Toronto Orphanages and Day Nurseries

Matron with three orphans


In the nineteenth century, the choices for orphaned and neglected children were limited. Orphanages provided a temporary home until the children could be adopted, re-united with family members, apprenticed to a trade, or indentured as household servants or labourers.

The Orphans' Home and Female Aid Society

The Orphans' Home arranged apprenticeships for children as young as twelve. The Home's regulations stipulated that wages of fifteen shillings per year were to be placed in a savings bank for the child's use at the end of the term of indenture, age twenty-one for boys and eighteen for girls.

Image - The Orphan's home - Title Page
The Orphans' Home for Toronto and County of York Rules and Regulations &c, 1851. BR

The Protestant Orphans' Home

The Protestant Orphan's Home had its beginnings as the Orphans' Home and Female Aid Society in 1851.

Privately sponsored organizations like the Protestant Orphans' Home provided children with food, clothing, shelter, health care and religious and moral instruction. They also prepared children for their future in the working world by teaching them to read and write.

Image - Protestant Orphans' Home Exterior
Protestant Orphans' Home. Photograph, 186-?. JRR 934

The Lady Managers of the Home reported annually on the placement of their children. In 1909, the report states that sixty children were admitted over the last year and eighty-three left the home. Seventy-two left with a surviving relative, five boys and four girls were apprenticed, one boy was adopted, and one girl was sent to the Home for Incurable Children. There were no deaths.

Image - Protestant Orphans' Home Interior
Protestant Orphans' Home, Dovercourt Road, Toronto. Photograph. 58th Annual Report 1909. Papers of the Orphans' Home and Female Aid Society. L30