Gibbs Home, Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada

The Gibbs Home was established by the Waifs and Strays Society in 1884 at 117 Bowen Street, Sherbrooke, Quebec. It acted as a reception and distribution for children in the care of the Society who were being emigrated to Canada. The home was named after the Gibbs family who had mad a substantial donation towards its cost.

Sherbrooke Emigration Home, 1884. © Peter Higginbotham

In October, 1884, a serious fire broke out at the home. Details of the incident were provided by the Rector of Sherbrooke:

We have not been able to trace it to any cause. It began in a loft where straw for filling beds was kept. No one had, so far as we can learn, been into the loft for at least several hours. The fire extended rapidly from this loft, despite the efforts of the Fire Brigade, which worked nobly, and the kitchen part was so seriously injured as to be rendered valueless ; while the beds, &c., were totally destroyed. The main building was chiefly injured by water and by the efforts of the firemen, to save all they could. The furniture was all removed except a few articles, such as the kitchen stove, &c., which could not be displaced readily. But great injury was done to many things, especially clothing and bedding, by breakage, water, &c. Some few things were lost. We have had 790 dollars awarded us for injury to the buildings; this, I am glad to say, will, we think, nearly, if not quite, suffice to replace the buildings injured or destroyed, and we are busily engaged getting the place clear for the builders to begin work. We fortunately had only four girls in the Home at the time, and owing to this fact and the early hour (7 p.m.) at which the fire broke out, we had no trouble in removing all to a place of safety. They are being cared for by kind friends of the Home until the repairs are done.

Sherbrooke Emigration Home, 1890. © Peter Higginbotham

In 1897, having previously housed girls, the Gibbs Home became the Society's main Receiving Home for boys in Canada, a role previously performed by the nearby Benyon Home.

Sherbrooke Emigration Home, 1903. © Peter Higginbotham

Boys at Sherbrooke Emigration Home with matron, Miss Mary Cardell, 1903. © Peter Higginbotham

In 1909, the Society's founder, Edward Rudolf, paid a visit to the Sherbrooke Home and met some of its Old Boys.

Edward Rudolf (centre rear) and Old Boys at Sherbrooke Emigration Home, 1909. © Peter Higginbotham

The home remained open during the First World War and provided hostel accommodation for its 'old boys', hundreds of whom joined the Canadian forces, and many dying at sea or in Flanders.

With a winding-down of emigration to Canada, the home was finally closed in 1933.

Records

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Bibliography

  • Bowder, Bill Children First: a photo-history of England's children in need (1980, Mowbray)
  • Church of England Waifs and Strays' Society [Rudolfe, Edward de Montjoie] The First Forty Years: a chronicle of the Church of England Waifs and Strays' Society 1881-1920 (1922, Church of England Waifs and Strays' Society / S.P.C.K.)
  • Rudolf, Mildred de Montjoie Everybody's Children: the story of the Church of England Children's Society 1921-1948 (1950, OUP)
  • Stroud, John Thirteen Penny Stamps: the story of the Church of England Children's Society (Waifs and Strays) from 1881 to the 1970s (1971, Hodder and Stoughton)
  • Morris, Lester The Violets Are Mine: Tales of an Unwanted Orphan (2011, Xlibris Corporation) — memoir of a boy growing up in several of the Society's homes (Princes Risborough, Ashdon, Hunstanton, Leicester) in the 1940s and 50s.