Happy Father’s Day!

Father’s Day – how do you honour your father?

Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers, grandfathers and great-grandfathers out there! How do you spend the day? What does Father’s Day mean to you?

My father was one of the 7,000 children sent out to Canada through the Orphan Homes of Scotland between 1861 and 1938.

Although he was born in Kennethmont, Aberdeenshire,

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Dad was raised at the village homes near Bridge of Weir, approximately 15 miles west of Glasgow.

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The name Orphan Homes of Scotland implies the children who went there were orphans. That wasn’t always the case. My father wasn’t an orphan. He was one of ten children and after his mother died when he was just two years old, his father had a stroke and couldn’t look after the family.

Grandpa Robertson was married twice. The children from his first marriage helped out as best they could, but in the end, my father and four of his siblings (all from the second marriage) who were sent off to the Orphan Homes of Scotland.

Cottage 1 Quarriers Village - Broadfield Home
My father and his brothers, George and Andy, stayed here in Broadfield Home (Cottage 1).

Because there was no such thing as co-ed living, sisters couldn’t stay in the same house as their brothers. Brothers couldn’t even visit their sisters without the housemother’s consent and only for a short time.

Cottage 13 - Quarriers Village
My father’s sisters, Barbara and Christina, stayed here in Leven Home (Cottage 13).

After my father came to Canada, he worked on a number of farms in the Brockville area and enlisted with the Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry Highlanders during World War II.

photo of my father
Robert A Robertson 1913-1969

Phillips Cables (sadly now the property is just an empty lot) provided him with employment from the time my father returned from the war and while he worked there, he met my mother.

robert and ruth's wedding 1950
My parents’ wedding – July 22, 1950

Sadly, I lost my Dad on April 29, 1969 as the result of a workplace injury. He may not be with me anymore but he lives on in my heart.

7 thoughts on “Happy Father’s Day!”

  1. What an interesting post! I’ve heard they worked those poor young people like slaves on the farms that accepted the orphans in Canada. Was that his case? He had a hard life, yet made good, and it’s a reminder of how easy we’ve had it in comparison.

    It’s a lovely tribute to your dad on Father’s Day.

  2. In some cases the children were worked like slaves but I don’t believe so in my father’s case. He liked it on the farm where he was placed and the farmer and his family liked him, too. A lot of these children never spoke about their past so it was a great shock when the fact they were Home Children was discovered after their deaths. I knew all along that he grew up in a Scottish orphanage and that’s how he got to Canada. What surprised me was, I expected the orphanage to be more like a hospital, say, and not a village of ‘cottages’.

    One of the things he brought to Canada with him was a booklet made up for a jubilee for the Orphan Homes of Scotland with photos of all the various cottages, school, church, woodworking shop, store and other buildings. That wee book has pride of place on my bookcase along with a number of other books on Home Children.

  3. Very nice post Melanie !! Your father must be very proud of you seeing that you are keeping him and his values alive in your thoughts and work !!! Great !!

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