Doris Kathryn “D” Sweeney, adopted daughter of Frank Russell Sweeney (1875–1924) and Elizabeth Douglas Sturgeon (1874–1948), was born in Toronto on December 28, 1916. The name she had been given at birth was Kathleen Londors. Her biological mother was Janet Cathlean Avena Londors (1890–1973).
Doris died in Bracebridge, Ontario on April 25, 2006, at the age of 89. She was buried at Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Toronto.
Doris’s biological mother, Janet Londors, was what is known as a “British Home Child.” The Barnardo’s organization (formally known as the “National Incorporated Association for the Reclamation of Destitute Waif Children”) had brought her to Canada in 1909, at the age of 18.
Origins of the British Home Children
The British Home Children were boys and girls from the United Kingdom who were relocated to British dominions and colonies in other parts of the world. They were sent to places like Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa in the belief that these children would have more opportunities there. More than 100,000 of these young immigrants came to Canada between the 1860s and the 1940s and they would have a lasting impact on their new land.
British Home Children in Canada
Most of the British Home Children sent to Canada were hosted by farm families, where they would be put to work. The boys tended to be employed for farm labour while the girls would perform domestic duties in the home, as well as help out in the fields. Some of these children were lucky enough to end up with loving families that treated them well and gave them affection. Many of them, unfortunately, would be treated very poorly.
The organizations that coordinated the British Home Children programs often kept their young people in placements for set periods of time. Regularly moving from one family to the next meant there was little stability in their lives. The charities were supposed to check in on an ongoing basis to ensure the children were being cared for properly. In practice, this rarely happened and the children were frequently neglected or abused. Many lived wandering lives, moving from farm to farm, while some ran away from the mistreatment they suffered. Some children even died.Excerpt from the website of Veterans Affairs Canada, British Home Children
Lindner, Margaret D (Leslie), William and Isabella Masson Campbell of Hastings County Ontario: Their ancestors and descendants, Budgate Press, Ypsilanti, Michigan, 1983, pp 187-188.