The Golden Bridge – Child Migration from Scotland to Canada 1869-1939

The Exhibition

Reception

The earliest emigrants were delivered to the three receiving Homes set up by Miss Annie McPherson.

The initial stop of the first party, 1872, was at Brome Hall, Quebec, from where 12 of the children were taken into respectable homes. They re-visited Brome Hall every Sabbath for a friendly reunion and a Bible Lesson.

At the Receiving Homes

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“At the Belleville Home a number of friends had assembled, who did not want to hire, but adopt, among them Professor Blair to see whether he could get ‘a wee Scotch lassie’ to be a companion for his own daughter.

At Blair Athole Home at Galt our friends were met at the railway station by Mr Merry with his van and farm team [of horses]. The girls and the luggage were driven off, while the boys fell into line and marched through the town to the Home. When the newcomers had enjoyed a hearty supper, a number of the ladies of Galt assembled to make their acquaintance and to hear them sing.

Six of the contingent had to go farther into the new homeland, to Fonthill, where one of the applicants, a Master Miller announced ‘I’m from Glasgow — could I no get a boy frae ye?’ Though in a foreign land and in the midst of strangers, the children found themselves at home from the first.”

On the Farms

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“Everything was mud and the first thing I had to buy out my wages was knee-high rubber boots. Learning how to harness horses was confusing. However I learned very quickly and in May I was working the horses in the field, preparing the spring planting.

We rose about 4.30am and worked as long as it was daylight, usually about 9.30pm. They were atrocious hours for a young boy, but it was usual for the time and nobody thought there was anything wrong.”

Ellen Buck was 12 when she arrived in Ontario in 1911 and should have gone to school for nine months in the year; but often there was too much work around the farm to be done:

“Many a time I cried with cold hands and broken nails, picking up turnips, of which we had many loads, then putting them through a chopper.”

“Mrs Pritchard was good to me and taught me to make bread and churn butter. We would spend a day killing and cleaning chickens for market where we sold them, and butter and eggs.”

“I was glad when my sister Jessie moved closer. It was five miles away. I would visit her on Sunday and run back the five miles to help milk the cows.”