In the summer of 1984, as a young mother of three children, I discovered a family secret….my grandmother and three of her eight siblings had arrived in Canada from Wales in 1907 as “Home Children”. I was to learn that after the untimely death of my great-grandfather, his widow had done everything in her power to maintain the fatherless family of nine children. Through a series of unfortunate circumstances, four of her children were shipped to Canada with a large group of orphans from the Barnardo Homes. This story haunted me, and it started me on a quest to learn more.
In 1990 I traveled to Wales to meet new-found relatives, the sons and daughters of the siblings who stayed on with my great-grandmother in Wales, and consequently, I researched the child emigration movement. I began to know the truth…..that much of what really happened to those children was a well-kept secret…one that had been quietly ignored in Canadian and British history books, even though 12% of the Canadian population are descendants of Home Children.
As a mother, I could understand the anguish that my great-grandmother must have felt during this series of life altering events. In the early 1990’s I left a career as a music teacher in order to support our eldest daughter who had suffered severe brain damage after contracting meningitis. I felt a mother's deep sense of loss. Writing music was a therapeutic outlet for me: I had recently won the Molson Songwriting Competition and had been published in Nashville. I began putting my ancestors’ story to music.
“HOMECHILD~The Musical” received an extensive workshop at the Charlottetown Festival in P.E.I., and has since been produced in Erin, Oakville, Ottawa, and in January 2013..Orangeville
Other plays on the same subject have been emerging in recent years. This is a story that must be told. At last, the Home Children are being remembered for the hardships they endured and they are being appreciated for the contributions they have made to our lives. HOMECHILD~The Musical is being presented as a tribute to the Home Children, and it is dedicated to their memory. It is with love and respect that I offer my interpretation of their story.
Homechild~The Musical © Barb Perkins, 2005 - 2019