain; many parents were faced with great difficulty in clothing and feedingtheir children, and bereft of steady employment many of these children found themselvesorphaned and left on the streets to fend for themselves.
Having these children transported toBritain’s colonies was considered an acceptable solution, not only for the problem of poverty inEngland’s cities, but also for the struggling population and demand for immigration in Britain’sterritorial possession overseas. Canada, South Africa and Australia were all craving for moreimmigrants for their farms and developing industrial sectors—tens of thousands of disadvantaged children from Britain could help satiate immigration concerns abroad, but it couldalso help sweep the streets of the child-paupers who had made it their home. Naturally, Canadahad no issue welcoming these children, especially when they were ushered into homes beyondUpper Canada and into Rupert’s Land—land that needed farm labourers and agriculturalists totame and expand the colony’s boundaries. Many evangelical and philanthropic Britons dedicated
The Golden Bridge: Young Immigrants in Canada, 1833-1939
(Toronto: National Heritage Books,2003), 11.
Young Immigrants to Canada (including home children)
The Golden Bridge,