The Home for Friendless Women

The Home for Friendless Women


Public Archives Photo from Lost Ottawa

“Any girl or woman desiring to forsake a life of sin will find a helping hand and shelter if needed at the Home for Friendless Women, 412 Wellington Street” was the notice that ran regularly in the Ottawa Citizen’s classified advertisements through the 1880s. It was more like a workhouse, operating as a laundry, than a place for women to find shelter.  Shortly after opening they were processing over 80,000 pieces a year, by 1900 10,000 pieces a month.


The Ironing room of Ottawa’s Home for Friendless Women opened in February of 1895 and was established by the Women’s Christian Temperance Union in 1888, to provide a place of succour for “fallen” or otherwise destitute women. In the days before social services, and you were a fallen woman you had no where else to go. In its first year it was home to 6 discharged prisoners, 9 unemployed servants and 2 destitute mothers with 3 children.  The women did laundry on a more or less industrial scale to earn their keep.

In the 1920’s the home would move to another building which is now Cambridge Street. In Beechwood Cemetery, there is a stone marking “The Home for Friendless Women Plot”.




Article sent by Debora Cloutier—Lost Ottawa


Block with the Home for the Friendless Women at 412 Wellington, in 1891.In previous entries, the locations given was 660. However, this does not correspond with the information found in the accession file. As one Heritage Ottawa document point out, the existence of the home for so long points to ongoing social conditions. (LAC PA-011254).



Related reading:


I am a Laundry Girl

Embroidery of the Insane?

Did You Know About the House of Industry?



The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
16 Dec 1986, Tue  •  Page 6

About lindaseccaspina

Linda Knight Seccaspina was born in Cowansville, Quebec about the same time as the wheel was invented and the first time she realized she could tell a tale was when she got caught passing her smutty stories around in Grade 7 at CHS by Mrs. Blinn. When Derek "Wheels" Wheeler from Degrassi Jr. High died in 2010, Linda wrote her own obituary. Some people said she should think about a career in writing obituaries. Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa from 1976-1996. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off she finally found her calling. Is it sex drugs and rock n' roll you might ask? No, it is history. Seeing that her very first boyfriend in Grade 5 (who she won a Twist contest with in the 60s) is the head of the Brome Misissiquoi Historical Society and also specializes in local history back in Quebec, she finds that quite funny. She writes every single day and is also a columnist for Hometown News and Screamin's Mamas. She is a volunteer for the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum, an admin for the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page, and a local guest speaker. She has been now labelled an historian by the locals which in her mind is wrong. You see she will never be like the iconic local Lanark County historian Howard Morton Brown, nor like famed local writer Mary Cook. She proudly calls herself The National Enquirer Historical writer of Lanark County, and that she can live with. Linda has been called the most stubborn woman in Lanark County, and has requested her ashes to be distributed in any Casino parking lot as close to any Wheel of Fortune machine as you can get. But since she wrote her obituary, most people assume she's already dead. Linda has published six books, "Menopausal Woman From the Corn," "Cowansville High Misremembered," "Naked Yoga, Twinkies and Celebrities," "Cancer Calls Collect," "The Tilted Kilt-Vintage Whispers of Carleton Place," and "Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac." All are available at Amazon in paperback and Kindle. Linda's books are for sale on Amazon or at Wisteria · 62 Bridge Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada, and at the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum · 267 Edmund Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada--Appleton Museum-Mississippi Textile Mill and Mill Street Books and Heritage House Museum and The Artists Loft in Smith Falls.

6 responses »

  1. This is so sad. They just closed the homeless shelter in Smiths Falls, for expectant mothers. They did an amazing job teaching these moms, helping them through high school. It’s so sad.

  2. Linda thank you so much for writing this!! I just discovered today – like ten minutes ago – that my Great Grandmother lived at this Home for Friendless Women in 1891 with a 5 month old son. (I have the census records if you like). She is an enigma for sure – cannot find any records on her in Scotland, where she was born. I’ve been doing genealogy research for 20 years so I’m not about to stop though 🙂


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