02 July 2008

Cockneys to Canada and other East End stories

Every so often you come across a gem of a web site.

If your ancestry has a branch into the East End of London this collection of stories by John Rennie, who has been writing for East End Life, a weekly newspaper published since 1996, will draw you in. On the About page he writes "It (the site) enables us to post all those pieces that never quite make it to the pages of East End Life … and strays off in search of related titbits about London, its news, museums, shows and other arcana. We even stray beyond the boundaries of Tower Hamlets. But at heart it’s those history pieces - some 600 or more of them now and counting."

There's a search capability which I tried by searching Canada. Some of the articles found were:

Cockneys to Canada, about the activities of the East London (Family) Emigration Fund which started operation in 1869 and boasted after having shipped over 1,000 souls that ‘since their arrival in Canada excellent accounts have been received from all the emigrants, not one of whom has expressed a regret at having left England. Even when difficulties have arisen, such as must naturally be expected from persons settling in a new country, there is a tone of hopefulness in their letters, which show the writers had no doubt of their ultimate success.

Ships of Hope and Deported kids, about home children and particularly the Barnardo's organization. Some thrived, but some did less happily. An example of the the contrasting fates of two boys – William Carter and James Carver – sent to Canada in 1884 from the Barnardo’s home in Stepney Causeway is given.

Two-gun Cohen, is about another home child whose story progresses from the East End, to the Prairies, to China.

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