Are you a descendant of a British child immigrant? Is there a ‘home child’ in your family background? How would you know? Join historian and author Art Joyce Thursday, November 3 at 7 pm at Touchstones Nelson, Shawn Lamb Archives, 502 Vernon St., for his presentation Laying the Children’s Ghosts to Rest: Honouring Canada’s Child Immigrants.
Between 1869 and 1939, 100,000 children were emigrated from Britain to Canada as a means of providing indentured labourers for newly developing farms or – in the case of girls – domestic servants for households. Tens of thousands more children were sent to Australia and New Zealand. Siblings were often separated and in most cases never saw one another or their parents again.
Joyce discovered that he was the grandson of just such a ‘home child’ five years ago while doing genealogical research into his Joyce ancestors. Since then he has expanded his interest to include research on the history of Canada’s child immigrants, and in particular, the impact of this on families in the Columbia Basin. He plans to compile a book based on both his family’s experience and the experiences of other Basin families who have ‘home children’ in their background. This project is supported by funds from the Columbia Basin Trust.
Joyce is the author of two books of West Kootenay history, A Perfect Childhood and Hanging Fire & Heavy Horses, on the heritage homes and public transit of the historic city of Nelson, BC. A passage from A Perfect Childhood is quoted in the Knowledge Network’s BC Moments series and he was a popular heritage columnist for the Nelson Daily News from 1996-2000. For the past seven years he has worked as reporter and arts and culture editor for the Valley Voice newspaper in the Slocan Valley. Joyce is also the author of two recent books of poetry.