Hosted websites will become read-only beginning in early 2024. At that time, all logins will be disabled, but hosted sites will remain on RootsWeb as static content. Website owners wishing to maintain their sites must migrate to a different hosting provider before 2024 (More info)
The Holland Familly - Robert Holland's Story
The Children's Home
Mass Meeting at Mechanics' Hall
Great Interest Manifested - A Good Work Commenced
The Hamilton Evening Times, Tuesday, June 3, 1873
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada


Robert Holland's Story

The Children's Home
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

  1. Chronological History
  2. Newspaper Articles

  3. 1873 May 29, Spectator
    1873 Jun 3, Hamilton Evening Times
    1874 Oct 7, Hamilton Times
  4. Children to Hamilton

  5. 1873 May, SS Polynesian
    1874 Sep, SS Texas
    1884 May, SS Sarnia
    About the SS Sarnia
Internet Links
Last evening a public meeting was held in the Mechanics' Hall, for the purpose of hearing an address from Mr. Francis Horner, Honorary Secretary of the London (England) Children's Home, in connection with which (as our readers are aware) a branch has been formed in this city, the first instalment of boys and girls having arrived a few days ago. Fifty in number, they occupied the front seats in the Hall last evening.

Among the gentlemen seated on the stage were Revs. A.B. Simpson, M. Benson and H. Lanton; Messrs. D.B. Chisholm, M.P., H.B. Witton, M.P., Ald. Lister, A.I. MacKenzie, W.E. Sanford, George Roach, Sheriff Thomas and T.C. Watkins.

In the absence of his Worship Mayor Charlton, who had kindly consented to preside, but was prevented, owing to a meeting of the Board of Aldermen, Mr. Sanford took the chair, and the proceedings commenced by the Rev. A.B. Simpson being called upon to offer prayer.

The Chairman made a neat introductory speech. He said that it was about twelve months since the Rev. T. Bowman Stephenson, the Honorary Director of the Children's Home of London, had visited Hamilton, and told the people about the little ones of that great city, who were wandering through the streets, without home or friends, and in conditions of the most abject poverty, and had asked our citizens to assist the institution which had been set on foot by kind friends at home to redeem these poor children. He (Mr. S.) was glad to say that some noble hearts in Hamilton had assisted in the work, and now $5,400 had been subscribed towards the payment of the beautiful home which they had purchased near the Delta, and over $4,000 of this had been paid in. The applications for the boys and girls who had already arrived were far greater than the number who had been brought out, a fact that would enable the friends of the children to procure better places for them. Mr. Sanford mentioned the fact of a merchant of the city having applied for several of the lads to work in his warehouse, and he had no doubt but good situations could be procured for all that might be brought out. It was a noble work, and one which commended itself to the sympathies and support of our citizens.

Francis Horner, Esq., of London, England, was then introduced. He said that this was the first time he had stood before an audience on this side of the Atlantic, and he did not feel just as much at home as he did in addressing an audience in the Old Country. However, this was not a part of the work which he devoted himself to. His labours were more amongst the children themselves, in searching for and bringing them to the Home. The last duty he had performed, in bring the children across the Atlantic to seek new and happy homes amongst Canadian friends was an exceedingly pleasant one, knowing, as he did, that the warmest sympathies of many were enlisted in the movement. He had not regretted that he had come and brought the children, and since his arrival nothing but the greatest kindness and cordiality had been extended towards him. The people of Canada had certainly acted very differently in this matter from what those of England would under the circumstances. All through the voyage, and on the way up from Quebec he and the little people in his charge had received the greatest kindnesses, and when they had safely arrived in Hamilton he could not help but think of the kind friends they had passed on the way.

Mr. Horner then graphically described the mode of life of the Arabs of London, who take up their lodgings in the lowest hovels and back streets of that great crowded city, and gave some of his personal experiences in searching for these homeless waifs. The Home was established to better the moral condition of the children, prevent them from becoming criminals, and fit them to become respectable members of society. None but those who had taken the trouble to investigate their condition, could form an idea of how these boys and girls passed their time in London.

He remembered one night having gone out in the winter, and seeing something dark in the snow on the pavement, he stopped to see what it way, and lo! There were no less than six little boys all huddled together, everyone of them barefooted, and without a whole garment upon them. He asked them what they were doing there, and one of them replied that they were getting a warm! On examining the place where the children lay he found that there was a grate in the pavement, through which came heat from the kitchen below, and they were endeavoring to warm their half-famished limbs before retiring to their boxes or barrels for the night in some lonely alleyway or unfrequented street.

At his request, the boys took him to see where they slept. They walked down Thames street to a long, dark lane; it was after midnight, and by the light of the dark lamp which he always carried when out on such errands, they pointed out their respective hiding places, some in boxes, some in barrels, etc. Two of them said they were brothers, and for two years they had been living in this way, picking up whatever they could and selling it for food upon which to subsist and lodging as described.

He heard all their histories from their own lips, and while he was with them the measured tramp of a policeman was heard, and in a twinkling everyone one of them disappeared, and he (Mr. Horner) had to account for being there at such an unseemly hour as best he could.

Mr. Horner also told of some of the experiences of a friend of his in London, who is actually engaged in behalf of the poor children. His friend one night went to the same lane, and announced in a loud voice that he would give a halfpenny to every boy who would come out of their hiding places. One by one they emerged, and he ranged them along in single file. On counting them he found that there were eighty! Such a scene was a disgrace to the great city.

Mr. Horner then went on to mention that the children had not, nor would they be, brought over to Canada as they were taken from the streets. It would be no credit to them if they done so, but children that were worth something are being and would be sent out.

In connection with the London Home they had a carpenters shop, printing office, etc. These boys were instructed in whatever occupation they chose, while a farm was maintained in connection with the institution where they were taught farming. The promoters of the work did not intend to make any canvas for funds, and had no desire to establish a new charity in Canada. If the people wish to help the branch of the institution started in Hamilton, all right; assistance would be acceptable, but there was no compulsion in the matter. The children would be sent out, and he had every confidence in the friends taking an interest in the work here that they would be cared for and provided with respectable situations.

Mr. Horner was frequently applauded during the delivery of his address.

The Rev. M. Benson was then called upon. He gave some interesting statistical information respecting the homeless children in England and Wales, and said that in London alone there were no less than 100,000 needing food, raiment and home daily. Canada could do a good and noble work in giving them an individual home, and, by so doing, would benefit herself.

Rev. A.B. Simpson was next introduced. He cordially joined with the gentlemen who had taken part, and moved in the establishment of this institution. Our English friends had dealt most liberally with Canada. He had no fear whatever of its interfering with our local charities. In fact he thought it would have contrary effect in strengthening the virtue of charity amongst our people.

D.B. Chisholm, M.P., was then introduced. He addressed himself to the boys, warning them to avoid evil habits in this country, impressing upon them to beware of tobacco and whiskey. He also impressed upon them the necessity of honesty if they wished to succeed in life.

The Chairman asked the children who had signed the temperance pledge to stand up, whereupon every one of the recent arrivals rose to their feet amidst the hearty plaudits of the audience.

H.B. Witton, M.P., was next called upon, and gave a very neat little speech, referring to the after benefits of assisting these children. England, in sending out these trained children, benefitted themselves as well as us.

Mr. Sheriff Thomas, on being called upon by the Chairman, said that he had come to the meeting accidentally, having read the notice in the evening papers. He congratulated the audience that, at that late hour, he was unprepared with a speech, and would very briefly address the meeting.

A former speaker had remarked that he had no experience of the scenes which Mr. Horner had brought under the notice of those whom he addressed; he (Mr. Thomas) could not echo this remark, as he had served a very long apprenticeship amid the vice and misery with which the world abounded. At an early age, when a medical student, he had traversed the low and dangerous neighbourhoods which Mr. Horner had described; he had lived in the midst of poverty and profligacy, and had visited scenes into which none who had not a charmed life dare to enter; his had been at that time a charmed life, his person was held sacred by those among whom he was thrown, for, while the missionary was safe in seeking the welfare of souls, he was equally safe in his professional visits in seeking to restore health among the sick ones.

His early education in these scenes was matured by his long connection with the jail, and he could tell those whom he addressed that if there were vice and misery in London, they had abundance of it here also. He could speak of some of the results of profligacy, and of the career of gutter children; he was about to forward to the Reformatory a child of similar origin to those who were now enjoying their sympathies; if he were asked to tell of the benefits of such an institution, amid, he hoped, many successes, he must speak of a young man whose career had fallen under his notice during a period of ten years; he had forwarded this party, at a very early age, to the Reformatory; again he had been committed to the Reformatory; and, at this time, he was about to have him conveyed to the Penitentiary for further crime!

Mr. Horner had spoken of misery and crime among the juveniles; he had spoken of prisons and of philanthropic institutions; he (Mr. Thomas) could also speak of these things as existing here as well as in England, and, in all this, they were each dealing in resemblances. Mr. Thomas would now speak of contrasts; true, we had here a Boys' Home and an Industrial School; we had earnest hearts and liberal contributions; but unfortunately, in our comparatively narrow sphere we had also children whom we could not separate from parents and old associates. In the larger fields of our great cities the children could be entirely disconnected from old haunts and old habits, and hence an opportunity for good was afforded by the present movement which we in this country did not possess.

If the institution before us would carry out the promises made--if it would educate the children before bringing them here--if it would break down the old habits and plant new desires in the hearts of the children--if it would train these young plants before they were rooted in this new soil, it would be doing a work, which we cannot so well do, and would deserve the sympathy and support of all of the community. He (the speaker) would give this new movement his confidence, would bespeak for it the earnest sympathies of all, and he trusted that it would prove one of the many instrumentalities now in force for the welfare of the rising generation and the regeneration of society.