Ancestry UK

National Refuges Reception Homes, Ontario, Canada

The National Refuges for Homeless and Destitute Children (later known as the Shaftesbury Homes) began emigrating children to Canada in the 1840s. However, it was not until 1882 that it decided to establish its own reception and distribution home for boys. Funds were lacking to the purchase of a suitable property. Instead, a house was leased for three years in Hamilton, Ontario, where new arrivals would be housed until they found employment. It would also be available for the accommodation of old boys to use if they were ill or out of work.

The Superintendent and Matron of the London Boys' Refuge, Mr and Mrs Ward were despatched to Canada to run the new home which had 18 rooms, outhouses and a few acres of land. The Wards helped the boys find work, visited employers and recorded their progress. Silver medals were awarded to those who stayed with their employer for a year and received a good report.

Early in 1886, when the lease on the Hamilton house had run out, the Wards were anxious to continue their work in rented accommodation. Mr Ward proposed that he would try obtain a job in which he would still have the time and opportunity to look after the boys and send back regular reports back to London. The Society agreed to fund this arrangement with a payment of £100 a year.

In order to reduce their costs, the Wards subsequently moved to cheaper premises a few miles away at Wingham, Ontario. However, running the establishment on the Wards' income eventually proved impossible to sustain. The cold winters and hot summers had also become a strain on Mrs Ward's health. In 1888, they reluctantly decided to give up the home and return to England.

The Society continued to emigrate boys to Canada. In 1889, 24 boys travelled to Hamilton under the supervision of a Mr Pady, who ensured they all found suitable employed and then returned to England.


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