Tag Archives: adoption

Today’s Child — A Look Back

Today’s Child — A Look Back

1979 Ottawa Citizen

The Ottawa Citizen

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada28 Mar 1983, Mon  •  Page 13

Is Today’s Child still active?

Today’s Child

Today’s Child is a monthly photolisting feature published in the Toronto Star. It is a Ministry of Children and Youth Services program, supported by AdoptOntario™.

As a child-focused recruitment strategy, Today’s Child is intended to help raise awareness about the need for permanent families for children in foster care while also seeking a family for a specific child.

All Today’s Child publications in the Toronto Star must be approved by an adoption officer of the Ministry of Children and Youth Services, Private and International Adoption Unit, and a designate from the Communications Branch of that Ministry. The Toronto Star editorial department reserves the right to edit the profiles as some privacy laws dictate how a child is presented and may also dictate the wording that can be used to describe a child. AdoptOntario clinical coordinators work with the ministry staff to complete the column each month.

Newspaper Columns of the Past- Today’s Child- Helen Allen

Adoption 1960’s Style –MJ Whittaker

Sad Memories of the Waifs and Strays Society

Canadians Just Wanted to Use me as a Scullery-Maid

Laundry Babies – Black Market Baby BMH 5-7-66

Did You Know About Dr. Barnardo’s Baby’s Castle? British Home Children — Home Boys

More Unwed Mother Stories — Peacock Babies

British Home Children – Quebec Assoc click

Ontario East British Home Child Family click

British Home Children Advocacy & Research Association click

The Wright Brothers– British Home Children

Home Boys and Family–Mallindine Family — Larry Clark

Clippings of the Barnardo Home Boys and Girls

Lily Roberts of Drummond The Rest of the Story

Adoption 1960’s Style –MJ Whittaker

Adoption 1960’s Style –MJ Whittaker

The Ottawa Journal
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
09 Aug 1967, Wed  •  Page 35

Hi not sure I sent this to you. Thought you might find it interesting, This is what the Children’s Aid did in the 1960’s to get kids adopted. This is me and my sister and brothers’ and this how we became adopted by the Camerons in 1967. MJ Whittaker

The Ottawa Journal
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
09 Aug 1967, Wed  •  Page 35

It was also posted in a Toronto paper in Feb 1967 but I have not been able to find that one. They also took us to Toronto to be on that show hosted by Dave Devall , Family Finders

A Day With Children’s Aid in “Squatter’s Paradise” Tunney’s Pasture

Newspaper Columns of the Past- Today’s Child- Helen Allen

Remembering Evelyn Clark — Larry Clark

Remembering Evelyn Clark — Larry Clark
The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
01 Feb 1969, Sat  •  Page 1

There was an attempt at some point to have my mother being given credit for her heroics for the house fire in 1969, but nothing came of it. ( read-The Heroine of Lake Ave East — 1969) Personally I just wanted to forget about it. All my efforts were directed to getting Dad back on his feet. The community helped considerably. As long as I can remember she looked after the children of others; in some part to supplement her income, but mostly because of her love of children in distress. It seemed to run in the family as her father Alfred was a “Home Boy” (Barnardos). (Read Canadians Just Wanted to Use me as a Scullery-Maid)

Afred- The first photo is of my grandfather taken on his entry into Barnardos care–photo Larry Clark courtesy Lost and Found by BY JESSICA ROSE | NOVEMBER 27, 2017

My mother’s mother died of typhoid in 1917 (Smiths Falls Hospital but they lived on Moffat St) and a year later my mother and an older brother were put up for adoption. An older daughter was kept another 4 years, I believe the Spanish flu may have been a factor as my grandfather became ill and had trouble keeping the family together. Long story being chronicled somewhat by my granddaughter, currently living in Lisbon engaged in writing a book about her adoption and includes the Mallindine family history.  We were not told of this granddaughter until she was 38. She was adopted by a Jewish family and her name is Jessica Rose.. ( Lost and Found by BY JESSICA ROSE | NOVEMBER 27, 2017)

Larry Clark and his wife Beth 1958-photo Larry Clark courtesy Lost and Found by BY JESSICA ROSE | NOVEMBER 27, 2017 The other is of Beth and I taken in an upstair’s neighbours apt (above us)-first hame in France Aug 1959.

Related stories-The Heroine of Lake Ave East — 1969

Lost and Found by BY JESSICA ROSE | NOVEMBER 27, 2017

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
01 Feb 1969, Sat  •  Page 1

A woman and her 21-month-old granddaughter were killed and two other children thrown to safety near here Friday when fire tore through their frame farmhouse. Dead are Mrs. Evelyn Clark, 53, and Darlene Warren, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Donald Warren who live in a farmhouse adjacent to the Clark home about one-half mile east of here.

Two foster children who had been living with the Clarks, Gilbert Warwick, 4, and David . Forget, 2, were flung from a second-storey bedroom window by Mrs. Clark before flames reached them. The children both were permanent wards of the Perth District Children’s Aid Society were not seriously injured. Gilbert is staying with friends of the family and David is under observation in Carleton Place and District Hospital.

Mrs. Clark was not seen at the bedroom window again and it is presumed she was engulfed in the flames as they spread through to the second floor as she was trying to rescue her granddaughter. The wood-frame house was an inferno in a matter of minutes, firemen from Beckwith volunteer fire department reported. Two hours after the 1.30 p.m. blaze was reported, the building was razed. . Mrs. Clark’s husband, Norman, 54, two of their own children and two other foster children were away from home at the time of the fire. Relatives said the granddaughter was staying with Mrs. Clark because her mother was undergoing surgery in hospital here. Fire Chief Bob Brooks said that by the time firefighters arrived at 1.40 p.m. there was little they could do. Cause of the fire is under investigation by the Ontario. Fire Marshal’s Office. Lanark County Coroner Dr. W. J. Hanham has ordered an inquest into the deaths.

Larry Clark Memories : Billings Bridge, Willow Trees and the Orange Lodge

Glory Days in Carleton Place– Larry Clark

Larry Clark — Your Veribest Agent

A Personal Story — Caught in the Ice– Rocky Point- Larry Clark

Newspaper Columns of the Past- Today’s Child- Helen Allen

Newspaper Columns of the Past- Today’s Child- Helen Allen


Tom Edwards wrote a few weeks ago on Facebook that he read the column “Today’s Child”. I had never heard of it so I decided to do some sleuthing and found out how popular Helen Allen was.

Once referred to as the “fairy godmother of adoption,” journalist Helen Allen tirelessly worked for 18 years to find homes for 11,000 children who had no parents or relatives to take care of them. In her column, Today’s Child — which began in the now-defunct Toronto Telegram but later continued in the Star and other local papers like the Ottawa Journal.

The Globe and Mail, for one, publicized the plight of war orphans and was able to brag that its efforts meant 181 homes had been found. Not to be outdone, the Toronto Telegram started putting Helen Allen’s “Today’s Child” column on its front page, with its heart-wrenching details of the needs of these kids.

Adoption crusader Helen Allen died in Toronto on Nov. 9, 2006 at the age of 99.

Her work on behalf of domestic adoption in Canada garnered her many awards. The most recent was a Special Achievement Award from the North American Council on Adoptable Children in 2005.

Helen Allen was honoured for her pioneering work with the “Today’s Child” newspaper column. Today, it’s a fixture at the Toronto Star, which since 1971 has featured the pictures and profiles of children awaiting adoption.

But when Ms. Allen, then a reporter for the Toronto Telegram, launched “Today’s Child” in June 1964 it met with skepticism from the Children’s Aid Societies of the day, who balked at the idea of parading their children before the public. Three of the 51 CASs did take part — Hamilton, Kenora and Toronto — and the daily column became a success. Other daily and weekly papers in Ontario picked up the column and in 1968 Ms. Allen launched a television version on CFTO-TV, “Family Finder”.

Columnist Helen Allen treasures this picture of Albert, 4, a cystic fibrosis victim, that appeared in the Today’s Child column three years ago. Six months later, a Newfoundland family saw him in an old copy of The Star wrapped around a parcel from Toronto, and adopted him. Cooper, David–Picture, 1981–Toronto Star Photo Archive

Helen Allen received many honours. She was named to the Order of Canada and received an honorary doctorate from York University and the Award of Merit from the City of Toronto.

Helen Kathleen Allen was born in Dundurn, Sask., on Aug. 16, 1907. She married Charles Stacey in Toronto on Oct. 3, 1980, when she was 73, and he 74. In 1981 she stepped down from the “Today’s Child” column (Judith Adams did it for seven years more) and “Family Finder”, but still spent two days a week writing letters and Adoption Bulletins.

 - Today's Child By HELEN ' This alert young...

Also read–

Adoption 1960’s Style –MJ Whittaker

Today’s Child — A Look Back


Margaret Lucas

I was in one of those pictures in May 1965 with my four sisters. I vividly remember getting together for the picture to be taken and it was an awesome day. We were not all adopted together but have found each other later in life. Love that picture so much and looked at it often throughout the years.–
Comment from Theresa this morning.. not everyone was lucky.
“As a Metis child growing up when the Toronto Star featured many of these children during the 1970’s, my heart would break. There was a disproportionate large number of Indigenous children featured. Why couldn’t they be with their birth families? My heart still breaks today at the large number of Indigenous children that are still taken away from their birth families, often at the moment of birth. How can that mother have caused harm to her child? She hasn’t even held her babe yet. I’m currently helping a 60’s scoop woman fill out her claim form. Ripped away from her birth family as an infant, she doesn’t even know what Indigenous Nation she comes from. When will it be understood that we can’t be forced to assimilate. After all, it is truly a difference of opinion and culture as who considers who the “uncivilized” one. Allowing us to raise our own children, or those who rip our families apart?”
Related reading

Sad Memories of the Waifs and Strays Society

The Wright Brothers– British Home Children

Canadians Just Wanted to Use me as a Scullery-Maid

Laundry Babies – Black Market Baby BMH 5-7-66

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Sad Memories of the Waifs and Strays Society

Sad Memories of the Waifs and Strays Society




In the Almonte, Ontario Gazette July 2, 1897 a news items caught my eye on the front page. 

Almonte, Ontario Gazette July 2, 1897

A party of young people from Mrs. Birt’s Sheltering Home, Liverpool, England, is expected to arrive in Knowlton, Que., about July 20th. The majority of  children are under 10 years of age; a few boys and girls from 12 to 16.

Photos of younger ones, can be sent to parties needing children: or adoption. Applications accompanied by railway fares and minister’s recommendations will be supplied first. If possible, notice will be sent when to meet the children. Address, Mrs. Louisa Birt, Knowlton, P. Q.


If you have no idea about one of Canada’s dirtiest little secrets, the British Home Children were placed in a foster home upon their arrival from the UK, usually a farm, where some were treated no better than slaves until they reached adulthood. From 1869 to 1948 more than 100,000 children were immigrated from Great Britain to work on farms in the rapidly growing rural communities across Canada.

Most of these children were generally forbidden to leave their new foster homes and were not paid for their labours. The program was created with good intentions and the promise of a better life, but its results were often tragic. A lot of children were abused and neglected, and some never spoke of what they had endured to their future children and grandchildren.

After I read the newspaper clipping I felt overwhelmed and I composed some fictional words that maybe would be have been written by a young boy living on a farm in Lanark County after someone had replied to the the Knowlton home ad.



The Story of George

Farm life in Ontario was dreariness in itself years ago when they began to train us little orphans to lead lives of usefulness. Other children weren’t as fortunate as myself from what my mate told me and some were beaten and treated like dogs. In 1897, my brother and I were placed at separate (but neighbouring) Lanark County farms after someone read an advert in the newspaper. In Knowlton they had placed a comment beside our names stating that my brother and I should be placed near each other. In actuality, however, we were not allowed the privilege of visiting–presumably, so we would learn to accept our new circumstances.

At that time neither of us saw anything outside of our own little neighbourhood from one year’s end to the other. Each morning’s sun showed us both the same stretch of woodland and meadow, and its dying rays in setting lit up the same hills and valleys. There was no change to the monotony, nothing to give fresh zest to life, or a new stimulus to ambition and ideas for the children that no one wanted.

My range of vision has been widened since I left my servitude. Improved roads, better facilities for travel by railway, the bicycle and an increase in wealth now enable me to see a great many miles from the side line on which I now live. Minds are made more active by a change of scene; fresh ideas are developed by experience of what others are doing: ambition is strengthened by the increase of knowledge. After completing my farm apprenticeship even the old home itself reveals new beauties to faculties quickened by observation of distant localities. I am finally learning to see how others live, and no one has a monopoly on me in either of the joys or sorrows of life.

I was told of letters from my Mother begging for her sons to be returned to her as she had only agreed to leave her boys for a short time at the Liverpool Sheltering Home on the advice of her doctor. It has been heartwarming to know my brother and I were not “abandoned” by our English family, but were, instead, the unfortunate victims of circumstances beyond our control.  My brother ended up dying at an early age, and today I mourn the loss of my family in England and my sibling. I still live with pain, a pain I will take to my grave. I would like to think that my Mother knew what her children went through all those years in a strange country–even if she didn’t see it for herself.









Please note that I did not make up this name “the Waifs and Strays Society” in the title. This is what the British Home Children were referred to in many newspaper articles I read yesterday.:(


Louisa Birt with some of the Knowlton children–year and children unknown–Photo Canadian Home Children


Louisa Birt was the sister of Annie Macpherson, both of whom worked with destitute children. Mrs. Birt became the head of the Liverpool Sheltering Home in 1873, the same year in which she started sending children to Canada.

From 1873 to 1876, approximately 550 Birt children were placed in homes in Nova Scotia by Colonel James Wimburn Laurie.

Annie Macpherson no longer needed her receiving and distribution home in Knowlton, Quebec, so Mrs. Birt began using the Knowlton Home in 1877.  took in 4858 boys and girls between 1872 and 1912.

Mrs. Birt also brought children over from the Christ Church Homes, Claughton, Birkenhead, and various British Unions and industrial schools.

In 1910, Lilian Birt took over from her mother in Liverpool. Emigration decreased during the war years and the Knowlton Home was closed in 1915. After the war, the work of the Macpherson homes and the Liverpool Sheltering Home was combined. The Birt children were sent to the Macpherson homes in Stratford, Ontario, and after 1920 to the Marchmont Home in Belleville.

The Liverpool Sheltering Home continued with its emigration work until it was absorbed by Barnardo’s Homes in 1925. Library and Archives Canada



Shanon wrote…
Linda, thanks for taking the time and doing the research for this post. My GGrandfather was a BHC from North Yorkshire who came to live/work on the farm of James & Sarah McElroy in Lanark County.
He and his siblings came to Canada in 1889 (possibly April) I have no information about his life before arriving here and very little about his time as an indentured farm laborer. I have no information on his siblings at all.
It was only after he became an adult that records exist. He became an electrician/laborer on the Rideau Canal at Andrewsville Locks ON, he served in WW1 with the 156th Batt, he returned to his job after the war at which time I lost track of him once again. I believe he is buried in Merrickville but have been unable to verify that information. Keep up the good work and please do more posts on this subject.
Joyce Murray My father was a home child he landed in Halifax 1930 from the orphanage he was youngest of seven children. His both parents died he lived with his grandmother on her death bed if they send you to Canada go you would have a better life. Forty years ago when we were burying my brother in Merrickville my father pointed out a farm that we passed by he said they were nice people to work for that they allowed you to sleep in the house and you could eat at the table and he got his first new pair of boots then. He had worked at another farm near by and was lucky that someone showed up in Feb. to check on him he was living in the barn with no heat and his toes of his boots were cut out because they were too small, and they transfer him to the new farm. My father went on to help build the Alaska highway and then became electrician and work for NRC until his retirement.


Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun andScreamin’ Mamas (USA)



The Wright Brothers– British Home Children

Canadians Just Wanted to Use me as a Scullery-Maid

Laundry Babies – Black Market Baby BMH 5-7-66


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Women in Peril– Betrayed by Heartless Scoundrels 1882



‘The Lost Path’ by Frederick Walker, 1863. 


May 5 1882– with files from The Almonte Gazette


A passenger on the train from Ottawa to Brockville noticed a woman in a second class car with a large-sized basket containing four or five infants of very tender years. In fact they did not appear to be more than a few weeks, and in one or two cases only a-few days old.

“You have a large family of very young people to look after,” said the gentleman.

“Yes,” was the curt reply.

“Where do they come from” he asked?

“Ottawa and the surrounding rural area,” she replied.

“And may I ask where you are taking them to ?”


No replies could be more curt, or at the same time more to the point. On his return to the city the gentleman informed a reporter of the incident, who set about making inquiries. After some difficulty the irrepressible scribe discovered that a certain establishment in the guise of a half boarding-house, lying-in-hospital existed in the city, and that several young women, one or two said to be “highly respectable,” were “inmates,” or “ boarders,” or “lodgers,’’ or patients at the  time.

Entering into conversation with the female directress it was learned that a girl “in trouble” could be sent there on payment of four dollars per week, “strictly in advance,” and four dollars more for the doctor who would attend at the time of her confinement.

The patient was to have a room to herself and could be secluded or not as she pleased. After her confinement if she so desired, by the payment of four dollars more, the unfortunate offspring would be taken away at the end of forty-eight hours and sent to Montreal. It was one of the periodical “batches” of helpless infants that were en route to the Commercial Metropolis that at our gentleman friend noticed on the cars.

From one of the patients it was learned that she had been a victim of misplaced confidence. She had loved a member of the civil service, a young and good looking servant, not wisely, but too well. The result was that it was necessary to take care of her. She could not remain at home, and therefore the private lying-in hospital came in most opportunely.

In course of conversation she said that she had arranged to have the issue of her  folly taken to Montreal and she would have “no more trouble about it”. That fact seemed to give her great consolation, and yet, alas what a humiliating, what a cruel, unmotherly phase of human nature did this heartless remark of this heartless girl present. And yet, her case is by no means a singular one.

It is no wonder the infantile mortality of Montreal is so great; no wonder the sanitary authorities of that city are called upon so frequently and urgently by the press to account for the high infantile death rate for a long time considered just cause of disgrace. And yet the explanation is not hard to reach. Ottawa sends its quota; Toronto does and the other cities follow suit. Girls will, doubtless be betrayed by heartless scoundrels, but in the name of all that is just and kind some means should be adopted to protect the helpless infantile victims.



Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in Hometown News and now in The Townships Sun

Related Reading

The Home for Friendless Women

Laundry Babies – Black Market Baby BMH 5-7-66

Embroidery of the Insane?

Women in Peril 1868 — Mathilda Routh

Did You Know About the House of Industry?

The Very Sad Tale of Hessie Churchill

All the Single Ladies?

I’m Every Woman?