BIBLE HILL – Bill Hill is eager to meet others who have connections to British home children.
Hill, a Truro resident, will emcee the 11th annual British Home Child reunion this Saturday in Bible Hill. The event will take place at the Bible Hill Junior High School on College Road at 9 a.m., beginning with registration.
About 100,000 British Home Children were sent to Canada by British Child Care organizations beginning in the late 1800s. The four to 15-year-old children worked as farm labourers and domestic servants until they were 18. Many spent their lives trying to identify their parents and find their siblings and most were unsuccessful.
Hill has been attending the local British Home Child reunion for a number of years since finding out his grandfather, Ernest, was a British Home Child.
“I found out by accident. I was doing research for someone else and did my own search,” said Hill, adding not a lot is known about his grandfather’s past.
Ernest was from a community near Birmingham, England and arrived in Canada, most notably in Quebec, at the age of 13 and was known “as a traveller.”
Hill continues to find out more about his family’s past because it’s “nice to find out something about your background.” He said that’s one of many reasons why attending the reunion is so valuable.
“One in eight people could be a descendant of a British Home Child … and you get to speak with others, find (similarities), hear stories, and make friends.”
Catherine West, chairwoman of the British Home Children and Descendants Association, encourages people to participate in the reunion.
“There were quite a few in Truro and area. A lot came here … a few hundred at least … because it was a farming area,” said West, whose grandfather was a home child from Birmingham, England and landed in New Brunswick.
“Mostly (home children) have been forgotten. And many of the children were made to feel shame and not talk about it (growing up). They were free, cheap labour and a lot were abused and many people don’t know who they were.”
There is no registration fee for Saturday’s reunion, which will include a special guest speaker, Halifax-based genealogical expert Terry Punch.
A number of other activities will take place and the gathering will end at Victoria Park with a dedication of a bench and tree that were place in memory of British Home Children.
If you go:
What: 11th annual British Home Child reunion
When: Saturday beginning at 9 a.m. with registration
Where: Bible Hill Junior High School
9:30 a.m. – Welcome and announcements
10 a.m. – Power point, pass the mike
11 a.m. – Break, prizes
11:30 a.m. – Business meeting, election of officers
Noon – Group photo, cutting of the cake, lunch
1 p.m. – Guest speaker
2 p.m. – Questions and answers
2:30 p.m. – Draws
3 p.m. – Closing, going to Victoria Park