Okay I have a confession to make! It’s the last day of 2020 and I just finished reading The Forgotten Home Child! I love Historical Novels and this one just made me sit back and really pay attention, I could not put it down.
The Forgotten Home Child follows the lives of 5 outcast children! We follow them from their roots in Ireland and England all the way to the New World (Canada)!
While this book is a novel, it is steeped with truths that were lived by thousands of children! These truths are hard to read about. Canadian History books never mention the exodus of children from the British Isles. When I say exodus, I mean just that. Estimates of upwards of 100,000 children were removed from their native soil and re-established in Canada, Australia and further. This was happening on a regular basis during the 1850’s right up till the mid 1930’s! can you believe that?
Many of these children were picked up off the streets of London England and placed into orphanages. Some were sent to the orphanage by their own parents, who could not afford to feed them. Depression and industrialization caused many people to leave farms looking for work in the cities. They flooded into the cities, with their families in tow. Many children were left to their own devices and took to stealing in order to eat. Gangs of kids would be roaming the shops in the hopes of finding food or stealing from shoppers while they were occupied or not attentive. These children if caught by the police would be turned into the “homes” for unwanted children.
What happened to them after that is nothing short of Slavery that happened right here in Canada!
When they had enough children together, they would load them onto a boat and send them across the ocean to a New Land! Farmers and others would “sponsor” these children until they were 18 years old, then they would work for the farmer until 21 (or their debt was paid). Their debt was their voyage from England to Canada.
I don’t want to give you too many spoilers, but what was waiting for the children here in Canada, is not what they had been promised when they left England.
A Quote from Mother Teresa opens the book and that quote is: “Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat!”
This book is a page turner that you will have a hard time putting down. the lives of Jack, Winnie, Cecil, Mary and Edward are all connected. What happens to this rag-tag family is truly terrible. Yet the characters themselves must come to grips with their own past and make peace with it.
This book was an eye-opener for me and I’m sure there are things that you would never have thought possible to happen here in Canada. But I assure they did happen and it is part of our History.
Maybe your family has some Home Children in the family tree! If you want to know more about the Home Children there are several links that will help you understand it better. Do you think there is a Home Child in your family? Check out the government’s website of Home Children Records. Or you can check with British Home Children in Canada.
I am sure that you will not regret reading this book, it is an eye-opener for sure!