14 September 2008

The times they are always a-changin'

I devoured the new issue of Anglo-Celtic Roots, the quarterly chronicle of the British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa, in one sitting on returning from September's monthly meeting. What was so enthralling was a series of articles on home children, many of them stories of adversity overcome.

Some people choose to look upon the saga of Canada's home children as one of social injustice. They focus on the sense of abandonment the child had to live with, for some mistreatment, hardships, and various difficulties along the way, which is the reality. The situation these children were in in Britain when they were orphaned or given up by an overwhelmed parent or next of kin is also reality.

Referring to conditions in Britain one of the articles expresses it "The life of an orphan could be brutal indeed and the benevolent societies, that we in retrospect are very critical of, came into being because of horrendous conditions some orphans and abandoned children lived under." Given the options of the day, not the desirable ones wishful thinkers might pretend, immigration to Canada under the auspices of a benevolent society, appears in most cases to have offered the least undesirable path.

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