Our Western Home, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada
'Our Western Home' was the reception and distributing home opened on December 1st, 1869, at Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, by Miss Maria Rye, a promoter of the emigration of impoverished and orphan children to Canada.
Emigration was a route much favoured by workhouse authorities and charitable organisations as a means to provide children with a new and hopefully better life, and also creating space in their residential homes for new arrivals. Girls from workhouses were a particularly attractive proposition for Miss Rye as their passage and other costs were paid by the Board of Guardians who put them forward for emigration.
Miss Rye escorted the children (mostly girls) to Canada herself, usually in a parties of around sixty at a time. On arrival at Niagara, they were transferred to Our Western Home which was a conversion of a former gaol and court house. from there, the older girls were placed in service with local families, and the younger ones put up for for 'adoption' (not a legal process until the 1920s).
When Miss Rye retired in 1895, she donated the property to the Waifs and Strays Society, together with her reception home at Peckham.
The home was closed in 1913 and demolished in the 1920s.
Note: many repositories impose a closure period of up to 100 years for records identifying individuals. Before travelling a long distance, always check that the records you want to consult will be available.
- Emigration and Empire: The Life of Maria S. Rye (1999, Routledge)
- Bagnell, Kenneth The Little Immigrants: The Orphans Who Came to Canada (2001, Dundurn)
- Birt, Lilian M The Children's Home-Finder: the story of Annie Macpherson and Louisa Birt (1913, J. Nisbet)
- Corbett, Gail H Nation Builders: Barnardo Children in Canada (2002, Dundurn)
- Kershaw, Roger and Sacks, Janet New Lives for Old: The Story of Britain's child migrants: The Story of Britain's Home Children (2008, The National Archives)
- Kohli, Marjorie The Golden Bridge: Young Immigrants to Canada 1833-1939 (2003, Natural Heritage Books)
- McEvoy, Frederick J 'These Treasures of the Church of God': Catholic Child Immigration to Canada (in CCHA, Historical Studies, 65 (1999), 50-70)
- Parker, Roy Uprooted: The Shipment of Poor Children to Canada, 1867-1917 (2010, Policy Press)
- Maria Susan Rye entry in Dictionary of Canadian Biography
- British Home Children in Canada.
- National Library and Archives Canada especial the Home Children section.
- Young Immigrants to Canada.
- British Home Child Group International - has database of over 23,000 Canadian British Home Children
- British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa (BIFHSGO) - has several indexes of the names of children brought to Canada by various organizations in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
- National Archives of Australia — Immigration Records.
Except where indicated, this page () © Peter Higginbotham. Contents may not be reproduced without permission.