British Home Child advocate awaits roadway decision

County Rd. 12 — the proposed British Home Child Roadway. Nation Valley News photo

CORNWALL — A local history aficionado anticipates that SDG Counties Council will render a decision next week on her proposal to commemorate County Road 12 as “The British Home Child Roadway.”

Carolyn Thompson Goddard, who grew up in Chesterville, pitched the idea June 20 to Counties Council, after receiving earlier support in principle from the councils of both North Stormont and South Stormont.

The issue is dear to Goddard, whose maternal grandfather was a British Home Child.

British Home Children were impoverished or orphaned children from England, Ireland, Wales and Scotland who were shipped to Canada, between the 1860s and 1930s, as indentured farm and house labour. Ranging from three to 18 years of age, an estimated 130,000 or more such children arrived in this country as a result of the Child Migration Scheme, working in a similar number of Canadian households.

Goddard points out that despite the hardships endured by these youngsters, they usually “grew up to be solid citizens.” Many went off to fight for Canada in both world wars. And yet, she says, British Home Children often kept their immigration stories from family members because of the ostracism and difficulty suffered during their childhood years. In many cases, only when descendants begin researching their family tree is the truth discovered.

She sees County Road 12 as a suiting tribute to British Home Children because the roadway “travels the length of Stormont, passing through agricultural lands where these child immigrants would have worked as well as being located near the centre of the United Counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry.”

The 35-km route connects Long Sault at its south end to Crysler in the north, running through Newington, Finch and Berwick along the way.

If final approval is granted by Counties Council, Goddard says she will fundraise to pay for the signs and seek agreement on their design from the three involved municipal governments.

No address changes will result from the designation, she notes, citing the example of County Road 43’s special designation for the SDG Highlanders, and County Road 2’s status as the “Heritage Highway.”

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