Home Children

Home Children in Huntley township

George Lawrence Anderson and Richard Donning

I’ve come across a number of Home Children while researching my Ottawa Valley ancestors. Here are two that I found living with the Morans of Huntley township.

In the 1891 census for Huntley, Lanark North, Ontario, Canada, George Anderson is found in the household of Thomas Moran (here spelled Morin) and his sister Henrietta, who farmed at Concession I, Lot 11, Huntley township:

  • Name: Anderson, George
  • Sex: M [Male]
  • Age: 18
  • Relation to Head of House: Dom [Domestic]
  • Country or Province of Birth: England
  • Pace of Birth of Father: England
  • Place of Birth of Mother: England
  • Religion: R.C. [Roman Catholic]
  • Profession, Occupation, or Trade: Farm Labourer
  • Wage Earner: Yes
  • Read: Yes
  • Write: Yes

Did he profess himself a Catholic, or did the census enumerator simply assign to him the same religion as that of the other members of the household?

As it turns out, he converted to Catholicism in 1887, at about age 15. The record is found in the parish register for St. Michael’s, Corkery, and its reference to parents “unkown to him” speaks to the poignancy of the Home Child experience:

On the eighth day of June one thousand eight hundred and eighty seven, We the undersigned parish priest of this parish, have baptized George Lawrence Anderson believed to be^ who has requested baptism and has made his profession of faith and all necessary conditions to be received into the Catholic Church whose parents were married in a protestant sect now unknown to him as also their Christian names during their life is to the best of his Knowledge fifteen years of age. The godfather was Patrick Mannion and the godmother was Eliza Tierney (Mrs P. Mannion). P. Corkery, PP [Parish Priest]

In the 1901 census for Huntley township, Lanark North, Ontario, Canada, Richard Donning [Dunning? Downing?] is found in the household of Thomas Moran (nephew of the above Thomas) and his wife Bridget (née McDermott) (surname spelled Morin in census):

  • Name: Donning, Richard
  • Sex: Male
  • Age: 15
  • Birth Day & Month: 12 July
  • Birthplace: Ireland
  • Immigration Year: 1898
  • Relation to Head of House: Domestic
  • Racial or Tribal Origin: Irish
  • Nationality: Canadian
  • Religion: R.C. [Roman Catholic]
  • Occupation: F[arm] Labourer
  • Wage Earner: Yes
  • Read: Yes
  • Write: Yes

There is an immigration record for an R. Downing amongst the online Home Child records at Library and Archives Canada:

  • Name: DOWNING
  • Given Name: R
  • Age: 13
  • Sex: M
  • Ship: Bavarian
  • Year of Arrival: 1899
  • Departure Port: Liverpool
  • Departure Date: 21 September 1899
  • Arrival Port: Quebec
  • Arrival Date: 2 October 1899
  • Party: Southwark Catholic Emigration Society
  • Destination: Ottawa, Ontario
  • Comments: 26 boys with Miss Loftus in charg

Note: From 1895 to 1930, one of the main receiving centres for Catholic Home Children was St. George’s Home (now Holy Rosary Rectory) on Wellington Street, Ottawa. As the 1901 and 1911 census returns indicate, there are therefore many Home Children found in the households of Irish and French Catholic farmers in the Ottawa area.