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It's Heritage Weekend Time Again!

by Christine Hayes - 0 Comment(s)

Heritage Weekend 007Stephen Avenue Then...and Now

It is once again time for our Heritage Weekend. We had a wonderful turnout last year and are looking forward to seeing even more folks down here on Friday September 23 and Saturday September 24. This weekend features a great line-up of people who are involved in the heritage community in Calgary and the talks and programs promise to be interesting and thought-provoking.

We are going to start the weekend off on Friday evening at 5:30 when we will host another Heritage Matters program on the main floor of the library (and after-hours, too, so you can see what happens after the customers go home!) The topic will be “The Convergence of the World in the Last Frontier” by Matthew Siddons, a recent Urban Studies grad. He will discuss the contributions of several different cultural groups to the heritage of Calgary.

On Saturday, join us in the Dutton Theatre for displays, discussions, films and more. We will be hearing about the British Commonwealth Air Training Program, Calgary’s historic resource evaluation system, medical history and how heritage groups are communicating in the age of Twitter. We are also hosting Reel History at lunch time. We will show short documentaries relating to the history and heritage of Calgary and Southern Alberta. Although this year we won’t have the clack-clack of the actual film projector, this still promises to be a diverting lunch time pursuit so bring your brown bag and join us. As part of the "festivities" we are also launching a new season of Family History Coaching. Volunteers from the Alberta Family Histories Society will be on the 4th floor in the genealogy area from 10-12 on Saturday to help you with your genealogical challenges. (This program is a drop-in so you don't need to register in advance - but we ask that you register for the other programs, please.)

The final program of the weekend will be a tribute to the great historian Hugh Dempsey, on the publication of his memoirs Always an adventure. In the heritage community Hugh Dempsey is an icon. He has been a great author, advocate and mentor and there will be many people at the Dutton Theatre who want to congratulate him on his exemplary career and his latest publication. Please drop by and offer your best wishes to this legendary historian. (This is also a drop-in program so you really can just pop on by).

Always an adventure by Hugh Dempsey

You can register online at http://calgarypubliclibrary.com/services/programs-events/register-for-programs or by calling 403-260-2620.

We hope to see you there.

The Heritage Triangle

by Christine Hayes - 0 Comment(s)

Heritage Triangle

Part of the reason we are so happy to be staying in the East Village is that we will still be smack dab in the middle of a very important group of heritage partners. Some years ago we formalized our association with our near neighbours and history colleagues, the City of Calgary Archives and the Glenbow Museum, Library and Archives. We call ourselves the Heritage Triangle, because within the radius of a couple of blocks there sit three very valuable repositories of information for researchers. (Once we move, the triangle may need to be renamed – maybe we’ll become the Heritage Line or the Heritage Ellipse) In the few years we have been actively collaborating, our affiliation has been very productive. We never hesitate to take advantage of our partners, in the best way of course. Each of us has wonderful and unique stuff and while we may covet just a little, we have also gotten to know the people and the collections so well that we know where to send researchers if we don’t have what they need. This is a very efficient and effective way to operate and it provides a very good service to our customers.

Each of the organizations involved in the triangle has its own different and interesting stuff. Among the Glenbow’s many strengths are an amazing collection of personal papers from individuals and families in Calgary and area, extensive data on Metis genealogy and an unrivalled collection of historic photographs of Calgary and Southern Alberta. They also have an outstanding map collection as well as directories from many different locales. You can visit the Glenbow site and see some of what they have to offer at www.glenbow.org.

Next door to us is the City of Calgary Archives (officially, the City of Calgary, Corporate Records, Archives.) Their mandate is to acquire, preserve and protect civic documents. Civic documents are the papers of people and departments of the City and its predecessors and organizations and individuals that have a close affiliation with the City. These can be of great value to researchers as they are the primary source materials for the administrative history of the city. The strengths of the City Archives collection include records relating to building research, such as records of tax assessments; records of official representatives of the municipal government such as mayors and aldermen/councilors and a whole swack of documents relating to the Calgary Winter Olympics. You can find the City of Calgary, Corporate Records, Archives online by going to the new, user friendly City of Calgary website (www.calgary.ca) and searching for Archives.

We here at Calgary Public Library are the last (but not least) leg of the Heritage Triangle. We have a wonderful collection of material in our Community Heritage and Family History Collection that is just waiting for you to explore. There is great material for historic research in other departments as well, such as our government documents collection on the 3rd floor. Some of the items in our collection are a complete run of Calgary Henderson’s Directories and telephone directories, an extensive collection of local histories of Southern Alberta towns, historic newspapers, a complete collection of Canadian Census on microfilm as well as three great photograph collections, available online through our website. We also have a great staff who are always available to help you – and I can say that for our partners as well, having worked with them as a colleague and as a researcher.

You can see the Heritage Triangle brochure through the link right next to this posting or by going to http://tinyurl.com/3b4soch Do come down and visit us – ignore the construction – we would be delighted to see you.

8th Avenue SE

Alison Jackson Photograph Collection, AJ 1331

Stephen Avenue

More Good News for East Village (and a tangent on the brutalist style)

by Christine Hayes - 0 Comment(s)

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East Village from Bow Valley College

Judith Umbach Photograph Collection, JU 030518-4

By now you know I am passionate about my adopted neighbourhood. I love the East Village and I am so excited about the developments that are taking place down here. You have all probably heard that our new Central Library will be down here in the Village and I saw on the news today that Bow Valley College had purchased the old Calgary Catholic Board of Education building which is just across 6th Avenue from us. This is yet another expression of the optimism that many Calgarians feel for the future of this area.

The Calgary Catholic School District building is relatively new, in heritage terms, but it does carry a great deal of sentiment. It was built in 1967 to commemorate the country’s centennial. A few years later, to celebrate the city’s centennial 10,000 students were asked to make terra cotta tiles. These were mounted on an obelisk that stands on the grounds of the building. The CSSD has indicated that they will be preserving and moving the obelisk. The CSSD building has been at the centre of some debate as it is one of the few surviving examples of brutalist architecture in Calgary. Other examples include the building’s neighbor, the Calgary Board of Education building, and the former planetarium (Telus World of Science). The Catholic School District building was a part of an earlier attempt to revitalize the east end of Calgary, a process called “urban renewal” (which is nearly a swear word in the heritage community.) Many buildings of historical interest went down to build these brutalist beauties and now they, themselves face the wrecking ball. But it is ever thus. What is seen now, as an eyesore – as were many of the old houses in the east end (as the area was known) may be viewed differently in the future.

The talk now of brutalist architecture raises some of these same questions. Brutalism lives up to its name because it is quite brutal on the eyes – no one could argue that these concrete structures are traditionally beautiful. In fact, it was the brutalist style that Prince Charles was referring to when he said, “You have to give this much to the Luftwaffe: when it knocked down our buildings it did not replace them with anything more offensive than rubble. We did that.” It is hard to generate love for something that is unattractive – think pandas versus gila monsters – but it is something we must consider when we are looking at buildings. If you are interested in brutalism you can find good books on architectural styles in the library catalogue by searching “architectural styles” in the general search. If you’re particularly interested in Calgary’s buildings, you can search “Calgary architecture”. And if you’d like to see some of Calgary’s brutalist architecture up close and personal, the Calgary Heritage Initiative is going to be holding another “Brutal Bus Tour” in November. Check out their website for more information.

Historic Calgary Week, 2011

by Christine Hayes - 3 Comment(s)

PC 712f

Eighth Avenue West

Postcards from the Past, PC 712f

It’s that time of year again. Chinook Country Historical Society’s Historic Calgary Week kicks off on Friday. This year the theme is Trails and Tales and, believe me, are there ever some great stories waiting to be told. The opening ceremonies are at the Southern Alberta Pioneers Memorial building at 3625 4 Street SW at 9:45 am and what follows is eleven days of tours, stories, presentations, songs and over all celebration of this city’s history. There is an excellent line-up this year including our presentation of “Lest we forget” in which we will talk a little about the military heritage of the city and show you some of the very neat things we have for anyone doing research about the military in Calgary or about an ancestor who served with the military. This one is proving to be quite a challenge for us to pull together because we have SO MUCH STUFF! It’s amazing what you find when you start looking. Even though I’ve been working with the collection for eons (literally, I’m a dinosaur) I always find new bits and pieces when I start one of these projects. Our program goes July 27 at 6:00 here at the Central Library.

Another presentation that I am looking forward to is the talk by Brian Brennan on the history of the Calgary Public Library. Brian has written the history of the library for our centennial celebration next year. I always love to hear Brian talk and the subject of this particular presentation is near and dear to my heart. This presentation is at the Memorial Park Library, our very first Central Library (1221 2nd Street SW) on Tuesday July 26 at 7:00. This is going to be a treat.

There is also going to be a tour of another proud centenarian, our old City Hall. Clint Robertson, one of the city’s Heritage Planners, is going to tell us about the architecture of old sandstone beauty and show us some of the changes that have been made over the years. He will also take us into the City of Calgary Archives. For any of you who are history geeks like me, you have to see what is in the archives. The staff there are the greatest and they have even cooler stuff than we do (well, mostly – our stuff is still pretty cool). City Archives are our partners, along with Glenbow, in the Heritage Triangle (see our brochure) and is a necessary visit for researchers and the history-curious.

John Gilpin will also be giving a talk on the Elbow River and the waterworks question at noon on Monday July 25 at Central United Church. I’ve heard John talk and he is like the Local History Room, just packed with fascinating bits of historical information.

Also on the agenda are two programs for the genealogically inclined offered by the Alberta Family Histories Society at their library at 712 16th Avenue NW. They will be offering a Genealogy 101 course for those interested in getting started in their family history and they will present “Here’s looking up your address” on Thursday July 28 at 7:00.

Clayton Buck, the indefatigable promoter of this great neighbourhood we are in (East Village) is giving a walking tour of the Village on Sunday July 31. The CHA is giving a tour of Mount Royal, CHI is doing a tour of West Connaught and the Beltline, Mount Royal University is talking about its centennial history, Southern Alberta Pioneers are giving talks about some of the early denizens of the Calgary area, Harry Sanders, another fascinating speaker, is talking about his passion, early hotels of Calgary...the list goes on and on. I wish I could list more but I’m running out of space. You really have to check out the Historic Calgary Week brochure. You can find it at http://www.chinookcountry.org/ Most programs are free, although donations are always gratefully accepted, and most don’t require registration (although there are a few exceptions, due to space limitations – these are noted in the brochure)

Keep an eye out, we will be attending as many of these events as we can fit in – come by and say ‘Hi!’

I.O.D.E. War Memorial in Central Park

Postcards from the Past, PC 1478

PC 1478

Old City Hall turns 100

by Christine Hayes - 0 Comment(s)

PC 221

Artist's rendition of proposed Calgary City Hall, 1909

Postcards from the Past, PC 221

The early part of the 20th century was a time of great optimism, not just here, but all over the world. In Calgary, that optimism was expressed in a population boom and the resulting building boom. As a result, for us here in the 21st century, there are a lot of anniversaries to celebrate. As everyone knows (;-) the Calgary Public Library is turning 100 years old on the 1st of January 2012. But another icon of the city, our beautiful sandstone City Hall turned 100 this year. It was officially opened on June 26, 1911 by the leader of the opposition, then the Conservatives, Robert Borden. That night he gave a speech at Sherman’s auditorium, where “questions of interest to Canadians” would be discussed. “Ladies,” the advertisement read, “are cordially invited.”

In order to build the sandstone building, the old city hall had to be torn down. A lament for the old building was published in the Herald in Wee Willie’s column. “They’re tearing down the old brown barn, which many people call, the poorest thing that ever held, the name of city hall. No more the filthy daily drunk, will call the place his home; no more cockroaches, beetles, rats will through its limits roam,” he wrote, concluding with “but though they may tear down the walls, destroy an earthly hell, there is a thing they cannot do—They can’t destroy the smell.” (Calgary Daily Herald, February 8, 1911, p.8) Must have been some place!

Anyway, back on track, the new city hall was built at a cost of around $300,000 which was double the original estimate. (You can imagine the political fallout from that-probably akin to the current issue in parliament surrounding the cost of fighter jets.) The sandstone came from the Bone and Oliver quarry up on what is now 17th Avenue SW. The clock in the tower was ordered through D.E. Black Jewellers and cost nearly $4000. The building has weathered the years well. It was given an exterior restoration when the municipal building was built in the 1980s and an extensive interior restoration from 1995-1997.

If you haven’t been inside this building, you should go have a look. It is quite beautiful and one of only seven original city halls still standing in Canada. We should be proud that we have kept the old girl.

Here is the link to a video, in which Heritage Planner, Clint Robertson, talks about the history of the building and the opportunities for Calgarians to take a tour of the building and the City Archives (housed in the 1962 addition next door) http://www.calgarycitynews.com/2011/02/old-city-hall-to-turn-100-this-year.html#

We also have a large number of photographs and postcards of City Hall in our Community Heritage and Family History Collection. We also have all kinds of information in the Local History room on the 4th floor of the Central Library. Come by, maybe after your tour of Old City Hall. We’re right next door.

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Entrance to City Hall, 1966

Alison Jackson Photography Collection, AJ 1060

Doors Open Calgary

by Christine Hayes - 0 Comment(s)

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Crest on the wall of Lougheed House

Alison Jackson Photograph Collection, AJ 0358

Here is a novel way to explore your city. In October, Doors Open Calgary will invite you in to see what goes on behind the scenes in some of Calgary’s familiar landmarks. So those of us who are curious (or just plain nosy) will get to see behind the facades into the innards of buildings of historical, cultural, social or architectural significance. Participants can gain an intimate feel for a place – a kind of "warts and all" affection. This intimacy can work toward fostering a sense of caring and stewardship for heritage in our communities.

Doors Open was a concept launched in France in 1984. The idea was to give people a chance to see, for free, an inside view of significant buildings in their city, some of which might not normally be open to the public. It was take up by other European countries and in 1999 it came to Toronto, the first North American city to embrace the idea. From an idea for a millennium celebration, it has expanded to an annual event and has spread to other communities in Canada.

Doors Open Calgary started in 2003, with 10 venues on their list. Participants got to see behind the scenes at the Municipal Building, the Saddledome and Haultain School. The next year, 2004, had 32 venues for interested visitors to check out. They are currently looking for organizations that would like to make their sites available for Doors Open in October. On Saturday February 26 they are having a demo event at the magnificent Lougheed House (707 13th Avenue SW). You will be taken along “secret ways” and will be able to explore the archives. You can register for this preview at this site: http://www.doorsopencalgary.com/index.htm

I can vouch for the feeling you get when you know a building’s intimate secrets. The Lougheed House has been doing a Doors Open-like event every year, the Ride Through Time. I have participated for several years and now feel that Lougheed House is like an old pal. I have seen her less glamorous side and love her all the more for it.

This year, Doors Open Calgary will take place on October 15th and 16th so mark your calendars. If you want to find out more or would like to participate, all that information is on their website at www.doorsopencalgary.com.

Of course, if you’d like to do some exploring of the lovely outsides of Calgary’s landmarks, you can always visit our Community Heritage and Family History Digital Library (link at the left). It’s a good way to start your exploration of the city’s heritage.

 AJ 0001

Beaulieu (Lougheed House), 1956

Alison Jackson Photograph Collection AJ 0001

Cow Town/Punk Town

by Christine L Hayes - 0 Comment(s)

Album Cover

The Golden Calgarians - It's Fun to Be Alive

From the Author's Collection

I may be showing my age here, but punk rock meant a lot to me. I had the misfortune to have missed golden era of counter-culture rock, I was still a pup when The Beatles broke up and the Rolling Stones had gone all “Emotional Rescue” on us. We were mired in glittering lights and Saturday Night Fever. But then my brother came home from university with a bootleg Ramones tape and my life gained new meaning.

I was lucky that I lived in Calgary. Young people are often shocked to learn that conservative old Calgary was once a hotbed of punk music. We saw the best bands and we produced some of the great Canadian punk rock bands. Do you remember The Golden Calgarians? The keyboardist from that band will be coming to talk about this city’s punk rock past. With him will be Lori Hahnel, local author and founding member of the all-girl band The Virgins. She will read from her novel, Nothing Sacred, which draws on her punk rock background and evokes very vivid memories of that time and place.

Because punk was a new kind of music, perceived to be violent and anti-establishment, a lot of the venues available for shows were the older, seedier hotels such as The Calgarian, The New Noble and The National. Kids with Mohawks and multiple piercings would invade the space occupied by the old fellers and good ole boys. I gained an appreciation for the old hotels and their gloomy bars and probably spent more time in them than was healthy. Maybe it was this that led to my interest in old buildings? (That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.)

Cow Town/Punk Town is just one of the many programs we are offering on our Heritage Weekend, November 6 and 7, at the Central Library. Check it out on our website http://calgarypubliclibrary.com/programs.aspx - just type ‘heritage weekend’ into the keywords search and you will pull up all the programs we are offering. You can also register in person at your local library branch or by telephone at 403-260-2620. Hope to see you there.

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Calgarian Hotel

Alison Jackson Photography Collection, detail from AJ 1326

Calgary Board of Education Celebrates 125 Years

by Christine L Hayes - 0 Comment(s)

PC 854

New Central School (later James Short School) 1907

Postcards from the Past, PC 854

In the next few years we are going to see a plethora of anniversaries being celebrated. The years at the beginning of the 20th century were a boom time for Calgary. Between the 1901 census and the 1911 census, the population of Calgary grew from around 4000 to around 44, 000. With the population growth came the establishment of important and lasting institutions and the construction of many fine buildings. The Calgary Public Library was built in 1911 and officially opened on the first day of 1912. The beautiful sandstone City Hall building was completed. In 1912 we celebrated our first Stampede. The street railway, our first transit system, was built in 1909. The period between 1900 and 1912 was one of major importance in the building of our city.

One organization, however, was already celebrating a significant anniversary in 1910. By that year the Calgary Board of Education was already 25 years old. On March 2, 1885 the Calgary Protestant Public School District No. 19 was formed by an order of the Executive Council of the North West Territories. A school had existed in Calgary before this time but it was funded through subscription, not through taxation. At the time of its formation, the Calgary Protestant Public School District No. 19 had 70 students and met in a small building on 9th Avenue and 5th Street SE. In no time the size of the student population had overwhelmed the school and space was rented on the second floor of a building on 8th Avenue E. owned by I.S. Freeze.

The student population continued to grow and the Board was forced to issue a debenture for the construction of a purpose-built school in 1887, which would become Central School, on 1st Street W north of 5th Avenue. By 1893, it, too, was overcrowded. Throughout these early years of its existence, the board was plagued by a shortage of classroom space necessitating the rental of rooms in various locations including the Alberta Hotel. In 1893 plans were put in place to build a new school, which would be called the South Ward School.

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South Ward School, 1958

Alison Jackson Photograph Collection AJ 23 13

Growth continued to be matched by the growth of the student population and, therefore, a growth in the school system. Some of those magnificent sandstone schools were built to meet the demand of the burgeoning population. We have pictures of many of those schools in our Community Heritage and Family History Digital Library, which can be accessed through the link on the left. We also have some very good histories of education in Calgary, such as From Slate Pencil to Instant Ink and From Slate to Computer by McLennan. We also have the 1906 annual report of the newly formed Province of Alberta, Department of Education. These are all available in the Community Heritage and Family History Room at the Central Library. The Calgary Board of Education has put up a really good PowerPoint presentation about some of their historic schools. You can see it at this link: http://www.cbe.ab.ca/125thCelebration/index.htm

Happy Anniversary CBE. Here’s wishing you another 125 years.

Museum of the Highwood

by Christine Hayes - 0 Comment(s)

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High River CPR Station, 1963

Alison Jackson Photograph Collection AJ 78 19

In a sad and ironic twist of fate, while we were celebrating Historic Calgary week, a much valued and beloved historic site was suffering. The Museum of the Highwood, in High River, was damaged by a fire which started in the early hours of Wednesday July 28. Thankfully, the fire was contained to the roof and attic of the structure. The collections were damaged slightly by smoke and water but archival material and photographs, stored in a vault, were unaffected. Members of the museum and archives community in Alberta pitched in with residents of High River to give their time and expertise to rescuing the collections.

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The Museum is housed in the old High River train station which has a connection to Calgary. In order to build the Palliser Hotel, the two existing station buildings which comprised what was the third Calgary CPR station would need to be removed. In order to do that a new station was built and the two smaller sandstone buildings dismantled. One would provide the material for the station at Claresholm and the other for the new station at High River. Interestingly, both stations are now being used as museums.

We are lucky to have photographs of the two train stations while they were still in use as stations. These photos are from the Alison Jackson collection and date from the late 1950s or early 1960s. Alison was correct in her assessment that these buildings might one day be under threat of demolition.

The Imperial Limited Arriving in Calgary, 1909

Postcards from the Past PC 604

Railway stations were being demolished in startling numbers as passenger train traffic declined. The efforts by the communities of High River and Claresholm have preserved an important piece of the history of the railroad in Western Canada. In far too manyplaces, the old stations were lost.

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Claresholm Train Station, 1965

Alison Jackson Photograph Collection AJ 86 12

For readers interested in the history of the building (and demolition) of stations across Canada, there is a great book in our BSSS collection called The train doesn’t stop here anymore: an illustrated history of railway stations in Canada by Ron Brown We also have a great collection of books relating to the railway and its role in the west in our Community Heritage and Family History collection here at the Central Library. One of my favourites is a description of the workings of the Calgary Depot by Ross Taylor, who worked there for many years. The book is called Through these doors: a look at the workings of the Canadian Pacific Railroad Calgary Depot, 1940-1966. It is a wonderful collection of memories, photographs and drawings that give a behind-the-scenes look at life in the Calgary station.

In addition to the books, we have a great collection of photographs and postcards in the Community Heritage and Family History Digital Library, accessible on the left hand side of this page. You can use the search terms “railway” and “railroad” and “train” to find hundreds of railway related pictures. Have a look. And remember, if you are a railway buff, or if your family, like mine, came out to work on the railway in the west, we have lots of very interesting stuff here. Drop in and see us sometime.

Year of the Home Child

by Christine Hayes - 0 Comment(s)

Barnardo Boys

A group of Barnardo boys from Miss Macpherson's Home, London, England, who arrived at the Marchmont Home in April 1922
Library and Archives Canada / C-034840

Canadian Parliament has declared that 2010 is the year of the Home Child. An official stamp will be issued in October to commemorate Home Children in Canada.

Approximately 100,000 children were sent to Canada from Great Britain between 1869 and 1938. It is believed that the descendents of these children make up about 12% of the population of Canada. It is interesting that many people do not know about this chapter of Canada’s immigration history.

The children who were a part of this scheme were supposed to be orphans or from families too poor to support them. They would be sent to Canada to work as farm labourers or domestic servants. A number of agencies, such as the Barnardo Homes and the Middlemore Homes, were involved in identifying and transporting the children. The premise behind this was that Canada was seen as a land of opportunity that could provide these children with a more promising future that what they would have had back home. Sometimes this was the case. We did some research a while back for a society who is working on a database of home children and found information about a young boy who was sent as a home child to a farm family in Saskatchewan. The family treated him like one of their children and eventually he went to medical school.

There were, of course, the other stories. Some children were abused and neglected and treated as slaves but it is a testament to their strength and persistence that many remained in Canada and became the foundation of families and communities. Some four million of us are descended from them but we often come across the fact that our ancestor was a home child by accident. The experiences of some were so traumatic or they were so embarrassed by their early circumstances that they never spoke of their history. We find out about it only when we start our research and hit the brick wall of a child immigrant with no family background.

There are a number of resources available to genealogists who have a home child in their family tree. Library and Archives Canada is a good place to start: http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/genealogy/index-e.html

From this link, click on Immigration and Citizenship, and then on Home Children. The site provides information and a link to the Home Children Database, created by another organization that has done a lot of work on documenting the experiences of home children in Canada, the British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa (BIFHSGO). The direct link to their site is:

http://www.bifhsgo.ca/home_children.htm

Pier 21 also has a site where the stories of home children have been collected. You can find those here:

http://www.pier21.ca/research/collections/the-story-collection/online-story-collection/british-home-children

And finally there is the site for the descendents of British Home Children:

http://www.britishhomechildren.org/

If you are interested in reading about home children in Canada, there are a number of very good books available at the Calgary Public Library. Some of the titles are Uprooted: the Shipment of Poor Children to Canada 1867-1917, Nation Builders: Barnardo Children in Canada and Neither Waif nor Stray: the Search for a Stolen Identity . You can find others in the catalogue by searching for the subject Home Children (Canadian Immigrants)

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