Barnardo's Hazelbrae/ Margaret Cox 1883 - 1922











Hazelbrae in Peterborugh

Photo copyright BHCARA vintage Magazine Collections


The names of just under 9,000 children, mostly girls, who came through the Hazelbrae receiving home.

For the list of the names, immigration panels by immigration years visit: British Home Children in Canada


The Hazelbrae Barnardo Home officially began receiving children on July 22 1883. This home was donated to Barnardo's to use by George A Cox.  In 1912 the home was re-named "The Margret Cox Home" for girls (in honour of the wife of the original benefactor George A. Cox). The home closed in 1922 and by 1939 was completely torn down. Today a Heritage plaque recognizing the home stands on the grounds of the former Hazelbrae home. 

A description of Hazelbrae by Brian Rolfe

The house in Peterborough had 3 functions that I can think of. 'Clearing house' describes one of them nicely. Unlike the boys, who according to the magazine Ups and Downs were put out, some of them, along the immigration party's way to the boys' home in Toronto, the bulk of the party to be sent on from Toronto to their destinations in Muskoka, say, or southerly points in Ontario, the girls went as a party to Peterborough to be distributed from there, all of them (at least according to any accounts I have seen of travelling parties in the 'Ups and Downs.') east from Pterborough to the Ottawa River and south to Lake Ontario, west to Toronto and beyond.

I suppose in this 'clearing house' function you could include the sending and receiving of correspondence and the keeping of records, the office work in other words.  The second function of Peterborough was as the girls' section staff residence of the Canadian operation. Matrons, secretaries, visitors or inspectors; Names like Janet Loveday and Miss Woodgate come to my mind from the 1890's and 1900's but there must have been dozens and dozens of female staff who resided there in the years between 1883 (or so) and 1924, when the house closed and the girls section moved to 538 Jarvis Street Toronto 5 years into the Hobday regime. According to what one reads in Ups and Downs which started publishing in 1895 the house never provided a residence for male staff but there may have been a period when it was not the Canadian home for strictly female staff, this in the years to 1892. Edward Duff, Captain W G Annesley, the first two Canadian superintendents of the whole shebang, boys and girls, may have lived there with their wives. There was a person identified as a teacher, too, for many of the years, but I have never seen a doctor or a lawyer on the staff list (as there were always at the boys' home in Toronto, though both these professional probably served the two Toronto Barnardo houses, and the lawyer the Peterborough house as well.) 

In its function as residence Hazel Brae also served some girls who worked there as servants to the staff. They slept in a different part of the house than did the staff. No doubt the staff both in their private and work identities entertained guests.

 The 3rd function of the Home was as a holding area for girls whom it was difficult to place, were ill, had gone through bad experiences in their placements, were in between placements, and possibly this would include girls who had become pregnant, at least until the time that Barnardo's established a dedicated maternity home in Toronto, around 1895, to house the pregnant girls during their confinements. Hazel Brae was also a venue for social visits for some of the girls coming in from the country either just for that purpose, or for other reasons too, such as a visit to the Peterborough Fair.

As to your second question: is there a resource as to how these children were placed? That is a tough one. Put aside first any notions you might have of modern or even 1910's and 1920's social work. Think work, think money think ignoring completely any consideration that might try to take the character of a particular child into consideration and connect her with an employer of like character and mind. Think service, the inculcation of willing servitude into the  soul of the girl, the complete subjection of her individuality. This needs more work this question of yours.

You also asked: where they were placed: the only resource I know for the placing locations of girls are government records, and these in no systematic way at all -- a crap-shoot for sure. Ups and Downs has a partial list of boys placements up to the Great War or  so, but details as to where the girls were placed were kept out of the magazine pretty much completely, so far as I have seen them. (It is possible that in some of the first two years of publication of Ups and Downs the editors were as open with the addresses of some of the girls as they were with those of some of the boys for a very long period.)

We really need a good critical history of Barnardo's in Canada. We have been lazy colonials for long enough.

Brian Rolfe