The Children of Ross Dhu –Evacuation to Canada



Photo from-Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum


During the Second World War, children and those at risk were taken to places of safety to protect them from bombs and war damage. Often when we think of evacuation we think of people evacuated from London to the countryside. However, this doesn’t tell the whole story. Some children were evacuated to other British Dominions (countries that were part of the British Empire) such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa.

In May of 2009 Stepehen Plowden from the UK wrote a letter to the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum about the fact that Elizabeth or Jane Oliver Bellasis recently had discovered a picture of English children at Ross Dhu in their family photo album. The children were under the guardianship of Hilda Martin and he felt the date of the picture was from the summer of 1942 or 1943. The youngest of the charges was born after the outbreak of the war, and she is not a baby in the picture.

ross dhu.jpg

Stoned fence of Arthur Gillies’ residence on Bridge Street built in 1873, corner of Townline still there in 1971, known as Ross Dhu. Unidentified man with a camera on top of the fence
Stoned fence of Arthur Gillies’ residence on Bridge Street built in f the fence. [148 KB, 1000 X 596]


The boy in the dark shirt at the back is Jimmy Heseltine. Next to him and smiling downwards is Thomas Charlesworth. Elizabeth is the girl on the left of the picture. Geoffrey is next to her, then Stephen Plowden, Anne Protheroe and then Jane.

In the front row left to right are: John Eddowes, William Charlesworth, Jennifer Weatherhead, Gail Mitchell Thomson and her brother Malcolm. The only person that  the author of the letter, Stephen Plowden, saw a few times was Elizabeth, and he knew her whereabouts. How did he find out what happened to Jane? Stephen visited the Carleton Place Museum in 2006 and Carleton Place resident and former curator of the Museum of Valor Ron Roe asked him too.


Because Jane was once the girlfriend of Ron Roe, and that I find was so endearing.

So where was Ross Dhu? Wendy LeBlanc who gave me this information said she thinks Ross Dhu was the home where H. B. Montgomery once lived on the corner of Bridge and Townline.

May 22– 2016 Update– Through the Public Archives we found out that  Ross Dhu was the home of Mr. David Gillies on Bridge Street at Townine in Carleton Place






 Photo- from Public Archives–“Ross Dhu”, the home of Mr. David Gillies



Mrs. David Gillies sitting on front steps of her home, Ross Dhu, Bridge St–Thanks to Jaan Kolk-Copied container numberPA-059343.  Public Archives



WW2 British Child Evacuees to Canada

For the less well-off or well-connected their chance came starting on 19 June 1940 when the UK government, responding to grassroots offers from the Empire, announced a plan for evacuation of children to Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa. The announcement read that “a total of 20,000 could be sent off immediately, of which 10,000 would go to Canada.”

CORB, the Children’s Overseas Reception Board, operated this scheme under the political leadership of Geoffrey Shakespeare, parliamentary under-secretary of state for the dominions in the Churchill government from June 1940 to March 1942. (Sarah Algeria) Marjorie Maxse was the director, described as a natural leader with clear vision and a single-minded determination to achieve her goals. She held the position from 1940 until 1944.

While self isolating, I have taken the opportunity to “declutter”. I came up with a picture I have no idea where I got it, except from my parents. I have no idea of the significance of it but I’m sure you will recognize the location.

I seem to recall hearing that Carleton Place was the host of a number of British children who, for safety reasons, emigrated to Canada during WW2. Perhaps your followers can shed some light on this…

Ray Paquette

About lindaseccaspina

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

7 responses »

  1. I am delighted to find this information as I have been researching for a while. The Hilda Martin mentioned in this post is my great aunt Hilda. She returned to England with the children and set up a home in Rottingdean, East Sussex.

    I have a copy of the passenger list – they all travelled on 24 July 1940. The baby you mention was two years old.

    I have photos of aunt Hilda when before she was guardian of these children, …I also have the old travel watch that she took to Canada with her…still ticking!!

    I would love to obtain any photos of her in Canada.

    Aunt Hilda retired to a place called South Heighton and I often visited with my family.



  2. My brother Stephen, now deceased, and I had gone a little earlier across the Atlantic, and had .been staying with American friends and cousins around Philadelphia, when my mother heard that Hilda had also come to N. America. So she was only too glad to join her, with us. I was lucky to have three years at Ashbury College, Ottawa, which gave a good start to my education. I returned to England in 1943, aged 14, and Stephen the following year. We all had a very good friend in Carleton Place, Gordon Hobbs. I hope he is alive and well.
    Geoffrey Plowden, 3rd January 2020.


  3. The only person I can now trace is Malcolm Lord Selsdon, because he is a peer in the ‘Lords. I know that Anne, Elizabeth and Stephen have died. I believe Jane’s son did very well in the Army, and once commanded the Queen’s birthday parade, but don’t know his name.


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