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Thursday, December 9, 2010

Finding Information on a British Home Child

Helen posed an interesting question about a British Home Child.

The Canadian Parliament designated 2010 as the Year of the British Home Children. Volunteers and descendants are making a special effort to alert people to this part of Canadian history, as well as discover the histories/relations of the children.

Charles Thomas BULPITT b. 1907 (parents Andrew Sidney BULPITT - Alice Emily SMITH) emigrated to Canada - age 16, August 4, 1923, on the ship S.S. Megantic, under the auspices of the Marchmont Home, Belleville. He was placed on the farm of J. Benson Cox near Goderich. This proved to be an abusive environment. Charles committed suicide Dec. 22, 1923, & is buried in the Colborne cemetery.

We have contacted Charles' niece in England who was not aware of his life in Canada. She has contacted Barnardo's for information but will not receive documents for another 8 months.

With your experience you probably know where to find facts re this boy's short life in Canada, where he is buried in Colborne, who paid for the headstone (picture found/sent by a BHC volunteer),community feelings, & other facts to complete a picture of Charles BULPITT's life. The material is all forwarded to the English relatives.

Dear Helen - Such a sad fate for a young teenage boy. I can tell you from personal experience researching a British Home Child that the Barnardo's files are very complete.

The files I received for my husband's ancestor Albert Finch contained summaries of letters exchanged between the Home and young Albert. These summaries gave a very good glimpse into Albert's life in Ontario. His first placement was not a happy one and he ran away. Full details were given for this event, and also what was done when the boy was found. His second placement was successful and he was treated very well there.

There were also sketchy details of the families Albert was placed with, and his determination to save enough money to bring his younger brother and sister to Canada to join him.

All in all a fascinating glimpse into a young orphan's life and plenty of detail to flesh out his first years in Ontario.

In the meantime, while you are waiting for the Barnardo records to arrive, here are some suggestions for further research:

I see that Charles was attended at the Brophy Funeral Home in Goderich Ontario. I would find out if they still exist and if so, write to them

Write to the Cemetery where Charles is buried and ask them to send you the information from his burial.

Write to the local church

Write to the Funeral Home

Write to Huron Co. Museum and see if they have any details

Is there a newspaper for that area and that time period? There may be some mention of young Charles and his suicide.


  1. Thank you for this post. It is very interesting. I have done some research into British Home children for some Canadaian clients. You or your readers may be interested in my webpage on British Home Children There is also a group on facebook.

  2. Lorine: I am not sure if I ever sent you an email in appreciation of your response to my query re. Charles BULPITT, a British Home Child. If not, I do so now.

    We continue to collect facts re. his trials here in Canada. Apparently in England he was well educated & studied French, Spanish, History & Maths. He wrote to his old history master that he was unable to keep up his education in Canada and had just read one book which had been given to him by a Mr. Cox. Gifts from his family were returned by an official after his death, which showed that they cared for him.

    Anyway, you see that we continue to search for information re. Charles. I do wish to thank you for your support. Helen

    Sorry re. profile: not sure what to choose.