Tag Archives: orphans

Updates–What Happened to the Cardwell Orphans?

Updates–What Happened to the Cardwell Orphans?


The sad state of affairs with small children..😦 Clipped from The Ottawa Journal, 17 Jan 1894, Wed, Page 1

I posted this on Tuesday. What happened to these children? The next day this was posted…



Clipped from Manitoba Morning Free Press,  18 Jan 1894, Thu,  Page 2






It was always believed that some sort of miracle would would take place in the life of an orphan and they would be adopted. Orphans were normally taken in by their immediate relatives, neighbours or couples without children. Laws related to adoption did not prevail in the Victorian era and so most of the instances of adoption were informal. Adoption of a child of the lower class by people of higher class, however, did not permit the child to maintain relations with the higher class and Canada had strict laws. If you suddenly found yourself without family you were put in jail until the courts could deem your story. Canada was worried about the country becoming a dumping ground for child immigrants. Your morals were assessed to see if you could become responsible citizens.

Some of the orphans considered themselves lucky to get placed in educational institutions. The philanthropists of the Victorian era considered it a social responsibility to donate money to schools which were formed to educate the orphans and provide boarding facilities. Food, clothing, shelter and education were given to orphans until they turn seventeen. Once they attained the age of seventeen the orphans were expected to work and earn on their own.

Most of these education centres were not funded properly and Orphans were educated for the purpose of performing lower-middle class occupation such as that of a governess. To make matters worse the nutrition standards were not up to the standards and corporeal punishment excessively. In such poor conditions, diseases spread rapidly in the crowded centres.

As abandonment of children was quite often during the Victorian era a residential institution to take care of the orphans became the need of the hour. Thus orphanages were set up in different parts of United Kingdom as Group home, children home, rehabilitation centre and youth treatment centre.

The establishment of orphanages played a major role in reducing the infant mortality rates. The orphanages offered community-based living and learning to children. Though orphanages acted as a better option when compared to adoption and foster care, in some of the unregulated orphanages, children were subject to abuse and neglect. But there were still some orphans searching for a ray of light in the darkness, living in the streets doing menial work and begging for money for their living.

Gilbert and Bertha Cardwell were pardoned by the Dominion of Canada and who knows what desperate place they were sent. Attempts to find them on genealogy pages, insane asylum lists etc. were fruitless. All that is know is they went to an orphanage in Kingston and the were probably sent to the Sunnyside Children’s Centre in Kingston. From mid-century until 1893, children’s homes like the Kingston Orphans’ Home were the primary providers of care and protection to destitute and neglected children in Ontario. About one-third of the children admitted were returned to family, but more than half were placed in private homes when discharged. Establishing good placement procedures was therefore a priority and a primary motivation for the founding of the Home. One hundred thirty-five children placed by the Home from 1857 to 1876 are tracked in order to assess these placement practices and the Home’s effectiveness as a child protection agency.







Clipped from The Ottawa Journal,  20 Nov 1905, Mon,  Page 1



Clipped from Vancouver Daily World,  16 Jul 1896, Thu,  Page 7



Sunnyside Children’s Centre Kingston 1857-1998

The Orphans’ Home and Widows’ Friend Society was organized in 1857 to provide for the care and education of orphans. Initially these children came from the House of Industry, an institution established by the Female Benevolent Society for the poor of the area. By 1857 the House of Industry was well established and receiving aid so the women who had been involved in organizing that agency now turned their attention to the children. In March, 1857, thirteen children were admitted from the House of Industry into a house on Earl street where they were cared for and taught by a Mrs. Harold. Other destitute children attended the classes.
In 1862 the Orphans’ Home and Widows’ Friend Society was granted a charter. In 1862 the Orphanage and school moved to larger quarters. In 1927 the building housing the Orphanage was bought by Queen’s University and Sunnyside, the home of Mrs. G.Y. Chown, was bought for use as an orphanage. As conditions changed and orphan children were adopted or placed in foster homes the orphanage had fewer and fewer inmates. By 1947 the role of Sunnyside had changed. Since that time it has been a centre for the treatment of emotionally disturbed children


Ottawa– Protestants Orphan’s Home 😦



Clipped from The Ottawa Journal,  20 Nov 1899, Mon,  Page 4


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)


He Fired the Barn! The Orphans of Carleton Place


The Very Sad Tale of Cecil Cummings of Carleton Place




There are a lot of sad stories I could write about Carleton Place, but I try to keep it positive until I come across something I take really personally. That would be the sad life of a young Carleton Place boy called Cecil Cummings.

In 1933 it was reported that there were 17 children in the *Carleton Place Children’s Shelter that were all in good health. Seven of the children were wards of the county, and seven were wards of Smiths Falls. Three of the children were being cared for temporarily with their upkeep aid for by their parents.


It was reported in the Ottawa Citizen in 1933 that Cecil Cummings, age 13, that resided at the Carleton Place shelter died as a result from a fall from a tree. Cecil had gone out with the other children for their daily walk and crossed over to an opposite field. Cecil climbed a large oak tree and tried to sit on a branch to gather some acorns ( Ottawa Citizen said it was chestnuts). He told his friends he felt dizzy, and within a few moments he fell from the tree. Mr Morphy picked him up and went back to the shelter where Mrs. Morphy called medical aid. Cecil became unconscious and remained so until he died from a fracture at the base of the skull that same day. Cecil was given a small service and was buried in the Auld Kirk Cemetery outside of Almonte.

He was the son of Mr. Ernest Cummings and the late Mrs. Cummings. After the death of his Mother, he was placed in the Children’s Shelter and then adopted by Mr and Mrs Deemer of Carleton Place. Soon after Mrs. Deemer died and he returned to the care of Mrs. Morphy at the shelter. 


In 1934 there was increasing difficulty in making satisfactory settlements in cases that came under the *Unmarried Parents Act. It was stressed the need of foster homes for the Children’s Shelter was desperately needed. Mrs. Margaret Morphy, matron of the shelter, stated in in her report that the well being in the shelter in 1933 was the best she had. There was little sickness at all and very little trouble of any kind. There were 998 visitors during the year and 15 children lived in the shelter. Cecil Cummings was one of those children and today I tried to find his grave marker at Auld Kirk.


I had no idea that the cemetery was that large. I had done research online yesterday, and could not find a record of his grave anywhere.That was not a good sign. Because he had no one to take care of him, I assume he was buried pauper style. For two hours I looked and could not turn up his grave site and it saddened me. Everyone deserves to be remembered in some way, no matter how old you were in life. No matter how much I searched no one was listening in Auld Kirk and the tree similar to what Cecil Cummings fell out of just waved slowly at me in the breeze.


*The Children’s Shelter

Carleton Place, Ontario- now a private home located at 294 William Street as they changed all the numbers at one point.

The first Children’s Aid Society in Ontario was founded in 1891 in Toronto. It was 1920 before a Children’s Aid Society was formed in Lanark County, and this was in Perth. It would be 1924 before a children’s shelter would be established in Carleton Place.

Various members of the extended family of Abraham and Mary Morphy, under the leadership of Mrs John B. Morphy (Margaret), took in hundreds of local children in need over the years. This meant that, not only did these children receive the help and protection they needed, they did so in their own community and were no longer sent away.

Unmarried Parents Act

In 1921, despite the passing of legislation intended to ease the consequences of illegitimacy for children (Children of Unmarried Parents Act), reformers in Ontario made no effort to improve the status of unwed mothers. Furthermore, the reforms that were passed served as models for legislation in other provinces and even in some American states, institutionalizing, in essence, the prejudices evident throughout. Until now, historians have not sufficiently studied these measures, resulting in the marginalization of unwed mothers as historical subjects. InMisconceptions, Lori Chambers seeks to redress this oversight.

By way of analysis and careful critique, Chambers shows that the solutions to unwed pregnancy promoted in the reforms of 1921 were themselves based upon misconceptions. The book also explores the experiences of unwed mothers who were subjected to the legislation of the time, thus shedding an invaluable light on these formerly ignored subjects. Ultimately,Misconceptions argues that child welfare measures which simultaneously seek to rescue children and punish errant women will not, and cannot, succeed in alleviating child or maternal poverty.

When I posted this picture alone my friend Lisa Crandall asked me if those were the ears of gargoyles sitting in the tree.

Photos by Linda Secaspina

Vintage photo- The Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum

UPDATE- July 20,2015-

Hi Linda,
Sorry I have been so long in getting back to you. we have checked all our records and are unable to find a Cecil Cummings age 13 either in our records or a stone maker.
Elaine Fulton Auld Kirk Cemetery, Almonte