Photographs from Canada, 1894

As a Records, Archives and Information Manager at the Together Trust it’s not always about finding historical treasures in the archive (although I wish it was!). So when I do get a few moments to do some research and come across a gem it makes it all the more worthwhile.

Our emigration photograph album (Together Trust Ref: M189/9/2/4) is one of my favourite items in the collection. It consists of photographs taken in Canada in 1894 by one the Refuge’s committee members, Gilbert Kirlew, who was visiting the boys there at the time.

‘Taking on Post’

The beauty of this album is the demonstration of one man’s genuine interest in this Refuge activity. The album is taken almost in holiday format, with photographs showing the trip by boat across the seas (including the arrival of a post boat, assorted passengers and icebergs straight ahead!), various sights in Canada and Buffalo, USA, as well as some of the children working on the farms. The images give a real insight into Canada at this time as well as showing the daily life of those emigrated by the charity.

‘Coming Home’

Of course to those lucky few whose ancestors are contained in the book it also gives some genealogists images of how their relatives lived on the farms. The charity has other photograph albums of the emigration parties before they set sail to Canada. These were taken outside Manchester Town Hall and in some cases name each child in the picture. Other books have individual images of the children before they set sail to Canada. This album however, is the only insight of the children in Canada itself.

‘Post Office, Beaver Rapids'

Gilbert Kirlew was a recognised authority on child emigration at this time. As well as inspecting the Canadian homes in 1894 he also presented a paper on emigration to the Manchester Statistical Society. He was later empowered by the Manchester Poor Law Guardians to arrange emigration for poor law children through the Refuges.


  1. Well I have to say these for me are real treasures, thank you for finding them and posting them

  2. Hi Andrew,

    Thanks for your kind comments. We will be digitising some more of these wonderful photographs in the summer and putting them up on Flickr so keep your eyes peeled for that!

  3. Well done and thank you for finding them and posting them


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