Tag Archives: slaves

Home Boy Lawsuits — Pakenham– The British Home Children

Home Boy Lawsuits — Pakenham– The British Home Children

The Lanark Era
Lanark, Ontario, Canada
20 Aug 1913, Wed  •  Page 8

The Lanark Era
Lanark, Ontario, Canada
14 Jul 1915, Wed  •
The Lanark Era
Lanark, Ontario, Canada
02 Apr 1902, Wed  •  Page 1

with files from
National Post
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
19 Jun 2002, Wed  •  Page 18

More than 30,000 boys and girls were sent to Canada, most of them to Ontario, between 1882 and 1939. Before Barnardo’s cancelled the program, Canadian farmers could apply to have a child sent to work for them. In return, they were to take care of feeding, dressing, schooling and paying the child. Mr. Howard Vennell said he was forced to work 18 hours a day, seven days a week performing typical farm chores such as milking cows, feeding the animals and taking the manure out, all by himself. He said he suffered physical abuse “kicked in the butt and belted” at the hands of his employers. “The first six months, I remember, I rocked myself to sleep crying. There was nothing I could do because that’s the way the home wasin England, too.”

Mr. Strosberg estimates 3,000 to 5,000 people are eligible to join the Ontario class action. The Trustee Act prevents the lawsuit from covering those who died before June 13, 2000. The lawsuit could be expanded later to include those sent to other parts of Canada. Mr. Strosberg said neither he nor anyone in his office knew anything about “Dr. Barnardo’s Children,” as they were commonly known, when Mr. Vennell approached them.

“What he says is that he was mistreated and that Barnardo’s didn’t have a system in place capable of achieving what it is supposed to, and that is supervision to ensure that these children were properly supervised and educated.” In a written statement yesterday, Barnardo’s said: “We take any complaint of this nature extremely seriously, but as our legal representatives are now handling the matter we feel unable to comment further at this stage.” Mr. Vennell said yesterday months of negotiations with the charity proved fruitless. It offered him $100,000, which he found inadequate. “We didn’t ask for this,” Mr. Vennell said yesterday.

“Barnardo’s Homes asked for it. They didn’t think we’d go this far. Well, they know now we are going this far. We aren’t kidding.” Dr. Thomas Barnardo founded the charity in 1867, setting up homes for destitute and homeless children in and around London, England. The emigration program aimed to relieve overcrowded cities in England, provide Canada with cheap labour and increase its English-speaking population, and provide more opportunities for the children. Mr. Vennell said yesterday he only realized he was a “Barnardo boy” after he saw a program on television that revealed many children were similarly sent to Canada to work.

“I thought: ‘My God, that’s what happened to me.’ They were practically slaves.” When Mr. Vennell was six years old and ill with rickets, his destitute mother admitted him to one of Barnardo’s charitable homes in England. When he was 14, in March, 1932, Mr. Vennell was sent to Canada even though he says his mother refused to sign a special contract that would allow him to be sent to Canada. “It took five days to come across. We were down in the hold…. It was rough. I was seasick all the way over. They fed us old, dry buns ’cause you wouldn’t be throwing up as bad.”

Mr. Vennell stayed briefly at a Toronto home before being sent to a farm in Pakenham, Ont. A Barnardo’s representative visited the farm once, but failed to do anything despite Mr. Vennell’s “obvious neglect, abuse and unhappiness ,” the lawsuit says. Mr. Vennell was moved to another farm in Uxbridge, north of Toronto.

When he was released from Barnardo’s care at 18, the organization failed to give him accounting of the money he should have earned, says the lawsuit. According to the statement of claim, Mr. Vennell still suffers physical and psychological damage from this abuse. “It was tough, but I managed. I’m a survivor,” he said. Mr. Vennell is married and has one child.

In 1957, Mr. Vennell and his then-future wife had a child out of wedlock. He said the infant was taken away from them. After 42 years of trying to find his son, he finally got to meet him and they are now close. “We talk every day. He calls us, we call them. My granddaughter calls me ‘Grandpa.’ It’s nice to hear. It’s a wonderful thing,” he said. Similar emigration programs were run by the Catholic Church and the Church of England, and more than 100,000 “home children” were sent to Canada in total.

The British Home Children — The Trip to Canada

Ernest Kennings — Home Boy — British Home Children

Robert Laidlaw Home Boy — British Home Children–Buchanan Scrapbook Clippings

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

Canadians Just Wanted to Use me as a Scullery-Maid

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

More Unwed Mother Stories — Peacock Babies

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

British Home Children – Quebec Assoc click

Ontario East British Home Child Family click

British Home Children Advocacy & Research Association click

Slaves in Canada — Classified Ads

Slaves in Canada — Classified Ads

 - The Ottawa Journal
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
15 Nov 1921, Tue  •  Page 19


While aboriginal slaves cost 400 livres, black slaves cost over double
that amount – 900 livres. Advertisements in The Montreal Gazette began as small text notices in the classified section of the paper, much as they are today.

Between 1628-1833 they were close to 5000 slaves within the province, many of whom lived in Quebec City and worked in the homes of the founding wealthy French families. It is mostly assumed that Canada was a haven for slaves, which it was in the last two hundred years of slavery but before this slavery was legal and scores of Blacks and Natives were enslaved here.

Slavery buy and sell ads from the Upper Canada Gazette and Niagara Herald (Archives of Ontario)  

Slavery buy and sell ads from the Upper Canada Gazette and Niagara Herald (Archives of Ontario)  

A for sale ad for “A Young healthy Negro Woman between 12 and 13 years of age, lately from Upper Canada, where she was brought up.”


An April 2nd 1789 ad for “A stout healthy negro man, about 28 years of age, is an excellent cook.”

And a reprinting of the same ad in the next week’s paper with “very fit for working on a Farm” added to it.

Image result for slave ads gazette montreal

This ad was placed March 21, 1793 by a Mr. McMurray, selling a 25 year old female slave.

An ad, placed the same year, for a “Mulatto boy”, right next to notices for a horse saddle and a coffee house that were also for sale.


The Gazette also posted “missing” ads for slaves who had escaped, which required His Majesty’s subjects to “use their utmost diligence in apprehending the said criminal and lodge him in any of the jails of this Province.”


Here, William Spencer is being charged with petty larceny, aka theft of someone’s personal property, because technically by running away he was stealing his owner’s property – his own body.


Another runaway ad, forbidding all persons from “harbouring or aiding him to escape, as they may depend on being prosecuted to the utmost right of the law”, printed in May 1781.


A missing notice offering a twenty dollar reward for a Mulatto apprentice’s return.

Another missing ad, listing an escaped slave with other run-away criminals, lumping him in with a man that was charged with murder.

Image result for slave ads gazette montreal

Source – Tamara Extian-Babiuk




The Gazette
Montreal, Quebec, Quebec, Canada
23 Oct 1888, Tue  •  Page 7



Slavery — Not in My Backyard?

So What Happened to the Lost Colony of St. Armand?


Down by The Mississippi River with The Jessops (Mrs. Jessop was a former slave owner)

Did Blind Tom Play in Carleton Place?

Weird and Thrilling Concert in Carleton Place? The Jubilee Singers of Tennessee University

Architecture Stories: The Voodoo Madam – Mary Ellen Pleasant


Uncle Tom’s Cabin in Carleton Place



Bangor Daily Whig and Courier
Bangor, Maine
05 Mar 1842, Sat  •  Page 2

Slavery — Not in My Backyard?

Slavery — Not in My Backyard?




Canadian Museum of History–Virtual Museum of New France–labouring under the eye of the overseer, end of the eighteenth century

Years ago I visited The Hermitage, located just east of Nashville, Tennessee. Established in 1804, this historic plantation was the “Home of President Andrew Jackson,”  and also to over 200 enslaved men, women, and children.

The property also included a kitchen, smokehouse, and three log slave cabins that date to Jackson’s occupation of the property from 1804 to his death in 1845.  Some slaves lived in yard cabins, as close as ninety feet away from the main house. I personally spent more time in one of the slave cabins than the main house and could not imagine what it was like to live a life basically in shackles. Reduced  to poverty, denied their humanity and individuality as a person– surely, this only happened in the United States I thought. Wasn’t Canada one of the  ‘good guys” known for the Underground Railroad that the oppressed found freedom in Canada between 1840 and 1860?



No Canadian legislature actually abolished slavery. As with all British Imperial society, the institution of slavery came part and parcel with colonialism —Toronto Standard

For anyone that would think we were nothing but innocent in Canada you would be wrong. Slavery existed in Canada for years, yet only 30 years before Canadian Confederation was it made illegal. Slaves were imported from other British colonies, and the migrations to Canada of the United Empire Loyalists were responsible to a great extent for the existence of slavery in Canada.

The first recorded slave brought to Canada was in 1629 when a negro slave was brought to Quebec. In 1784 there were 88 negro slaves in Quebec City alone and even the local clergy owned slaves.  The memoirs of the founder of the Anglican Church of Canada, Rev. John Stuart D. D. revealed that he was a slave owner for some time after he settled in Kingston, Upper Canada in 1784. His Negros were his personal property he wrote and that was that. Surely he had to be breaking some commandments somewhere I thought. Slaves were sold in Lower Canada in 1783 and 1788, and strong healthy men were advertised and sold at a value of $50 each.

After the American Revolution the Loyalists brought their slaves with their other ‘chattels’ and were allowed to keep them as their slaves in Canada, no questions asked. Unlike racist laws that were found in the United States, Canada had largely unwritten racist codes, which many could argue made it more difficult for black people in Canada.

I wondered how Canadian slaves were treated, but documented proof in a Toronto newspaper made me understand all was not well here also. No one was innocent, from farmers to heads of government and in 1806 Peter Russell, who had been the administrator of the government of Ontario, placed the advertisement below:

“To be sold a black woman named Peggy and her son  named Jupiter about 15 years-old-both of them property of the subscriber. The woman is a tolerable cook, washerwoman and understands making soap and candles. The boy is tall and strong for his age and has been employed in the country business, and brought up principally as a house servant.

They are each of them servants for life and the price of the woman is $150 and for the boy $200 payable in three years with interest from the day of sale and to be secured by bond. But one-fourth less will be taken for ready money.”– York, February 19 1806.


Peggy-Ad-for-Matthew-Elliot-LP (1).jpeg

The York Gazette December 20, 1800.

Another advertisement said:

“To be sold a healthy negro woman  about 30 years of age. Understands cooking, laundry and taking care of poultry. She can also dress ladies hair.”

On March 1, 1811, William Jarvis, the secretary of the province, applied to the Ontario courts for the reimprisonment of a Negro boy and girl who had escaped. Were they criminals? Of course not–they were his slaves.

The last slave sold publicly in Canada was in 1797 and Young Emmanuel Allan was sold in Montreal in 1797 for 36 pounds. Finally in 1793 in the first Parliament of Upper Canada under the directorship of John Graves Simcoe (Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada) introduced an act to stop this atrocity. Finally, someone had the decency to end slavery-but it was only aimed at the gradual abolition of slavery. It had to be gradual, history documented, because they had to preserve the rights of private property.


Historians believe there was an estimated 4,000 slaves who were forcibly brought to Canada, either directly as property, or shipped through the trans-Atlantic slave trade from other British colonies. But, it was hard to document, and when you read there was 100s of slaves alone in St. Armand, Quebec (see related reading) you have to wonder how correct these figures really are.



Canadian Museum of History–Announcement of sale of slaves appeared in the Quebec Gazette May 10, 1785

Finally, no new slaves could be brought into Canada and children born of slaves would be freed after their 25th birthday. Seeing the life expectancy of a slave was 36, how fair was that.

In reality, there was no complete freeing of slaves in the province of Ontario until 1834, as some of the leading prominent families were still slave owners and did not want to give up their labour force. Sir John A. Macdonald is best known to Canadians as the country’s first prime minister and a father of Confederation also had a family connection to the slave trade and now a new database shows just how much his father-in-law received in compensation from the British government in return for freeing roughly 100 slaves in 1833.

Many went out of their way to make sure that their black fellow citizens didn’t have an easy go of it after they were freed.  Peter Gallego wrote that on a tour of the province of Ontario after he was freed he had been assaulted in taverns and steamships, denied passage on stagecoaches, forced to vacate inns and, finally, had been imprisoned and fined. He was also beaten by a crowd of white individuals when the judge presumed that they had somehow been provoked by the presence of a black individual.

We brag about the War of 1812, Laura Secord, Champlain, Cornwallis, and Louisbourg, and a million other things that existed before 1867, but Colonial Canadians owned slaves and it was part of Canadian culture. A more extensive system of slavery in the U.S. does not give us license to dismiss its presence and impact here. I would love to see lists of descendants of slaves brought by Canadian Empire Loyalists written up as also the founders of Canada in all Canadian history books and not as outlanders. Canadian slavery has long been a neglected area of our historical background and nature made no one a slave.


We have seen the mere distinction of colour made in the most enlightened period of time, a ground of the most oppressive dominion ever exercised by man over man.

JAMES MADISON, speech at the Constitutional Convention, June 6, 1787




Greg Duval– I was at a family gathering a few years ago, and in conversation learned about an old farm that had been recently sold. There, I was told by a distant relative, he had been involved in the sale and removal of family items. He related that they had to go down below the barn, and had seen chains and shackles still visible on the walls. There was no doubt in his mind what they were intended for.
I had always wondered why this family had moved from Charleston to London in the years following the Civil War. There is quite the history and connection to the deep south just as there is in Lennoxville and the surrounding area.


The Slave Dwelling Project —-Please click here


 Chloe Cooley and the Act to Limit Slavery in Upper Canada
Although little is known about Chloe Cooley, an enslaved woman in Upper Canada, her struggles against her “owner,” Sergeant Adam Vrooman, precipitated the Act to Limit Slavery in Upper Canada, 1793 — the first legislation in the British colonies to restrict the slave trade.


The Book of Negroes more than 3,000 slaves and freed black people were secured safe passage and their freedom to Nova Scotia, Canada. These African-American British Loyalists became the first settlement of Black Canadians.





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

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.




So What Happened to the Lost Colony of St. Armand?


Down by The Mississippi River with The Jessops (Mrs. Jessop was a former slave owner)

Did Blind Tom Play in Carleton Place?

Weird and Thrilling Concert in Carleton Place? The Jubilee Singers of Tennessee University

Architecture Stories: The Voodoo Madam – Mary Ellen Pleasant


Uncle Tom’s Cabin in Carleton Place

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