Laying the Children’s Ghosts to Rest: Canada’s Home Children in the West by Sean Arthur Joyce, Hagios Press, 2014
Local Author Sean Arthur (Art) Joyce will launch his new book with a reception at the Gallery on Thursday, May 29th. With musical guest Jon Burden (of Holly and Jon fame), Doors open: 7 pm, Starts 7:30.
Between 1869 and 1949 more than 100,000 children were rounded up from the streets of Britain to be used as labourers in Canadian homes. Today there are four million or more descendants of what were derisively known in Canada as ‘home children’—one in eight Canadians. Writer and journalist Sean Arthur Joyce was shocked to learn in middle age that he is one of those descendants. These child immigrants had little choice: they could live in abject poverty in the slums of the United Kingdom and Ireland, or be shipped to a strange country, never to see their home or family again. For the boys that usually meant back-breaking labour from dawn ’til dusk on a farm. For the girls, it often meant being vulnerable to sexual abuse in isolated farm households. While some children would be welcomed into loving homes, many did not live to be adults. Those that did formed the backbone of Canada at a critical juncture in its history.
Laying the Children’s Ghosts to Rest is a captivating blend of memoir and history and offers the reader a personal, and highly readable narrative on the subject of Western Canada’s ‘home children’. With painstaking research and an ability to bring personal details to life, Joyce imbues the stories of ‘home children’ with a sense of redemption and human dignity in his quest for healing. Joyce asks, “Are we a people who have lost our ghosts? Or are we in fact haunted by them, but can’t remember their names?” as he raises the spectre of thousands of child ghosts who inhabit our Canadian landscape.