Tag Archives: emmigration

Irish Immigrant Girls Were in Demand Despite Hard Times

Irish Immigrant Girls Were in Demand Despite Hard Times


In the year 1873 very few people had any money, particularly for such luxuries as servant girls. It will be learned with surprise, therefore, Rev. Dr. O’Connor, of St. Patrick’s church, announced in the local press that through the auspices of St. Patrick’s Orphans’ Home, fifty Irish girls of good health and good moral character were coming to Ottawa and would be distributed either for household service or marriage.


There was a wild rush for the girls but it turned out later that only 20 came to Ottawa, the other 30 having been sent by the Irish senders and the Canadian immigration authorities to the West. Consequently Dr. O’Connor and the officers of the home had to scramble to satisfy the demands of the Ottawa people with 20 girls instead of fifty.

The arrival and disposition of the girls was treated in a humorous vein by a Citizen reporter, who wrote in part: “Dangerous Days”. The city press made known the fact that the householders of Ottawa in a collective body seemed each and all to have made up their minds to secure one of the new arrivals. The influx of the strangers was the all-absorbing topic at every family and ladies event to discuss with their mutual friends in detailing their anxieties to obtain the services of one of Father Nugent’s proteges.

Neither of them could show their face on the street without being beset with applicants for girls. There were young married men, widowers, and men that had not been married but were going to be, all clamouring for a girl. If there is any truth in the old saying that ‘there Is no rest for the wicked,’ these two gentlemen must have begun to think themselves the veriest sinners on earth. But their troubles ended not there. The male sex they could well enough refuse, but what could they say to an avalanche of chignoned and Grecian-bended dames and damsels who put on their prettiest smiles and most bewitching looks to induce Good Father John,” or ‘Kind Mr. Wills’ to secure them a girl.

However, both did their best and some twenty were promised their first choice, leaving, as Father O’Connor expected, some thirty more girls to be fought for among other applicants. On a Friday morning the girls arrived in Ottawa, under the charge of Miss Fletcher, and were met at the station by Dr. O’Connor, Mr. Martin Battle, secretary of the St. Patrick’s and Mr. Wills the immigration agent, and a few others. But great disappointment was found that the party consisted of only 20, the rest having been sent west instead of to Ottawa, as was first intended.


The newcomers, were at once taken charge of and conveyed to St. Patrick’s Home, where due arrangement had been made for their reception. Here comfortable meals, were prepared for them, and a large wooden building, just erected for the home wash-house, was converted into a temporary dormitory for their use. Had Father O’Connor not been vigilant the help seekers would have carried them all off then and there. But with prudent foresight that good gentleman forbade any one seeing them till the afternoon, rightly concluding that after a three days journey they would be all the better for bodily rest and refreshment.

In a strange land, the emigrants were soon asleep under shelter of the roof which the Irish generosity has erected for the relief of Irish distress. To these girls, landed thousands of miles from familiar scenes,  such a reception must have been most welcome, and to them this noble institution has Indeed proved St. Patrick s Home.

In time all the twenty girls found nice homes in Ottawa and in due time no doubt, all of them found a husband, though the story does not say that. It appears, however, that the girls were placed with families, rather than with the seekers of wives. But the question arises how things were so financially dismal in 1873, was there such a rush for the girls as servants? The article does not say so, but probably they were taken by members of the civil service, who, having permanent positions, did not suffer to any extent from the hard times

St. Patrick’s Home History

Early Days

On December 17, 1865, a meeting of the Association of Members of St. Patrick’s Church took place in the Parish Hall to consider establishing a House of Refuge for Irish poor.  It was unanimously accepted that this organization would be called St. Patrick’s Orphanage and Asylum.


“Dominique, nique, nique s’en allait tout simplement”–The Pembroke Grey Nuns

I am a Laundry Girl

Women in Peril– Betrayed by Heartless Scoundrels 1882

The Home for Friendless Women

The Old Woman Who Walked From Perth?

Updates–What Happened to the Cardwell Orphans?

He Fired the Barn! The Orphans of Carleton Place

Mothell Parish Families Desiring to leave to go to Upper Canada  1817 – 1818

Mothell Parish Families Desiring to leave to go to Upper Canada  1817 – 1818





Emigrants from Counties Carlow & Wexford to Canada. By 1817 there was a post war recession and Irish crops were failing. Soldiers returning from the Napoleonic wars on the European mainland were flooding the labour market. There had been a war in North America between the Americans and the Canadians (1812-14). The English government offered free land to settlers (preferrably with military experience) to defend Canada from the Americans.

Records are on the Canada page.

With Hugh Masson’s (related to the Willoughby’s) notes in brackets.


  1. GRIFFITH, Widow, Lewis, Elizabeth?, Jane1, Catherine, James, Jane2 , Mary,
  2. GRIFFITH, Richard, Sarah, William, John, Lewis, Richard
  3. PRESCOTT, Richard, Mary, Lewis
  4. JAMES, Thomas, ?, Anne, Catherine, Jacob, Thomas, religion RC
  5. PIELOW, name missing, Sally, Dinah, Elizabeth
  6. SMYTH, John, Molly, Mary, Sally
  7. KIRFOOT, William , Elizabeth, Jane, Thomas, Samuel, Eliza, [this KERFOOT family settled Con 4 lot 25 Beckwith Twp. Lanark Co.
  8. GRIFFITH, Henry, Catherine
  9. LETT, John, –olly, Martha, 3 more unscrambled names,[ this family was one to move with some of the Willoughbys to Lambton Co.]
  10. STONE, William, Susanne, John, Eliza, Jane, William , George,
  11. FLEMING, John, Betty, Jane, William ,Richard, Dorah,
  12. WARD, John, Anne, Ellen, Mary died,
  13. WARD, Luke, Betty, Richard, John Anne,
  14. GORDON, Samuel, Mary, John, Samuel,
  15. KIERFOOT, George Senior, Jane, Jane Foxstone servant,[ George KERFOOT was known to come but died at Nepean’s Point 1819 before rest got to Beckwith]
  16. MORRIS, Joseph, Sarah, Susan, Jane, James, Mary,
  17. MORRIS, William, Jane, Henry, James Mary, Joseph? Betty?, Jane, Ellen,
  18. WILLOUGHBY, George, Anne, [nee Kerfoot], MaryAnn, Peggy, Alley, William, Thomas, Richard [I descend from Mary Ann]
  19. GRIFFITH, John, Mary, Betty, Sally, Anne, Peggy, Jane, May, John, Betty Gregg= servant
  20. Missing
  21. PENDER, Widow, Mary, Samuel, John, Mary Langford=servant
  22. LANGFORD, Widow died Oct. 1817, George, Sally Joseph, William, Richard,
  23. STACEY/ STEACY  William, Allie/Sally/Alice, Sally, Joseph, Annie, Betty, Jane,
  24. BRADLEY Samuel, Betty, Isaac, John,  [Samuel will be related to the Kerfoots via Wm’s wife Elizabeth. Records indicate she was Elizabeth Bradley, the widow Wilson before her marriage to Wm Kerfoot. Sam might be a son of Eliz]
  25. BASSETT, Edward, Mary, John, Peggy, Thomas, William, Edward? Bassett? Michael Leach/Leech apprentice, Sally Bradley, gone to America 1817, family emigrated to America, probably Canada in 1817,
  26. BRADLEY William, ..ea perhaps Jane Shea noted in burial Register Mothel ,Shea Bradley Coolcullen died of fever Oct 12th buried Coolcullen,  ..illy, Betty, Henry, John, Alley, Thomas, Samuel,
  27. SCARF James Anne, Enoch, Joseph, John, Becham,[Scarfs are found throughout Carleton Co. Scarf family is being traced by Barbara Hadden]
  28. RATHWILE/ Rathwell/Rothwell, Edward, Jane and Jane FENNEL[Rothwell is the spelling used in the Tithe applotment book 1824 for Prospect church Coolcullen. Ireland and in land records for Con 4 lot 26 Beckwith Twp.1880]
  29. ROSE Widow, Joseph, Betty, James, and James servant
  30. KEAYS/ KEYES/ Keys Thomas, Mary,

 Mary left 1818 ,Mary Married William ??, William left 1818 William married Mary??, Jane, Mary or May, Elizabeth, Richard

  1. KIERFOOT/KERFOOT George, Deborah, William,
  2. EUSTACE William, Catherine, left 1817
  3. GARLAND Thomas, Jane, Elizabeth, Thomas, Nicholas, Anne
  4. ALCOCK, Thomas, Dorah, Mary, Thomas, Joseph, Mary, Francis [Alcocks settled near Kerfoots on Con 4 at Prospect, Beckwith Twp. Peter Light is tracing some of these]
  5. TRISTRASSE??, Thomas, Catherine, Patrick, Mary, Thomas, Adam, family left 1817
  6. SHIRLEY Basil, Jane, Ellen Morris servant [see families 16 & 17 Shirleys married into Willoughby, some Shirleys stayed in Ireland]


  1. GRIFFITH Thomas, Susan, Mary, Anne, Rachel, Francis, Sally, Thomas, Susanna, Esther,
  2. JACKSON Robert, Mary, Hannah, Sally, Mary, Robert,
  3. LUCAS Widow, Robert, Sally,
  4. TOOLE, James, Susan, Robert, Sally [might be POOLE as Pooles settled on Con 4 near Prospect, Beckwith Twp. Lanark Co along with Alcock, Willoughby, Kerfoot]
  5. DUCK / AUCK / HUCK William? Margaret? Jonathan married to Anne, Richard
  6. SAUNDERS, …?, Margaret, Thomas, John, Margaret, Jane, Martha,
  7. SAUNDERS Widow, George, Ellen, James, Nath, Bridget, Betty, Mary, Jane Joseph,
  8. PRESCOTT Widow, Henry married ? Mary, Mary, William
  9. SAUNDERS William, Anne, Anne,
  10. LEECH /Leach/Leich George, [see family 25 Bassett]

Received from: Rory Griffith                                                    Posted: 13 December, 2006.



Fenians OR Ballygiblins? Fighting Irish 101

What Was Smiths Falls Perth and Port Elmsley like to Joseph and Jane Weekes?

Lanark County 101 — It Began with Rocks, Trees, and Swamps

A Cross for the Irish who Perished on the St. Lawrence Shores

Rock the Boat! Lanark County or Bust! Part 1

It Wasn’t the Sloop John B — Do’s and Don’t in an Immigrant Ship -Part 2

Riders on the Storm– Journey to Lanark County — Part 3

ROCKIN’ Cholera On the Trek to the New World — Part 4

Rolling down the Rapids –Journey to Lanark Part 5

More Settler Routes from Bill Martin

More Settler Routes from Bill Martin

c040048k (1).jpg

Bibliothèque et Archives Canada

Watercolour of settlement on Long Island on the Rideau River, Upper Canada (Ontario)

Thanks Ken Godfrey for this.

“Thanks to a link a DNA cousin) I’m attaching my 
“cut-and-paste” of part of a larger document – which you may wish to 
read in full, if you have the time. The names of inns and taverns along 
the way is fascinating to me, as I suspect that these may not be 
recorded anywhere else! Of special interest is the mention of the 
Fryfogel Tavern, which still exists today on the road to Stratford, 
Ontario, and has a historic plaque to mark it.
P.S. Although these 2 routes were primarily for the Scottish settlers 
who came from an area of Perthshire, just south of Loch Tay, (judging by 
the place names mentioned) to Perth County, Ontario, that part of the 
trip from Quebec City up into the St. Lawrence (just prior to Lake 
Ontario) would have also been used by many of our ancestors, including 
our Gilmour and Robertson families!”
This letter also describes a Route II – from New York City, up through
the Erie Canal, into Hamilton, and then beyond. I knew of this route
from other sources, but to see the mileage detail, and its
recommendation for greater comfort was enlightening. Route I talks of
using the new Rideau Canal as a better [but much longer] detour.
If you wish to read the whole document, as produced by Bill Martin, of
Thunder Bay, Ontario, just click on the link at the end of the piece.
From “THE HIGHLANDER” published in Chicago. The Perth County Pioneers By Archie McKerracher

24th Octr. 1835

Rev'd Sir

May, I take the liberty of requesting your particular attention
to the annexed copy letter and to beg of you to forward that
matter we are so anxious about. And may God bless your endeavours
and ours in endeavouring to obtain the ministrations of his Servants.

I am
Rev'd Sir
Your mo. ob't Serv't.

(Signed) Peter McNaughton from Shian

Note for the Rev'd Mr. Duff

From our anxiety for the promotion of Christian knowledge
amongst us, we take the liberty of suggesting for your
consideration the propriety of applying to the Marquiss of
Breadalbane for some assistance to aid us in getting our
intended church established. We are certain that from his and
his late father's disposition to foster the well being of his
tenants at home and in remembrance of many of us being once his
tenants, the Marquiss may be induced to help us as regards the
Church, and we take the liberty of requesting your kind services
in this matter, and to state to him our intentions.

We arc all happily and comfortably settled in this township
(North Easthope) and also in South Easthope and it is our wish
that our late neighbours may be aware of this as from what
we have learned many are inclined to join us from our native
land. The land here is good and well watered, the
terms of the Upper Canada Land Co'y are liberal, requiring the
Settler only to pay a fifth of the purchase money when the land
is applied for, and the remainder in five yearly installments
with interest at six per cent. The Co'y at present sell their
lands at 12/6 Currency per acre being equal to about 10/8
British, and the only stipulation is to clear off each year about 3 1/2
acres for every 100 acres owned by a settler, and that for 7 years
when a free deed is given, the instalments heing also paid. But
a settler may clear the required quantity in less time, and so
obtain his free deed on paying up the whole instalments. There
are grist mills and saw mills within a few miles of us east and
west, also a store where goods of all kinds are sold. This
settlement is mostly Scotch, almost wholly so where we are
settled, and the utmost goodwill and unanimity prevails.  We
enjoy, though obtained at present by hard labour and
perseverance, all the necessary worldly comforts and with the
prospect, if we and our families are spared, of seeing them and
us all independent and comfortable Farmers, farming our own land.

May we therefore request of you, that as we state nothing but
what is true, and borne out by the testimony of the settlers who
have arrived this season you will give this brief information
(joined to the annexed Routes) to as many as seem inclined to
emigrate to this place.

North Easthope, Huron Tract, U.C.

It has been thought proper and perhaps necessary to give the
following information for the guidance of many of our late
neighbours in Perthshire who may be wishful to come to this place
as when an Emigrant arrives from on Board Ship, he is often
perplexed as to the route or journey to any particular place he
intends going to. The Routes which follow may be depended upon
as being pretty correct.

	I. Route from Quebec to Montreal to Hamilton, and from
	   thence  to North Easthope (Huron Tract)          Miles

	   From Quebec to Montreal (by Ship or Steamboat)    180
		Montreal to Kingston
		  (by Steamboat & Durham Boats               189
		Kingston to Hamilton
		  (head of Lake Ontario) by Steamboat        211
						 sub-total   580

	   From Hamilton to Dundas                             5
	   To Cornells Tavern (Township of Beverly)            8
	   To Henry Ebbs "    (     "       )                  6 1/2
	   To Thomans    "    (Village of Breston,
			       Township of Waterloo)           6 1/2
	   To Swartz now Stafans " (Twp. of Waterloo)
		by covered bridge over Grand River             6 1/2
	   To Rycharts Saw Mill (Township of Wilmot)           4
	   To Hobsons Tavern    (     "      )                 5 1/2
	   To Helmors  "        first Tavern in the
		Houron Tract (North Easthope)                  6
	   To Tryfogles Tavern (South Easthope)                3
	      being about 4 miles from the centre of the
	      Scotch Settlement,                 sub-total    51
	      North Easthope                   grand-total   631

The above distance is 631 miles, 580 of which are by River St.
Lawrence and Lake Ontario, and the remaining 51 miles by land.
Waggons are easily procured from Hamilton to North Easthope for
14 or 18 Dollars per load. There is 5/0 currency in a Dollar
equal to about 4/ 3 1/2 British. The passage from Quebec up the St.
Lawrence is a very disagreeable besides dangerous one, and not
to be compared with the route No.II below, by the way of New
York and Oswego. When an Emigrant lands at Quebec (who is bound
for Upper Canada beyond Toronto (late York) he has to travel by
ship, steamboat, or by the Durham boats, which last boats are
made to surmount the Rapids and not constructed to afford
shelter from wet or tempestuous weather. Emigrants however may
now avoid the danger and trouble in the Durham Boats by going
by the Rideau Canal, vizt. from Montreal up the Ottawa River to
mouth of that Canal, and by it to Kingston and from thence to
Hamilton by Steamboat. The distance to Hamilton from Quebec is
580 miles whereas the distance by the Route No.2 is only 484,
Besides there is really much danger in navigating the Gulph of
St. Lawrence, as the many shipwrecks shew, and the state of the
Quarantine Station at Grosse or Goose Island (24 miles below
Quebec) is very Bad.

II.     Route from New York to Hamilton, & from thence to North
	East Hope, Huron Tract From New York to Albany             Miles
	(by Steamboat or Towboat towed by a Steamboat in 22 hours   145
	     From Albany to Syracuse by Erie Canal                  171
	     From Syracuse to Oswego, on Lake Ontario                38
						      sub-total     354
	     From Oswego to Hamilton by Steamboat             about 130
	     (or from Oswego to Toronto
		       and from Toronto to Hamilton)  sub-total     484
	     From Hamilton to North Easthope as before               51
							  total     535

The advantage of an Emigrant coming to Canada by way of New
York, is the quickness of passage, safety, and cheapness, being
on the whole as cheap as by Quebec. The passage from New York to
Oswego is a most comfortable one compared to that by Montreal,
the Towboats and Canal Boats being well fitted up, and complete
protection afforded against the weather for both passengers and
luggage. At Oswego an Emigrant meets a Steamboat for Hamilton or
for Toronto (late York) and if for Toronto then there is a
Steamboat from Toronto to Hamilton. (This Season there were two
plying twice a day between Toronto and Hamilton). The distance
between Albany and Oswego is performed in one Canal Boat.

Copy Letter Robert Frazer and others to Rev'd Mr. Forbes, Amulree.

Rev'd Mr D.B. Forbes            Township of North Easthope.
				       Huron Tract
of Arnulree Church                     Upper Canada
   by Crieff                        24th October 1835

Rev'd Sir:

We take the liberty of writing you upon a subject which we are
certain you will be glad to hear of.

Many of us who subscribe this letter have been personally known
to you while it was our lot to be placed in our native land, but
tho now far distant from that land we hope we have not forgotten
the many valuable instructions and injunctions delivered by you.

The part of Canada we live in is indeed remote and consequently
we have been subjected to many privations, but what we have
greatly to lament for is the stated ministrations of a
clergyman. We are all, thanks be to God as far as worldly
comforts affect us, much better off than in our native land, and
we would be sorry to think that while we enjoy so many worldly
blessings we should, or others, accuse ourselves of inattention
to our spiritual wants.

We have a prospect of a Minister or Missionary, as be is called
at first being sent amongst us, early next season, but as there
are many waste fields besides ours in Canada where the
assistance of a preacher of the Gospel is required, we are
somewhat doubtful that our case may be overlooked, tho indeed we
are kindly assured by the Rev'd Mr. Rintoul of Streetsville
(near Toronto, Late York, the capital of U.C.) that we will be
attended to, Mr. Rintoul has given us every reason to expect
that a missionary will be sent here, but he has said at
sametime, that a great deal depends on the Glasgow Colonial
Missionary Soc'y, a Soc'y in Glasgow established for the purpose
of sending missionaries abroad, Mr. Rintoul visited this place in
August last, and was satisfied of our wants. He had for 12
months before been made acquainted with the [strides of] this
settlement, and all along was most wishful to assist us, and has
done a great deal to encourage us.

What we now chiefly request of you, is that you will as soon
after the receipt of this as possible apply to the Glasgow
Soc'y. above referred to, and state our case, and do all you can
for the sending of a missionary to us, but one who can preach
Gaelic as well as English. We are taking preparatory steps
towards getting a Church erected, and are going to apply to the
Governor for help, but if a minister was on the spot, he would
do much towards that. We intend applying to the Canada Land Co'y
also. We will have the benefit of a school this winter, as one
of our neighbours is erecting one at present. And we believe it
will be only the second school in operation on the Huron Tract.
We live within 3 or 4 miles of an intended village called
Stratford on Avon where the Upper Canada Land Co'y (to whom the
Tract belongs) have an Agent and where there are mills for the
benefit of the Settlers. There are four Townships (same as
Parishes) meet at the village called North Easthope, South
Easthope, Ellice and Downie. The Population of this Township and
So. Easthope is about 500.

We have sent copies of this letter to the Rev'd Mr. Duff of
Kenmore and Rev'd Mr. A. Campbell of Weem and we pray you to
write for our spiritual welfare.

We are Rev'd Sir
Your mo. ob't. Serv't. in name

Please address any letter for us
of Mr. Robert Fraser,
North Easthope, Huron Tract,
Upper Canada (by GaIt)

Robert Frazer           Donald Stewart
Donald MeNaughton       John Stewart
Peter McNaughton        Donald Robertson
Duncan Stewart          James Robertson
John Crerar             Alex'r Crerar
And. Riddel             Donald Peddie
Duncan Fisher           John Stewart
Peter Anderson          James Fisher
John Kippan             Peter Crerar
John Stewart

All the Settlers have not signed
this owing to want of time before
sending off.

    Bill Martin, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada

Read more here..CLICK

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 Man Without a Country

Lanark County 101 — It Began with Rocks, Trees, and Swamps

Rock the Boat! Lanark County or Bust! Part 1

It Wasn’t the Sloop John B — Do’s and Don’t in an Immigrant Ship -Part 2

Riders on the Storm– Journey to Lanark County — Part 3

ROCKIN’ Cholera On the Trek to the New World — Part 4

Rolling down the Rapids –Journey to Lanark Part 5

One of the First Settlers of Drumond from the Massacre at Culloden

The Old Settlers Weren’t so Old After All

Dear Lanark Era –Lanark Society Settlers Letter

Ramsay Settlers 101

The Norwegian Bride– Not Your Ordinary Bride

What Did British Immigrants Spend When They First Came to Canada?

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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The Story of Jane Russell Gibson of Lanark County

The Story of Jane Russell Gibson of Lanark County




Beverly Salkeld from Winnpeg, Manitoba wrote this but she asked that John Collins be credited as well as much of her information was gleened from his book  John Collins-Mcintosh family of Lanark County.  But,Effie Edna Park Salkeld is her grandmother not his.

The Jane Russell, John Lawson and James Gibson Families.




When doing research on my family history I came to admire women, who in1820 immigrated from Lanarkshire, Scotland to what is now Canada. It was believed that she, with her family in tow, was to have traveled on a ship named the Prompt. She must of   felt strongly, that it was her duty to create a better life for herself and her family. The family settled in what is now Lanark County Ontario. You may care little for what seems ancient history, but my grandmother Effie Park Salkeld a descendant in this story once wrote, ‘Perhaps no one cares about ancestors dead and gone but we should take heed of the life they helped build Canada the greatest in the world.’   In those days travel by water could be quite treacherous. Life in Scotland after the Napoleonic wars was dismal, at best. The life of a tenant farmer who would never have the privilege of owning land was far from prosperous.

The Scottish economy showed little, if any recovery. Wages were down in all sectors of the county. While in this Promised Land across the sea there lay great dreams. This lady of whom I speak was born one Jane Russell and it is very unfortunate, that I know little about her early life beyond the fact that her parents emigrated from England quite sometime before the 1820’s. Jane’s first marriage was John Lawson; of this marriage two children were born. Their marriage was estimated to have taken place in about 1803 and John’s death would have taken place about 1808 or so. I tried but I never was able to find out the cause his untimely death. The oldest child a boy named John, named after is father, or grandfather as is Scottish Tradition and a girl named Maggie or Margaret.  I am sad to say that since no social support agencies existed in those days that it was often better to be a widow than to have a maimed husband who could not work. One would be at the mercy of family and friends, who were also struggling to support themselves.   Jane and her two children must have felt very alone in the world.

But  being a widow Jane had the chance to re-marry .The widow Lawson later met a man named James Gibson, they soon married. James was a weaver and stonemason.  They were believed to have married in about 1811 which was estimated to be about 3 years after he first husband had passed on.  It is said that as they were waiting at the dock for the ship that they would travel on to get to this new land. James was stated as saying” We’d better turn yet we will surely get a living in the land of our birth”.  Jane being strong-minded women refused. The saga moved on Jane and James (Gibson) John and Maggie (Lawson) and the tree children from their own marriage boarded the ship, most likely a refitted ship left over from the Nepoleon wars. The children of James and Jane were Euphemie (my direct ancestor and another name for Effie, who later married Alexander Watt) two boys William and John Gibson.

After a rough journey at sea under the steerage of a drunken captain who’s boat I was told was quite often off course, often coming too close to icebergs, which upon hitting one, could have easily been the demise of all aboard. They were often so far of course that the Captains of the Great Whaling ships often called out ahoy .  However all passengers arrived safe and sound in what is now Montreal Quebec. The voyage was believed to have taken about eight weeks. From Montreal the family would have traveled up the St. Lawrence Seaway by boat to Brockville Ontario and then overland to Lanark. I have heard tell that the ride overland was very rough by horse dawn wagon and many of the processions were tossed and broken along the way. The roads were terribly bumpy and often fallen trees had to be moved in order that the journey continue.  I read in Catherine Parr Trails book the Backwoods of Canada that mosquitoes were thick and presented a major problem for both the settlers and the animals. A full time swisher with a tree branch , that still had leaves on it was often employed. The drovers who carried the settlers in their wagons, had but one objective and that was to collect their money and ready themselves for the next lot of settlers who were on their way to Lanark.   I suspect there would have been a certain degree of disappointment when James first saw his new land. Nothing but bush and more bush, and a sign tacked to a tree, a building or possibly two, where stores were kept.  My grandmother Effie Park wrote in her memoirs that the tree was also marked with a gash made by an axe. This family most certainly had their work cut out for them. I would imagine that there could have also been some discord between James and Jane Gibson, due to the fact that James never wanted to come in the first place. However they were here  now, turning back would not have been have been an option at this point. The family would now have to make the best of the situation.

The Gibson’s luckier then some as they had sons to help them clear the land. As time passed, the Gibson family grew in number. New members were Mary, Hugh, James, Thomas and lastly Jean who was also called Jane. The Gibson family was issued stores which would have consisted such things as blankets, an axe, files, latches and catches, hinges, hammer and chisels, reaping hooks and some cash.  They were expected to payback the cash once their land was deemed ready to make a living. Several of the settlers in Lanark including the Gibson’s ultimately obtained their land for free as it was so strewn with rocks and not very fertile, not the type of land from which one could make a decent living.  They worked hard to clear their build a cabin and plant crops.

Great tragedy struck the family about 1827. John and Jane lost not one but two of their sons to falling trees. Apparently these deaths were separate incidences. Even thought these deaths took place over 180 years ago, I do not wish to diminish the pain and loss that the family must have felt, or the grieving process and the deep sadness they would have had to endure. I often wonder if Jane  ever regretted coming to Canada due to the tragic loss of her sons.   Jane and John had to be of strong character to carry on with their day-to-day life, as did many pioneers of the  period.  In those days it was often up to the family to bury there dead in the best way they could. I have no details on their burials, except for the fact that they may have been buried in what is now the Gibson family burial ground, but having  read and heard tell of many accounts of how deaths were handled in the olden days I can well imagine what it would have been like.  It often meant preparing the bodies in your own home, and building simple pine box or other wood caskets. Since cemeteries were not really established until later in the century, their graves may have been marked with rocks, or simple wooden crosses that would have  long since rotted away. Rocks were often used to keep wild animals from getting at the bodies of their beloved. The Gibson family cemetery located in Lanark County Ontario on what was once Gibson land. There is a headstone that pays tribute to the graves of John and Jane Gibson, and the life they helped to build in Canada.

They have thousands of descendants all across North America. It is my hope that some of the at least some of the strengths shown by this early pioneer family was and is  in each and every descendent. Jane and John Gibson  were the parents of Euphemie  who married Alexander Watt , parents of Mary who married John McIntosh, parents of Mary Whyte  McIntosh who married Duncan Park, who  parents of my grandmother  Effie Edna Park who married Rae Salkeld.

Beverly Salkeld from Winnpeg, Manitoba wrote this but she asked that John Collins be credited as well as much of her information was gleened from his book  John Collins-Mcintosh family of Lanark County.  But,Effie Edna Park Salkeld is her grandmother not his.


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 and Screamin’ Mamas (USA)








Gibson Family Burials

Lammermoor, Ontario, Lot 26,

 Con. 1, Dalhousie Twp.

Burials 1851 to 1978

County/District/Region: Lanark County
Historical Township: Dalhousie
Current Municipality: Lanark Highlands
Historical Municipality: Lammermoor
Lot: 26
Concession: 1

Related reading

“They were Set Down in Dalhousie Township”– Effie Park Salkeld

For the Love of Lammermoor

Part 1 of “My Dad was an Old Thresherman”

Part 2 of “My Dad was an Old Thresherman”


Settler’s related reading

Lanark County 101 — It Began with Rocks, Trees, and Swamps

Rock the Boat! Lanark County or Bust! Part 1

It Wasn’t the Sloop John B — Do’s and Don’t in an Immigrant Ship -Part 2

Riders on the Storm– Journey to Lanark County — Part 3

ROCKIN’ Cholera On the Trek to the New World — Part 4

Rolling down the Rapids –Journey to Lanark Part 5

Lanark Mormons and Mormon Tree?


Home and Garden Before Home and Garden Magazine

Rolling down the Rapids –Journey to Lanark Part 5


The settlers first experience of land travel in Canada was the voyage from Montreal down the St. Lawrence to Kingston. The first nine miles was overland to Lachine, where most would embark on flat-bottomed durham boats for the river trip.

They had to carry their luggage from the ship to a steamboat and wait at Lachine for over 4 days for the next part of their journey. Rich people could hire a carriage, which was pleasant. Poorer people piled themselves and their luggage in a diligence (stage-coach) or a large wagon.


While most of the tired travellers continued down the St. Lawrence in the durham boats, many did make the journey by coach or even walked. One man whose dog was not allowed on the boat in 1819 walked from Lachine to Kingston faster than his luggage which travelled on a boat.

Len Langill
Hi Linda…if I may suggest a correction re.boats going from Montreal to Kingston…they would be going up the St Lawrence R…and not as down river you had mentioned…love all your very informative work..!!!

After the long voyage across the sea, most emigrants found the stop-and-start trip on the inland river exhausting. By the time they were firmly on land they must have felt as if they had been travelling for months. The current of the St. Lawrence was strong, and the river bed was  shallow and stoney, so sometimes the boats became grounded. They were forced to jump out of the boats wading up to the middle of their bodies and sometimes deeper. Women and children had to come out and walk. In several places the rapids ran with such force they were compelled to get two horses to haul each boat.

At night, they sometimes found shelter in barns, but most times they had to rough it  in the woods, kindling a fire for food and laying on top of their clothes that were used as bedding. The journey from Lachine to Prescott was over 120 miles and it began to take it toll. Some became every sick with fevers and died after a few days of illness, and several families were left with orphans.


After that final boat ride the journey to New Lanark began. The roads became so bad that the horses became unfit to proceed. The animals became stuck in the muddy roads, and sometimes teams of oxen and the horses and wagons had to be pulled out. As they approached New Perth the roads gradually improved. Perth was now becoming a thriving place and increasing daily in population. There were a long list of names affixed to the local Post Office door mentioning those who had letters lying there awaiting them. The next available Post Office would be at the King’s Store in Franktown.

Leaving Perth the next morning they had to ferry across the Little Mississippi and the health of the new settlers was getting worse. Local observers found the new arrivals looking sick and tired. The pioneer land agent (and medical man) Tiger Dunlop recommended a dose of calomine as a preventative and pick-me-up. It doesn’t sound like a good idea if you ask me.

Author’s Note.. There seems to be some discrepancy as to whether you go up or down the St. Lawrence. Decisions are to be personally made by those who are reading it.:)
Someone commented. “You travel “up” the St. Lawrence from Montreal to Kingston not “down”. It look’s downhill on a map as a child may note. You go “up” stream to Upper Canada and “down” stream to Lower Canada from Upper Canada”

It is what it is my friends.

Rock the Boat! Lanark County or Bust! Part 1

It Wasn’t the Sloop John B — Do’s and Don’t in an Immigrant Ship -Part 2

Riders on the Storm– Journey to Lanark County — Part 3

ROCKIN’ Cholera On the Trek to the New World — Part 4

ROCKIN’ Cholera On the Trek to the New World — Part 4 “The Great Stink”


Rock the Boat! Lanark County or Bust! Part 1

It Wasn’t the Sloop John B — Do’s and Don’t in an Immigrant Ship -Part 2

Riders on the Storm– Journey to Lanark County — Part 3


The Watt family was not the only one suffering great hardships trying to establish a home in Ontario, and for Part 4 I am going to discuss what the Crozier family went through. I found this by accident as I was doing research for the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum’s Cemetery walk October 28th(rain date 29th). It began with the discovery of the Crozier headstones at St. James Cemetery, and I now find myself knee deep in that family’s history. I have even had contact with genealogist Fern Dyck in Alberta who has sent me some added information about the family.

I am going to repost this amazing excerpt from The Williams-Rafter Family History, by Ethel Rafter Williams (Rochester, N.Y., 1962) and add a few links and pictures to the story. Of anything I have read– this short piece from a genealogy site hits you in the heart. We need to be so grateful to the early settlers– so very grateful.

The Crozier Family Arrival in the New World

The Croziers were Scotch Irish emigrants to America, families which had left Scotland for religious or political reasons and moved to Northern Ireland, whence after varying periods of time they made their way to the New World. Generally, they came in search of economic opportunity that they could not find in Ireland.

There is reason to believe that John Crozier, the ancestor of the Crozier family in America, lived in Ballinamore, County Leitrim, Northern Ireland. There is no known record of his birth or death, but it is known that he died before 1832. The family had originally come over from the Border Country between Scotland and England with a group of religious dissenters. John Crozier had two wives: Ellen Knight, who had four children, and Anna Coffle, who had eight.


During the years from 1820 to 1832 an epidemic of cholera, starting in Russia, swept through northern Europe. It attacked countries and cities along the highways of travel. The nature of the disease was not understood: there was no known, effective means of combating it. Accordingly, wherever it went, it spread despair and death. The terror-stricken peasantry of Europe abandoned their homes and fled to other provinces or countries, hoping to escape the dreadful scourge. Not uncommon was it for whole villages to band themselves into a little colony, charter a ship and set out to find new homes across the sea.

Quite frequently, in their unwillingness to be separated from their loved ones, they would take with them individuals known to be infected with the disease, with the result that whole parties were destroyed, and all records of them were completely lost.

In one such party Robert Crozier, with members of his family, came to North America in the year 1832. They were part of a large group which had chartered a small sailing vessel, with the intention of forming a colony in the State of Ohio. They sailed up the St. Lawrence River as far as the draught of their vessel would permit, disembarked, and abandoned the ship near the rapids beyond Montreal. They portaged around the rapids and then constructed some crude flat-bottomed boats and rafts. On these they loaded their meager possessions. By means of poles and sails, they resumed the journey, following the Ontario shoreline up the St. Lawrence, hoping eventually to reach their destination — Ohio.


Long before the arrival of this party, the colonists on both sides of the river had heard of the terrible scourge which was devastating Europe. Fearful of the plague, they took measures to protect themselves from the disease which the fleeing Europeans were certain to bring with them. Guards were organized, and practically the whole Canadian shore from Montreal to Kingston was patrolled by armed men to prevent any landing by immigrants.

Along this unfriendly and inhospitable shore, the party of which Robert Crozier and his family were members worked their way. A number of times they tried to land to get fresh food and shelter from the cold, raw winds and rain. Each time, however, they were driven back by hostile farmers. Finally, sickness broke out, probably the dreaded cholera and hunger drove the terrified travelers to desperation.

Under the cover of darkness, they effected a landing near Brockville, Ontario, and took possession of an old barn on the Cryler farm for the night. By this time the guards had heard of the landing, and began to attack them. A fight ensued which lasted all night. The poor immigrants had no weapons to match the shotguns of the Canadian farmers, so that by morning they beat a retreat. Many of them died during the night from sickness and exposure. The living scattered in all directions.

Elizabethtown Township 1891 (click here for 1891 map of eastern Ontario [634K])Some were driven back to the river. Others, carrying what possessions they could, fled inland. Thus, families and friends became separated, many of them never to see one another again. Those who succeeded in gaining the boats worked their way up the river to the Great Lakes, making settlements along the route. Some went to Upper Canada: others settled in Ohio and Michigan.

New-France_5_4_1_Cholera-Plague-QuebecCholera Plague, Quebec

Among those who escaped inland at Brockville was Robert Crozier with some of his family and friends. This small party first made a settlement at a place now known as Elizabethtown. There they built stone houses and barns, and began life again as farmers. It is doubtful if they could have picked a lonelier, more uninviting and poorer farming country than the one they selected. Only by the hardest kind of toil was it possible to eke out a living. The more progressive members of the little community gradually located elsewhere, and Elizabethtown never developed beyond the crude stages of its beginning.

ONWEN14566-P1974-CanadaGenWeb-Cemetery-Ontario-WentworthSection P of Hamilton, ONtario cemetery contains the mostly unmarked graves of victims of the cholera epidemics 1832-1854

This story of the Crozier family’s arrival in America is based on notes taken by John R. Williams on a trip to Canada in 1896. He had gone to visit his mother’s brother, Uncle Demetrius Crozier. His uncle took him to Elizabethtown to call upon his old aunt, Mrs. Ann Berry, a sister of Robert Crozier. She had been a member of the party which had come to Canada in 1832. Born in Ireland in 1815, she was then an old lady of eighty-one, but had a remarkable memory. She recited an almost complete record of her family, both before and after coming to Canada.

The Great Stink they callled it.

n the steaming hot summer of 1858, the hideous stench of human excrement rising from the River Thames and seeping through the hallowed halls of the Houses of Parliament finally got too much for Britain’s politicians – those who had not already fled in fear of their lives to the countryside.

Clutching hankies to their noses and ready to abandon their newly built House for fresher air upstream, the lawmakers agreed urgent action was needed to purify London of the “evil odour” that was commonly believed to be the cause of disease and death.

The outcome of the “Great Stink”, as that summer’s crisis was coined, was one of history’s most life-enhancing advancements in urban planning. It was a monumental construction project that, despite being driven by dodgy science and political self-interest, dramatically improved the public’s health and laid the foundation to better health.

Next installment- The Dreaded Lachine Rapids–https://lindaseccaspina.wordpress.com/2015/10/12/rolling-down-the-rapids-journey-to-lanark-part-5/

It Wasn’t the Sloop John B — Do’s and Don’ts in an Immigrant Ship -Part 2


Part 1– Rock the Boat! Lanark County or Bust! Part 1

Part 2-

It didn’t matter if it was a time of lawlessness on the sea– there were rules you had to follow if you boarded the David of London en route to Lanark County via Quebec City.


Library of Congress Archives photo

Before you boarded that ship a circular of do’s and don’t from the captain of the David of London went into the hands of every passenger:

Girls should be taught to knit coarse woolen stockings. They should also be able to spin wool and linen for family purposes. It should be mandatory that all girls know how to cut out men’s and women’s clothing.

Boys should be taught to make mall fishing nets and prepare fishing tackle suitable for lakes and rivers. A knowlege of anything useful would fill up winter nights in Canada with useful work.

Every family should have a daily worship of God as difficulties will bear hard on you for a little time, and prayer will make hardships pass away like a cloud.


Luggage of emigrants must be restricted to body and bed clothes, pots and pans, a small amount of crockery ware.

No furniture is to be carried, but the books that you might have as a personal library may be allowed.

No dogs or any pretense shall be allowed to be taken on board.

No cooking is allowed on board while the vessel is at the quay.

Sufficient furnaces for cooking shall be erected on deck, with pots and cast iron plate attached to the furnace for baking oatmeal bread on.

A small cabin containing about eight berths shall be fitted for the use of married female who may have occasion for retirement during accouchement on the passage. All adult females unmarried shall have part of the vessel assigned to them secluded during the house necessary for rest by a temporary partition either of deal boards or canvas.

No smoking or lighted candles allowed during any time betwixt decks.


England for Canada on S.S. “Numidian” of the Allan Line.- Library and Archives Canada

On the Sabbath day, public worship will be held on deck when weather permits. Family worship may be held on the same principles.

Cleanliness and moral behaviour shall be strictly enforced. When rum or other necessities are provided by the Captain, the same must be pad for on delivery.

Wonder how this worked out for them? Stay tuned to the next installment of life on the David of London with James and Margaret Watt of Carleton Place.


My Great Grandfather Alexander Arthur Knight died on Ellis Island only a few days after he finally stood on American soil.  He left his family in London on a whim of becoming a songwriter in America.

ROCKIN’ Cholera On the Trek to the New World — Part 4

Rock the Boat! Lanark County or Bust! Part 1

It Wasn’t the Sloop John B — Do’s and Don’t in an Immigrant Ship -Part 2

Riders on the Storm– Journey to Lanark County — Part 3