Tree planting celebrates British Home Children
A native red maple sapling was planted and dedicated last week at the Kenyon Cemetery in honour of George Fleming ( 1882 - 1947), a British Home Child who arrived in Canada at the tender age of four, was sent to a receiving centre, and then moved on to a farm just east of Kenyon Presbyterian Church in Dunvegan.
The tree dedication took place at the annual general meeting and dinner of the Ontario East British Home Child Family Group ( OEBHCF) held in Kenyon Church Hall in Dunvegan.
Mr. Fleming’s grandson Walter Hambleton who grew up in Glen Robertson and lives on a farm outside Lunenburg, attended the dedication in honour of his mother’s father, thanking the church for permitting the tree planting and the Kenyon Women's Association for serving a lovely ham dinner in the church hall.
Thirty-one members of OEBHCF attended the lunch and dedication, each one related to or connected to a British Home Child.
Judy Neville, current president of the Ontario East British Home Child Family Group, help spearhead the group in 2012, two years after her brother, former StormontDundas-South Glengarry MPP Jim Brownell moved second reading of his bill to proclaim Sept. 28 each year as British Home Child Day. Last year SD& G MP Guy Lauzon also succeeded in his private member’s motion calling for a national British Home Day.
Among the people attending the AGM and dedication were brothers Garry and Murray Howes whose grandmother Phyllis Ann Simpson who was born circa 1878 at Newcastle on Tyne in England and arrived in Canada at age 17 where she worked for the Howard Durant family in Vankleek Hill before marrying George Thomas Barton. The couple had 13 children.
Peter Jack and his wife Lynda of Maxville who are very active in the Ontario East Group attended. Mr. Jack’s grandfather, David Rait Jack ( 1883 - 1963) was 14 when he and his three siblings arrived in Canada as true orphans from Glasgow.
From the Quarrier Homes, Bridge of Weir, in Scotland, David Jack was sent by ship to Halifax in 1897 and then sent to the William Quarrier Home in Brockville, Ontario. From there he was placed with a family outside Pakenham, Ontario, where he would stay until he ran away after he was 16.
In a testament to the human spirit, David Rait Jack ended up in Montreal where he married, had six children, and in 1919, built a home in Pointe Claire where he lived until his death. His career as a printing sales 1 representative for the Canadian newspaper publisher Southam stretched across Canada. When he retired, his son Roy continued in the same job for Southam.
Today, Peter Jack and his wife Lynda continue to research the life and origins of David Rait Jack, also giving presentations in schools, seniors’ residences and various organizations.
Jim Brownell and his siblings Tom Brownell and Judy Neville are the grandchildren of Mary Scott Pearson who was 13 when she arrived as an orphan in Halifax in 1891. From there she would travel to the Fairknowe Home in Brockville, Ont., a receiving house for orphans sent to Canada from Scotland.
Like many of the Home Children who endured the hardship of their childhood, Mary Scott Pearson went on to live a productive life.
Canada proclaimed 2010 the Year of the British Home Child and the Canadian Post Office issued an honorary stamp in October in that year to ensure the past is not forgotten.
The online British Home Children Advocacy & Research Association ( BHCARA) holds the names of over 61,000 names.
Anyone looking for information about their home children ancestors can search the registry online at www.britishhomechildren.com
Library and Archives Canada ( LAC) holds unique and extensive records about British Home Children, such as passenger lists, Immigration Branch correspondence files and inspection reports, non- government collections such as the Middlemore Home fonds, as well as indexes to some records held in the United Kingdom.
To learn more about further resources available to people researching their home children ancestors, consider joining the Ontario East British Home Child Family Group.
The OEBHCF has exhibits at the Aultsville Train Station and can be reached at onteastbritishhomechildfamily.com or by emailing OEBHCF president Judy Neville at [email protected]
MEMORIAL TREE: Members of the Ontario East British Home Child Family Group gather at Kenyon Presbyterian Church Cemetery in Dunvegan to dedicate a native red maple in memory of British Home Child, George Fleming, a British Home Child who came to Canada in 1886 and was raised on a farm just east of Dunvegan.