Friendless or Forsaken? Child Emigration from Britain to Canada, 1860-1935

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Between 1860 and 1935, about 100,000 impoverished children were emigrated from Britain to Canada to seek a new life in the “land of plenty.” Charities, religious workers, philanthropists, and state-run institutions such as workhouses and orphanages all sent children abroad, claiming that this was the only way to prevent their becoming criminals or joining the masses of working-class unemployed.

Friendless or Forsaken? follows the story of child emigration agencies operating in North West England, tracing the imperial relationships that enabled agents to send children away from their homes and parents, who often lost sight of them forever. The book sheds light on public support for the schemes, their financial beneficiaries, and how parents were persuaded to consent to sending their children across the world - frequently without fully realizing what rights they had signed away. The story charts the legal measures introduced to maintain and regulate child emigration schemes, as well as the way “home children” were portrayed as both needy and dangerous on each side of the Atlantic and how the children themselves sought to overcome prejudice and isolation in an unfamiliar country.

Exploring the transnational economy of child emigrations schemes, Friendless or Forsaken? records the bravery and resilience of those children whose lives were altered by this traumatic and divisive episode in the history of empire.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationMontreal
PublisherMcGill-Queen's University Press
Number of pages272
ISBN (Print)9780228021285, 9780228021810
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2024

Publication series

NameStates, People, And The History Of Social Change
PublisherMcGill-Queen’s University Press


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