Date of Award


Publication Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name




First Advisor

Howsam, L.


History, Canadian.



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.


In late nineteenth century Britain, thousands of children from poor neighbourhoods were sent overseas, largely to Canada, by well-intentioned philanthropists to improve both their individual prospects and the social conditions they left behind. The juvenile emigration movement has been viewed largely within the Canadian context; that is, from the perspective of the situation of the children in Canada as opposed to the conditions of urban Britain from which the children were being removed. Consequently, the individual cruelty of this solution to poverty has been questioned. The implementation of such a severe scheme must be viewed within the context of the age, in terms of the dominant values, attitudes, and popular beliefs that permeated Victorian society. When the philanthropists are viewed historically, they appear justified in their exportation of children. The child savers were acting at a time when neither the government nor society was willing to accept sufficient responsibility for the plethora of poor children in urban Britain. Proponents of emigration, like Thomas Barnardo, made excessive claims for the scheme and were prompted both by practical and philosophical considerations. In practical terms, emigration promised to solve the Canadian labour situation, while simultaneously remedying problems of poverty and unemployment in Britain. Theoretically, emigration expressed Victorian religious attitudes, notions of environmental heredity, ideals about proper family life, and theories of social imperialism. However, British attitudes towards emigration met opposition in Canada. Using a trans-Atlantic perspective to examine the movement reveals that the system was inherently flawed--burdened by the diametrically opposed attitudes of each respective society. The situation of the children in Canada must be re-evaluated in order to avoid completely discrediting the basically laudable intentions of the child savers. (Abstract shortened by UMI.)Dept. of History, Philosophy, and Political Science. Paper copy at Leddy Library: Theses & Major Papers - Basement, West Bldg. / Call Number: Thesis1995 .L42. Source: Masters Abstracts International, Volume: 34-02, page: 0575. Adviser: Leslie Howsum. Thesis (M.A.)--University of Windsor (Canada), 1995.