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.

Maria Rye. © Peter Higginbotham

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.

Our Western Home, Niagara, 1870s. © Peter Higginbotham

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.

Our Western Home, Niagara, c.1906. © Peter Higginbotham

Our Western Home, Niagara, c.1911. © Peter Higginbotham

The home was closed in 1913 and demolished in the 1920s.

Records

Note: many repositories impose a closure period of up to 100 years for records identifying individuals.

Bibliography