How many Home Children to Canada

Yesterday I quoted a recent BBC article. Another quote from that article is “The child migration scheme sent a group of 100,000 impoverished children from Britain to overseas colonies between 1869 and the 1940s.”

That’s “overseas colonies” not just Canada. How many of those came to Canada?

The British Home Child Registry states “an estimated over 100,000 children were emigrated from the United Kingdom to Canada.”

The graph below is compiled from data at the British Home Child Registry and archived from that site through the Wayback Machine.

Since 2020 it has remained at over 83,000 entries in the database. As stated at the site “the Registry is updated online at least weekly.” There have been adjustments, down as well as up since 2020.

Where will the additional 17,000 be found? Could there be missing years? Unfortunately it isn’t possible to search that database by year of migration.

Two other sources are worthy of attention.

Library and Archives Canada states that “Between 1869 and the late 1930s, over 100,000 juvenile migrants were sent to Canada from the British Isles during the child emigration movement.” The Home Child Records database “provides access to more than 245,000 names of Home Children from records held at Library and Archives Canada and elsewhere.”

The much larger number is because it indexes mentions. A person may be the subject of entries in different sources — passenger lists, inspection reports, lists from immigrating agencies, death compilations, and more.

A database I’d overlooked is Canada, Home Children Immigration Records Index, 1869-1930 from Findmypast. It includes 125,086 results. Findmypast acquired this collection when it purchased Mocavo in 2016.

A couple of things to watch for in this FMP database. 80 records for the Liverpool Sheltering Home have no date given. The records turn up in all years from 1869 to 1930. The total of 125,086 accounts for that. Also, the collection includes many who had no association with a home, they were just (relatively) young people. That includes my 15 year old great uncle who arrived in 1903 bound for a relative in Saskatchewan.

Some were not that young. For example, the median age of the 24 immigrants from the Dublin Union & Dublin by Lamplight Institution in 1869 is 22.5 years. Likely different sources use different ages as cut-off or other criteria such as whether the child/person came in a party brought by an agency.

I’m doubtful there were as many as 100,000 home children, as properly defined, who arrived in Canada between 1869 and the start of WW2.




3 Replies to “How many Home Children to Canada”

  1. I am also doubtful. I know one lady who told me that her mother had been counted as a Home Child, but was just traveling with Home Children to Canada. She was age 26 when she arrived, just hoping for better opportunities. She found them. Cheers, BT

  2. The numbers of Home Children also include those sent by individual groups like the Birmingham Union. My grandmother was an adult when she came to Canada so came on her own at her own expense but her siblings were part of the immigration scheme although not technically Home Children as their way was paid by the Birmingham Union and they were going to their half-sister in London, Ontario. I wonder how many children actually came in that way to Canada where they were being sent to family but had the protection of traveling with the Home Children to their destination? The Birmingham Union was quite excellent as they sent their own people to Canada to check on the children twice a year.

  3. As in your comments on this yesterday I find the documentation and graphs of great interest. This is a more complex issue than many of us ever thought, and the Special Interest Groups (SIGS) of genealogy societies should take note.

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