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Toronto monument will honour mistreated British Home Children

Oct 1, 2017 by

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Many of the 115,000 who came to Canada over 8 decades provided cheap labour and suffered abuse

By Mark Gollom –

They were told they would be leaving the bleak conditions of England for fresh air, clean country living and a better life in Canada.

But George Beardshaw, one of the children who made that trek, says that when he arrived alone at an Ontario farm back in 1938, it was soon made clear to him what was expected.

“I was there to work,” says 94-year-old Beardshaw, sitting in his London, Ont., home. “They told me that many, many times: ‘You’re here to work.'”

Beardshaw’s mother was unable to look after her three boys and sent her sons to an orphanage in Woodford Bridge, Essex. Both his brothers had left the orphanage, with one settling in Canada.

So when the school inspector came around asking who would like to go to Canada, Beardshaw raised his hand.

“I wanted to come over here and be a cowboy, or see the wheat fields,” he said.

Instead, only minutes after he arrived at the Little Britain, Ont., farm, 100 kilometres northeast of Toronto, the then 14-year-old was told to put on coveralls and mow the lawn.


George Beardshaw came to Canada in 1938 and lived on an Ontario farm. ‘I was there to work,’ he says. (Colin Butler/CBC)

In reality, Beardshaw, like so many of these children, found their real purpose was to provide cheap labour.

“They never did a damn thing for me,” Beardshaw says. “I worked, worked, worked, worked.”

Lori Oschefski, CEO of the Barrie, Ont.-based British Home Children Advocacy and Research Association, said few Canadians know about the plight of the 115,000 British Home Children who immigrated to Canada from the U.K. between the late 1860s and 1948.

Source: ‘It’s like they never existed’: Toronto monument will honour mistreated British Home Children – Toronto – CBC News

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