1936RE: British Home Children
- Aug 31, 2003I felt the point the show made was even if some/many had good homes and went
on to lead successful lives, the denial of records and connection to their
families at home left a homesickness that never went away. Can you imagine
your child being removed without your permission or knowledge from your care
and shipped off to a foreign country never to be heard from again? Or of
being that child not knowing who your family was or why you were sent away?
It is the denial of a natural need to be connected with family and the
ability to search for your roots that was so difficult for these home
children. Children were removed without their parents consent or even
knowledge. The show stated they were basically kidnapped and the governments
of Britain and Canada turned a blind eye. Not only that, but the British
government passed a law that made it legal to remove children without
parental permission from their homes and families to be shipped overseas.
Thus it became legalized kidnapping and a horrible denial of basic human
rights even though most involved stated they were solving rather than
creating problems. One of the interviewees said Bernardo truly thought he
was fulfilling his Christian mission and that his actions were in the
families' and childrens' best interests to do so.
I was about to relate my own personal experience and why I have such empathy
for the home children but I know the messages are available publicly on the
Internet. So just suffice it to say I was separated from my parents and most
of my siblings when I was aged 5. This left wounds that perhaps have never
healed though I have made peace with it and understand that the only person
it hurts when you hold a grudge is you.
I am not trying to discourage you from reading "The Little Immigrants" or
Perry Snow's book just because the subject matter is painful. I believe it
is as important a part of our history as the deportation of the Acadians,
the lost of rights suffered by the Japanese and Ukrainian families during
the war years, and the treatment of natives and Metis while our country was
All these are part of our history and another old saw I believe in is "what
doesn't kill you makes you stronger". The positive in these stories for me
is that the suffering of our immigrant ancestors has made Canada what it is
today and we are a strong bunch!
There are so many stories like this even on a smaller scale and I am sure
that many of us can relay tales of how our immigrant ancestors faced and
overcame hardships so their children and other descendants could have a
better life. My grandmother left her two month old daughter behind with her
mother when she came to Canada with her husband and my father because they
were led to believe they would become rich in three years and return home
never to have to worry about making a living again. My grandmother was 24
then and she died at age 83 never having seen her parents, siblings or other
relatives again. She was always homesick for what she called "the old
country" and her family.
She did see her baby daughter again but not until this daughter was in her
forties and came to Canada. This aunt told me she was well-cared for by her
grandmother but that she never overcame the losing her parents as a child.
She thought there was something wrong with her that her own mother abandoned
Well guess I did share a bit more than I had intended and I will
nevertheless send this because to me the search for my roots is more than
just finding the "hatched, matched and dispatched" records of my ancestors.
Learning the human emotional side of the past, I realize and appreciate what
my immigrant ancestors gave up in order that they could have more than "a
teaspoon of land" as my grandaunt wrote in her diary.
[mailto:owner-dist-gen@...]On Behalf Of Donna Coulter
Sent: August 30, 2003 9:39 AM
To: dist-gen@...; Rene Dussome
Subject: Re: British Home Children
Yes Rene-- It is nice to be reminded that there were some
success or happy stories that could / can be told about the
Children. I wish that I had asked more questions about the
Home Boy's that were with my great grandparents. There were
never any horror stories about them,-- both fought in the
WW -- I should check the WW records.
One stayed in England and the other found work in Ontario
after the war. I haven't had any success finding any
descendants but I haven't really tried.
There was some discrimination, as we would call it now, but
was only that they ate at a different table. That I believe
norm for the 'help' in that day and age--. Or maybe the
table was too
They also got an education, as much as anyone else in the
I was able to correspond with the Barnard Home and was given
an insight from that angle. No doubt they would avoid
telling it all,
but it was enlightening.
I must read "Little Immigrants" I might feel better about it
Thanks for bringing it to my attention Xenia, I had avoided
I was afraid it would be too depressing. There seems to be
negative thought about everything. There must have been many
Christian homes that took the children in out of the
goodness of their heart.
Too often bitter memories last longer than happy ones for
From the heart
----- Original Message -----
From: "Rene Dussome" <rdussome@...>
To: "dist-gen" <dist-gen@...>
Sent: 29 August, 2003 11:04 PM
Subject: British Home Children
> Unfortunately, I did not read Mary Arthur's e-mail in time
to watch the
> program this evening. Nor did I pick up the item from the
> Having read about the Home Children scheme extensively in
the past, I am
> fully aware of the many sad experiences suffered by the
> However, I would remind AFHS members that our own dearly
> the late Ruth Duncan, shared a success story with us, that
of her mother
> and her mother's twin sister - Margaret and Harriet
Sutton. (See AFHS
> Journal Winter 94/95 volume 15 number 2.)
> Rene Dussome
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