A school for home children. 

The emigration of poor children from the streets and workhouses of Britain to the colonies started in 1869. Maria Rye purchased the former Niagara Courthouse and Gaol in 1868 and converted the building into an orphanage known as Our Western Home.
The "Rye Girls"
Most of the children were girls aged 5 to 12, who were trained in domestic tasks before they were adopted or hired as indentured servants. Maria reportedly brought over 4,200 children to Canada. The home received support from local leaders and the community. The townspeople would often wait at the wharf to greet the young girls. But, the community’s sentiment was often a mixture of pity and suspicion; the children were the lowest on the social ladder. Our Western Home was in operation until 1915 when it was forced to close because of WWI.  

Our Western Home was demolished in the 1920s. Today, this area is now a park.

This agreement shows that Ann Barton, 13, was an indentured servant under the care of prominent Niagara residents, Henry Paffard and Robert N. Ball.

Elizabeth Parrons, 13 years, was one of 21 girls and young women who sailed on the ship "Parisian" that departed from Liverpool on July 25, 1901.

Caroline Newbold caught typhoid fever while working for a family. She was transported back to Our Western Home where she later died of the disease. She was 14.

Why Were these Children Sent to Canada?
The emigration of orphans from the slums of Britain was controversial. Those who supported the cause were motivated by their Christian duty to relieve the children's misery and provide them with new opportunities to thrive. Some saw these children as future inmates who would put a financial strain on society. There was also a lack of employment in England for children following their training. In Canada, there was a labour shortage. Children, being cheap and impressionable, could be trained to suit any employer needs. 
Maria Rye 
Maria genuinely believed that her program helped these children have a better life. But, in 1874, the British authorities responsible for child emigration commisioned Andrew Doyle, to report on the children sent to Canada. He was critical of both the policy and practice, especially of Maria Rye. The report stated that the girls experienced poor travel conditions, lack of training prior to placement, and little supervision after placement. Criticisms also included a lack of interview and inspection of the hosts and the homes in which the girls would be placed. Maria vigorously challenged Doyle’s report. To her benefit, the Ontario government, the media, and Canadians denied the validity of his findings. Despite her reluctance to improve upon his critiques, many of which were accurate, Maria would continue her work. 

Miss Emily Bayley took over Our Western Home after Maria Rye retired.

Letter from Maria Rye to the charge of Eliza Chapman, a former orphan child of Our Western Home.

Niagara Historical Society & Museum
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