Ancestry UK

Fairknowe Home, Brockville, Ontario, Canada

Like many other establishments for destitute or orphan children, the homes set up by William Quarrier, such as those at the Bridge of Weir, used emigration as a means of dealing with many of the children that came through their doors. In 1872, Quarrier's first party of sixty emigrants travelled to Canada on the St David and were received in distributing homes at Belleville, Galt and Knowlton that had been set up by emigration promoter Annie Macpherson.

Similar arrangements continued until 1888 when Quarrier opened his own reception home in Canada, in a property called Fairknowe on First Avenue (now Fairknowe Drive) in Brockville, Ontario. The house, with sixteen acres of land, mostly wooded, stood close to the St Lawrence River. Fairknowe was superintended by Quarrier's daughter Agnes and her husband James Burges. James' brother Alexander was also employed at the home, periodically visiting all the children that had been placed with new families by the home, to check on their well being.

Emigration from William Quarrier's homes halted in around 1897 after he objected to new regulations introduced by the Ontario government which placed restrictions on the immigration of children into Canada. After Quarrier's death in 1903, however, his daughters Agnes and Mary resumed the operation with the first parties travelling to Fairknowe in 1905. Apart from a temporary break during the First World War, the home continued in operation until Agnes' death in 1934. Although Fairknowe was then sold off, small parties of Quarrier's children continued come to Canada until 1938 by which time a total of around seven thousand had made the crossing since 1872.

Fairknowe still stands, now converted into flats.


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.

  • Quarriers Genalogy and Records Service offers free checks for the existence of a particular individual's records. A fee is only payable to obtain a copy of the records.
  • 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)