Ancestry UK

1078 Main Street, Ontario, Canada

In 1872-73, a house at 1078 Main Street in Hamilton, Ontario, was established as the Canadian headquarters of the Children's Home (best-known by its later title of the National Children's Home, or NCH). The house was also a reception home for the stream of children being emigrated by the NCH over the following six decades.

An NCH emigration party setting sail for Canada, c.1905. © Peter Higginbotham

The first party of forty-nine NCH children travelled from Britain in 1873 under the supervision of Francis Horner, one of the NCH's co-founders, and stayed at the home prior to being settled with families and workplaces. A group of thirty girls and ten boys arrived the following year with the NCH founder and Principal, Thomas Bowman Stephenson. By 1909, a total of 2,157 children had passed through the home's doors.

Children and staff at 1078 Main Street, Ontario, c.1900. © Peter Higginbotham

Children from NCH Ontario Home off to school, c.1900. © Peter Higginbotham

A boy from the home setting off for his first employment, c.1905. © Peter Higginbotham

Increasing restrictions on the migration of children to Canada led to a decline in the numbers at the home and it closed in 1935.


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.

  • Action For Children (formerly the National Children's Home). Can provide access to their own records for individuals who were adopted through the charity or who resided in one of its homes. Help also for those searching for family history information.


  • Bradfield, William The Life of the Reverend Thomas Bowman Stephenson (1913, Kelly)
  • Curnock, Nehemiah The Story of the Children's Home (C.H. Kelly, 1901)
  • Higginbotham, Peter Children's Homes: A History of Institutional Care for Britain's Young (2017, Pen & Sword)
  • Horner, Francis Shadow and Sun (Epworth Press, 1920)
  • Howard, Philip J Philip: a Strange Child (Dalkeith Publishing, 2007)
  • Philpot, Terry Action For Children (Lion, 1994)
  • Walpole, Cecil F. Golden Links (Epworth Press, 1941)