Between 1869 and the early 1930s more than 100,000 children were rounded up from the streets of Britain to be used as labourers in Canadian homes; often little more than slaves. Today there are two million or more descendants of what were derisively known in Canada as 'home children'.
Writer and journalist, Sean Arthur Joyce was shocked to learn in middle age that he was one of those descendants. These child immigrants had no choice: they could live in abject poverty on the streets of Britain, or be shipped to a strange country, never to see one's home or family again. The lives of Canadian child immigrants were rife with suffering: for the boys, back-breaking labour from dawn 'til dusk on a farm. The girls were earmarked for domestic service, mostly in isolated farm households, that left them vulnerable to sexual abuse due to their isolation. While some children would be welcomed into loving homes, others were exploited as cheap labour, little different than pack animals and many did not live to be adults.
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.