Many thanks to Dr. Elaine Becker for providing the information in this post.
Your help is needed!
Dr. Elaine Becker is in the process of compiling another local history which is related to an important immigration scheme that ran from 1923 to 1936 – the story of Burnside Lodge over the years and the young men who became valued citizens in this area of Ontario should not be lost.
Small scale operations began in 1903 when The Salvation Army established the “Migration and Settlement Department”.
The principles of the department were:
- The needs of the individual were of major concern, including his mental and physical condition
- Ascertain the reasonable prospect of the individual succeeding overseas
- The absorbing power of the overseas Dominion was taken into account
- The after care of the migrant was to be undertaken as a moral obligation by The Army
The work that was carried on at Burnside Lodge in Woodstock, Ontario should not be confused with any of the programs, such as the Dr. Barnardo group which brought orphaned children to Canada. The young men who came to Woodstock came by their own choice and planning.
The Salvation Army Boy Farmers Scheme
The Boy Farmers program was only a small segment of The Salvation Army’s immigration scheme. The Army sponsored and oversaw the migration to Canada of more than 250,000 immigrants from England and other European countries.
Young men between the ages of 14 and 20 applied to the Salvation Army to come to Canada under this plan. If accepted for the training, they attended farm training at Hadleigh Farm in England and then were examined for their suitability to immigrate to Canada. Once accepted they were booked for transportation to Woodstock or to Smith Falls, Ontario. They were employed by local farmers and their situations were supervised by an officer from Burnside Lodge. They stayed at the lodge until everything was settled.
Burnside Lodge was located on the present site of the YMCA at 808 Dundas St, Woodstock ON
Some of you may remember the building on Dundas Street and have pictures or memories of the facility later used during the war for housing the Women from the training base at the fairgrounds.
We are working to compile some of the stories of the young men who immigrated to Canada to work on local farms. If you can help in any way with this story or if you know any of the families who share those roots or any of the farmers who engaged the young men when they arrived, please contact the Oxford historical Society by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, thank you.