Everyone dreams of a brighter future for children. Anne MacPherson, a Scottish Evangelical Quaker who lived from 1833 to 1904 founded the British Home Children program with her sister Louisa Birt.

The program was intended to take poor and orphaned children off the streets, feed and teach them a trade, and then send them to the British Colonies: mainly Australia, Canada, South Africa, Virginia, and New Zealand; where they could have a better life and a brighter future. The reality of the situation didn’t work out quite as well as planned.

Did you know?

  1. The British Home Children program operated in Canada between 1869 and 1948.
  2. Over the life of the program, approximately 100,000 children were sent to Canada.
  3. While the children sent to Canada were poor, not all were orphans.
  4. Some families would surrender their children to a home temporarily due to hard times, and later find that the child had been shipped to the colonies.
  5. While some children were adopted into loving homes, many others were viewed only as a source of free labour, essentially becoming indentured farm workers or domestic servants.
  6. Children in those situations could suffer neglect, abuse (both emotional and physical), and intense loneliness.
  7. Canada ceased accepting any Home Children under age 14 after three committed suicide in 1923 and 1924.
  8. However, Canada continued accepting older Home Children from the program until 1948.
  9. It is estimated that approximately 12% of all Canadians are descended from Home Children.
  10. After being raised in parliament a number of times, the Canadian House of Commons finally issued a formal apology to British Home Children on Feb 16, 2017