Macpherson Home, Knowlton, Quebec, Canada
Opened in 1872, the distributing home in Knowlton, Quebec, was the third to be set up in Canada by Miss Annie Macpherson for the initial accommodation of children emigrating from Britain. The previous two were in Ontario at Belleville (1870) and Galt (1871). The children brought over by Miss Macpherson came from her own Home of Industry in East London, and also from other agencies for homeless children such as Barnardo's.
The Knowlton home was in an attractive rural setting at the head of a lake and the mouth of a glen.
The Knowlton home was initially run by Miss Emma Barber who had assisted Miss Macpherson in the running of the London Home of Industry.
Miss Macpherson's normal practice was to bring children to Canada in parties of 150, with fifty going to each of her three homes. In 1877, however, she decided that she could use the Galt home for the whole of each party. The Knowlton home was then handed over to her sister, Mrs Louisa Birt, who ran the Liverpool Sheltering Home. Mrs Birt appointed Elizabeth Meiklejohn, the daughter of a Quebec banker, as the new superintendent of the home, a post in which she was to remain for twenty-six years.
As well as the Liverpool Sheltering Home itself, Birt's emigration parties also eventually included children from other Liverpool establishments such as workhouses and industrial schools.
In 1910, Louisa Birt made her final visit to Knowlton. With her advancing years and declining health, her work in Liverpool was taken over by her daughter Lilian Birt. The fabric of the Knowlton home was also declining and in need of refurbishment. In February 1913, a fire at the property resulted in that year's emigration parties having to use temporary accommodation on Montreal. The outbreak of the First World War brought emigration to a halt and in September 1915, a few month's after Louisa Birt's death, it was decided to close the Knowlton home and merge its operation with another Macpherson home in Stratford, Ontario.
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.
- Records for the homes run by Annie Macpherson were inherited by Barnardo's (see below). These include:
- Home of Industry, Spitalfields: History books, register and emigrant register (1870-1924)
- Annie Macpherson Home, Stratford, Ontario: Register and history books of children sent to Canada (1871-1915)
- Marchmont Homes, Canada: History books and lists (1870-1914)
- Barnardo's Family History Service deals with enquiries regarding records of individual children — various services are available costing from £25 upwards.
Making Connections — a service for those wishing to access their Barnardo's adoption records.
- Barnardo's historical administrative records are now deposited with Liverpool University's Social Welfare Archives with stringent restrictions on their access.
- Lowe, Clara M.S God's Answers: A Record of Miss Annie Macpherson's Work at the Home of Industry, Spitalfields, London, and in Canada (1882, James Nisbet)
- Bagnell, Kenneth The Little Immigrants: The Orphans Who Came to Canada (2001, Dundurn)
- Birt, Lilian M The Children's Home-Finder: the story of Annie Macpherson and Louisa Birt (1913, J. Nisbet)
- Corbett, Gail H Nation Builders: Barnardo Children in Canada (2002, Dundurn)
- Kershaw, Roger and Sacks, Janet New Lives for Old: The Story of Britain's child migrants: The Story of Britain's Home Children (2008, The National Archives)
- Kohli, Marjorie The Golden Bridge: Young Immigrants to Canada 1833-1939 (2003, Natural Heritage Books)
- McEvoy, Frederick J 'These Treasures of the Church of God': Catholic Child Immigration to Canada (in CCHA, Historical Studies, 65 (1999), 50-70)
- Parker, Roy Uprooted: The Shipment of Poor Children to Canada, 1867-1917 (2010, Policy Press)
- Barnardo, Syrie Louise, and Marchant, James Memoirs of the Late Dr Barnardo (Hodder & Stoughton, 1907)
- Batt, J.H. Dr. Barnardo: The Foster-Father of "Nobody's Children" (S.W. Partridge, 1904)
- Bready, J. Wesley Doctor Barnardo (Allen & Unwin, 1930)
- Rose, June For the Sake of the Children: Inside Dr. Barnardo's: 120 years of caring for children (Hodder & Stoughton, 1987)
- Wagner, Gillian Barnardo (Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 1979)
- The Barnardo's website.
- British Home Children in Canada.
- National Library and Archives Canada especial the Home Children section.
- Young Immigrants to Canada.
- British Home Child Group International - has database of over 23,000 Canadian British Home Children
- British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa (BIFHSGO) - has several indexes of the names of children brought to Canada by various organizations in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
- National Archives of Australia — Immigration Records.
Except where indicated, this page () © Peter Higginbotham. Contents may not be reproduced without permission.