Kitchener-Waterloo Record September 2015

Kitchener-Waterloo Record

September 26 by Greg Mercer.

Fanshawe Pioneer Village in London, Ont., will host a gathering for descendants of British Home Children Saturday, Sept. 26, and Sunday, Sept. 27.

It’s believed as many as one in 10 Canadians can trace their ancestry to a Home Child, but those family histories were often suppressed, because the orphans were hesitant to talk about it.

“Many people don’t know about this, because former Home Children felt ashamed of their background,” said Sandra Joyce, an author who’s written several books on the subject. “They were not necessarily treated well by the people they were placed with.”

The gathering will be a chance to share those families’ stories, research genealogy and more, she said.

Joyce’s own Scottish-born father Robert Joyce was left at an orphanage at age nine and shipped to Canada. She didn’t learn he’d been a Home Child until after his death, and it helped her understand her father better.

“Being told they were going to the land of milk and honey, where money grows on trees, and winding up in a place where it’s worse than you were before, it must have been quite the shock,” Joyce said.

“You’d wonder why your family has given you up, I think that’s something you’d carry with you your whole life.”