On the platform of Aultsville Station, where no doubt a British Home Child at one time sat with all their earthly belongings waiting for the stranger who was going to take them in, the British Home Child Day Committee of SD&G, announced plans for an event that will take place on the first ever British Home Child Day September 28.
The new organization, which has about 15 members mostly with ties to British Home Children, has been working at the planning the event which will take place at Upper Canada Village.
“Over 100,000 British Home Children came to our country to work in the homes and on the farms of Canadians. Overcoming incredible hardships, these children became contributing members of society,” said Carolyn Goddard, chairperson of the committee. “On September 28th, British Home Child Day in Ontario, we will have an opportunity to hear their stories and recognized the contributions they have made.”
This committee was inspired to organize this event after the British Home Child Day Act, a Private Members Bill brought forward in the Ontario Legislature by SDSG MPP Jim Brownell.
Brownell’s grandmother was a British Home Child.
“I am pleased that a group of locals have done the leg work to take this day and make is something special,” said Brownell at the Aug. 19 announcement. “I hope this day at Upper Canada Village will give Ontarians a sense of who these Home Children were and how they contributed to life in Ontario.”
“I foresee many people coming here to talk about their families’ stories, which were often stories not told,” said Brownell, adding that he hopes this will become an annual event.
Brownell will himself be donating a plaque and a tree that will be planted as part of the Sept. 28 event at Aultsville Station.
“This is a story that is just starting to be talked about,” said Judy Neville, a committee member descended from a British Home Child.
“Canada’s British Home Children are a part of our county’s history. They are part of our heritage. They represent a part of our past and their descendents represent a part of our future. Their stories need to be taught in our schools,” said Brownell.
Gabriele Thomas of Upper Canada Village said that they are pleased to have the collaboration with this committee for the upcoming event, hoping that in future it will expand.
Plans for the Sept. 28 event include the dedication of a maple tree at the Aultsville Station, displays from various Home Children organizations, an opportunity for friends and descendents to tell the story of their home child, and a specially planned British Home Child tour of Upper Canada Village. A theatre group from Metcalfe will perform a sampling of their upcoming production based on a Home Child story, and throughout the day, musicians will entertain. The day ends with a catered dinner at Willard’s Hotel.