Home Child Canada founder and Renfrew resident Dave Lorente will be a guest speaker at British Home Child Day celebrations.
The second annual event takes place Friday (Sept. 28) at Upper Canada Village, near Morrisburg.
Lorente says his remarks will focus on reflections from Home Children he has spoken to since he founded Home Child Canada in 1991.
Lorente, whose father Joe was a home child, was in Great Britain in 2010 when British Prime Minister Gordon Brown apologized for Britain’s role in sending thousands of British home children to the British colonies in the 20th century. These children were dispatched, separated forever from their parents, and left to begin their lives in loving or not-so-loving circumstances.
Australia has given a similar apology to home children, but Canada has yet to do so, says Lorente.
Sometimes referred to as The Little Immigrants, British home children were often orphans or impoverished children who came under the care of different philanthropic organizations such as the Anglican Church, Barnardo’s, the Catholic Emigration Service or Quarrier’s.
This year the event at Upper Canada Village will look at the role of William Quarrier who created a Children’s Village in Renfrewshire, Scotland to assist orphans and destitute young people.
Upper Canada Village’s website says records show that young British children were sent to North American colonies as early as the middle 1700s. However, Lorente says there’s evidence of children being sent, as indentured labourers, to Richmond, Virginia in the early 1600s.
The vast majority of British Home Children came to Canada from the 1860s to the 1930s, with the last arriving around 1948.
Ontario East British Home Child Family, an organization dedicated to the promotion of the British Home Children story in Canadian history, says it is pleased to present the first anniversary of British Home Child Day in Ontario.
In addition to displays, exhibits, speakers, Voices of the Past vignettes and the popular story-telling in Christ Church at Upper Canada Village, a few authors will join the celebrations.
These include Beryl Young who wrote the book, Charlie. The book is based on her father’s experience as a British Home Child who was placed in Inkerman, Ont. Other visiting authors will be Penny Draper, who wrote Day of the Cyclone, and Sandra Joyce, author of Street Arab – A British Home Child Story. As was the case last year, the day will end with a British Home Child Day dinner at Willard’s Hotel.
The celebrations will also feature several travelling museum displays.
New to celebrations this year is Saturday’s British Home Child Day symposium at the South Stormont Township Hall in Long Sault. This event will begin at 9:30 a.m., with registration and coffee, followed by a day of exhibits, displays, speakers and research information.
Lorente, as one of the speakers, will share reflections from Home Children, and talk about Claude Nunney, a home child and Canada’s most decorated soldier from the non-commissioned ranks.
Nunney, who was one of three siblings sent to Canada about 1905, had a brother Alfie who lived in the Renfrew County village of Micksburg. The other brother, George, died in a drowning accident at a young age. Normally home children did not cross paths once sent to Canada, but Claude and Alfie met at a field hospital in France in 1918.
For more details about Home Child Day, contact Carolyn Goddard at 613-938-2455 or email firstname.lastname@example.org, Jim Brownell email@example.com, or Tom Brownell at firstname.lastname@example.org.