Landmarks to light up in memory of the 15,000 Scots children shipped to Canada

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A number of landmarks across Scotland will be lit up next month in memory of the 15,000 Scots children split up from their families and shipped to Canada.

St Andrew;s House and Victoria Quay in Edinburgh will be illuminated on September 28 with the SSE Hydro in Glasgow taking part in the commemoration on October 6.

They will be lit in the colours of the Union Flag to mark the 150th anniversary of the arrival of the first large shipment of children from Britain in Canada.

READ MORE: The 15,000 Scots children shipped to Canada
It is estimated 15,000 Scots were sent to Canada as part of the British Home Children programme of forced emigration and cheap labour that lasted almost 100 years.

The commemoration been timed to coincide with British Home Child Day, which will be observed nationally in Canada on September 28.

READ MORE: How the Scots built Canada
Bertha Henretty, of Edinburgh, a volunteer with The British Home Children Advocacy & Research Association (BHCARA) has helped to organise the illuminations.

Two of her great uncles and a great aunt were sent to Canada with Ms Henretty able to trace what happened to them through the association.

Ms Henretty said: "It is important that these children should be remembered as they really helped to build a nation " It is estimated that well over one million Canadians are descended from the British Home Children."

She said it was "fabulous" that those running the buildings had agreed to take part in the commemoration. The SSE Hydro is due to be illuminated on the weekend of a Still Game performance with Glasgow woman Linda Gilfeather, who is also part of BHCARA, approaching the venue.

Ms Henretty's relatives were taken into care after their mother struggled to look after her four youngest children following the death of her husband in 1914.

Following the death, the family of 11 children moved from a tied farm cottage in Inveresk to a flat in the Southside of Edinburgh. The four youngest were taken into care at Craiglockhart Poorhouse and were sent to Quarriers a few weeks later.

Three of them were sent to Canada by Quarriers between 1916 and 1924.

The two boys, William and Charles, arrived in Canada in 1916 and 1920 respectively with both children working for the Holmes Family in Winchester, Ontario as farm labourers

The girl, Isabella, was sent to Canada in 1924, aged 16, where she worked as a ladies maid for various people connected to the Holmes family.

The three siblings moved into the same boarding house in Kingston Ontario in 1930 and seem to have found an “adopted” family who thought very highly of them, Ms Henretty said.

All three have since passed away with all buried in St James Cemetery in Toronto.

Ms Henretty managed to trace her family's information through the BHCARA and has since gone on to volunteer with the organisation to help others find out about their ancestors.

Her family story is typical of others who lost relatives through the British Home Children programme.

The programme, which ran from 1863 to the 1970s, was originally to free children from the hardships of the slums and the poorhouse and give them a fresh start in the clean air of rural Canada that was desperate for a workforce

While some did fare well, many young ones were traumatised after being split from their brothers and sisters and in some cases told they were unwanted and even that their parents were dead.

Last year, the UK government has agreed to pay compensation of £20,000 to those sent to the Commonwealth between 1945 and 1970. Around 2,000 people who went in this time period are known to be still alive.