The Golden Bridge

Child migration from Scotland to Canada, 1869-1939
By Iriss
Published in Online learning materials on 12 Oct 2015

Telling the story of the thousands of children who migrated from the Orphan Homes of Scotland to to new lives in Canada, The Golden Bridge was inspired by an original exhibition created and displayed by Heatherbank Museum of Social Work in Glasgow Caledonian University. The Golden Bridge project was a collaboration between Iriss, Glasgow Caledonian University and Quarriers.

Between 1869 and 1939 over 100,000 children were migrated from the United Kingdom to Canada by British philanthropic organisations. Although they were described – in the parlance of the Victorian era – as 'orphans, waifs and strays', in fact around two-thirds had at least one surviving parent and most were from families experiencing extreme poverty.

Once they arrived in Canada, the younger children were adopted, the older children committed as indentured labourers. The Scottish philanthropist William Quarrier (1829-1903) through his Orphan Homes of Scotland was involved in the migration of 7,000 of these 'Home Children'.