Ancestry UK

The Coombe, Hespeler, Ontario, Canada

Like many similar organisations, the Dublin-based children's homes run by Ellen Smyly, emigrated many children to Canada. From the 1870s onwards, Smyly used the services of Annie Macpherson who operated several receiving homes in Canada, such as the Marchmont Home in Ontario. In December, 1905, Smyly opened her own reception and distribution home at 152 Guelph Avenue, Hespeler, Ontario. The Home was named The Coombe, after one of Smyly's Dublin homes.

New arrivals could spend up to a year at the Coombe before being placed with new homes or employers. The property had 12 acres of land and the boys were occupied in activities such as gardening and poultry rearing. Fruit trees were also planted and strawberries grown, with the produce either being sold locally or preserved for use by the home itself.

Emigration was suspended during the First World War and in 1917 it was decided to sell The Coombe to the Waterloo County. It was purchased by the Waterloo County Children's Aid Society and continued in use as a children's home until 1947.


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 Smyly's homes (including emigration records) are physically held at the Representative Church Body Library in Dublin. However, access is restricted to staff of the Smyly Trust to whom initial enquiries should be directed at 15 Rock Hill, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland (+353 1 283 2071,


  • Smyly, Vivienne The Early History of Mrs Smyly's Homes and Schools (c.1976, privately published)