Tuesday, June 03, 2014

A Time to Cry by Rose McCormick Brandon

For the past eighteen months or so I've been working on the book, Promises of Homes, Stories of Canada's British Home Children. Though all the children whose stories appear in the book, except two, have passed on, I've sensed a strong connection to them. As I read their letters, gazed at their photographs, dug up their documents and talked to their off-spring, they became like my children. I grieved over the abuses they suffered and ached for their loneliness. After leaving overflowing orphanages in Britain, these little ones landed on isolated Canadian farms with strangers, most of whom lacked empathy.  

Much was expected of these young immigrants. Though none had ever set foot on a real farm, they were expected to work adult hours in the barn and in the fields. No excuses. Many were mistreated and half-starved. Though their placement families had contracted to send them to school, most didn't.

Like seed, these British Home Children were scattered from Atlantic to Pacific, not in handfuls as would have been appropriate for children, but in singles, one here, another there. Hampered by the derogatory label, Home Child, severed from their familial connections, against the odds, they took root and became grounded and sturdy enough to change the landscape of our young Dominion.

It's time for Canadians to cry over the abuses they suffered, to applaud their successes and, most of all, it's time for us, as a nation, to say, "thank you."

The stories of the these immigrant children are now intertwined with my story. For better, or for worse, we're in this project together.

Walter Goulding
Meet Walter Goulding. Walter was eight when his mother died and his father went off to fight for England in WW1. When Walter's father returned from the war, he didn't reclaim Walter from the Barnardo Home for children in London. He re-married, had another son, and when Walter was thirteen, he gave Barnardo's permission to send him to Canada for a "better life."

Walter was placed with a childless couple on an Ontario farm. He said, "I came from the big city of London. When I landed on that farm, I looked up and thought, O Lord, where am I?"
When we think of the children, like Walter, and the many hardships they faced alone, our hearts can't help but go out to them.

Walter says that as an eight year-old standing alone in the corridor of that Barnardo Home in England, he felt God with him.

Today, Walter is the oldest living British Home Child in Canada. He lives in a seniors' facility in
London, Ontario where he recently celebrated his 106th birthday. Walter still weeps for the little boy in this photo who lost his entire family.

The writing is finished. My next step is to introduce these children to the rest of Canada. As a group they weren't embraced by previous generations. My hope is that the present generation will take them into their hearts and keep the memory of them alive. As Canadians, we owe them that. Telling their stories is my way of saying thank you to the children. Stories will keep their memory alive.

Walter's complete story is in Promises of Home, Stories of Canada's British Home Children.


Rose McCormick Brandon is a descendant of four British Home Children.  She writes books and publishes articles on faith, personal experience and the Child Immigration Scheme. She lives in Caledonia, Ontario.




David Kitz said...

What a wonderful project, Rose. Far too few people know about the British Home Children. You are making a valuable contribution.

Peter Black said...

I'm so happy for you Rose, knowing, as I do that you were passionately working on this worthy project for some time.
Wonderful front cover too!

May your vision for the book find fulfilment and a warm place in hearts wherever it goes. ~~+~~

Peter Black said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tracy Krauss said...

It is amazing to think of the hardship and also the fortitude of these young souls

Rose McCormick Brandon said...

Thank you everyone. It's true that few Canadians know anything about the Home Children - who they are, why they came and what impact they had.
Today, 10% of Canadians can trace their ancestry to a Home Child. Many are just discovering the young immigrant in their family trees.

Carolyn R. Wilker said...

As I've been following your blog and reading those stories, some of them pretty heart-rending, I look forward to getting a copy. Will you make the book available to bookstores where even more people can see it?

Waiting to get my own copy. :)

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