Wednesday, 23 June 2010

A Middlemore tale

I would like to thank a correspondent named Julia who has shared with us this research concerning her husband's cousin in Canada whose grandfather was an emigrated home child under the scheme operated by Middlemore Homes in Birmingham. This gentleman's experience has parallels with the experience of one of our own relations in my dad's family tree.

This is Julie's email and we would thank her husband's cousin for consent to publish this short article: 

Hi Pete,

This is the story, or part of it of my husband's cousin, who we tracked down in Canada. Although life was hard there, William didnt appear to suffer any abuse.


"On May 27, my grandfather was placed in the Middlemore Home for children in Birmingham. During his time here, he along with other children were exposed to promotional photos that showed the "beauty of Canada". They were told that they could go to Canada to live with with an adopted family if they so desired.

"Grampie decided that he would go in the hope of finding a better life. From 1865-1935, about 100,000 young children came to Canada from orphanages in England. The only problem with many of these adoptions was that the families only wanted to have the chilren so that they could do the intensive manual labour required for maintaining a farm. Some children were abused while others were treated quite well. They were known as British Home Children.

"On May 14, 1920, my grandfather left England forever aboard the "Minnedosa" and he landed in the port of Quebec, Canada a few days later. He told me that two of the passengers on the ship had died and were buried at sea. He was then put on a train for Taymouth New Brunswick where he met his new adoptive parents for the first time on May 23,1920. Their names were Herb and Winnifred McBean. The McBeans put him and his baggage on a horse drawn wagon and they rode the two mile drive to a large farm. My grandfather was fed lunch upon his arrival and then he was given a tour of the farm. Once the tour was completed, he was told to work. There were no other children around the farm and he was not allowed to associate with other children when he was off the farm. He did go to school for a short while but he says he had more formal education than his teacher.

"On May 14, 1930, he married Nellie Blanche Moran whose father was also a former Middlemore resident. Together they raised seven children: Ernest Wyton (May 11, 1931- Sept 7 2003), Ethel Wyton (b, April 27 1932), Gladys (b.Aug 28 1938), William (Bill) (Feb 10, 1941), Dorothy (Pat) (b.Feb 10 1944), Sheila (b.May 13 1949) Deborah (b. Aug 14, 1955)

"I don't believe the McBeans were abusive to my grand-father but they did work him quite hard. Herb died in 1942 while his wife lived another 23 years. Grampie inherited the farm and although the house is still standing, it is in need of some major repairs. It was built in about 1837"

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