It was Friday evening and we were sitting at the Train Station in Hampton waiting for Ken to arrive from Moncton.
While we sat there, Mum told us that for several years her Grandmother would not go to bed until the midnight train from Saint John blew its whistle at the Lakeside Station. It seemed her son John, for one reason or another had left home at a young age to seek work in the States and not once did he write to her. She hoped that one night he would come home on the Midnight train and he would find her waiting for him and so he did.
Things were different for15-year-old Joseph Lorente when he stepped down from the train at Killaloe Station, Ontario at four in the morning. No one showed to pick him up for four hours.
Joseph Lorente was born in Cardiff, Wales, as were his three sisters and two brothers. Their parents fell on hard times in Cardiff and they moved to London, England. Things were worse there so his father moved to Paris where there were in-laws or relatives. Joseph's mother was left with no visible means of support. The six children were taken from her and placed in homes. A priest saw great potential in Joseph's athletic and academic ability and under the auspices of the Roman Catholic Emigration Society's Westminster Branch arrangements were made to send him to Canada. Since he was 15 and considered to be an adult there was no need for an official escorting officer. 0n February 18, 1914, he along with another boy, Alfred Miller boarded the Virginian for the voyage across the Atlantic to the Port of Saint John with a dollar in his pocket and a train ticket to the village of Killaloe that was 130 miles northwest of Ottawa.
At 4:00 a.m. on the cold morning of February 28, the train pulled into the station and young Joseph Lorente stepped down to find himself all alone in strange surroundings. Finally after a four-hour wait, the farmer arrived to pick him up. If he had hopes of finding himself in the care of a kind loving person, his hopes were soon dashed. He slept in the summer kitchen and an incident with a pitchfork caused him to run away and hide in the woods for two days and nights until found by neighbours who returned him to St. George's Home from which he was placed on a nearby farm.
The second placement outside Ottawa was wonderful, and here he was treated as family. Even after he was married, he continued to have a close relationship with these people.
His athletic talents shone in soccer. He spent a year or two in the USA outside Boston playing professionally for Stelco. Since they would not let him actually work for fear he got hurt on the job and could not play, he came back to Ottawa. Until the age of 34, he played on local soccer teams. In1943 he organized and coached the first soccer team in Hull.
Joseph was a railroader spending virtually all his adult life with CNR, a keen Union Official and an advocate of minority rights, whether in the church, society or the labour force.
Memories of home and his teenage years must have been very painful or he merely reacted as even the Home Children placed in good homes in Canada did. He never talked of his life in the UK, his parents, or the circumstances of his coming to Canada. His four children were told not to ask and they did not. He did speak of his brothers Arthur and Willie and his three sisters, especially his older sister Annie. He talked of being in school in London, playing on the soccer and cricket teams, testing for university but having no sponsor, and playing in the school band.
Before his death in 1965, he requested his son Dave, who was going overseas, to pay a visit to Manor Park - his school and also advised him that his sister Annie was still living in Paris.
Once Dave became aware his father was a Home Child, he wrote 35 of the 50 or so former sending organizations of Home Children and asked if they had records for his father, and indeed what records they did have.
In the fall of 1990, he was asked to give a talk to the local Heritage Society in his hometown of Renfrew, Ontario on the subject of his choice. When he announced the topic would be Home Children, one of the directors commented, "I was not allowed to play with Home Children when I was a child. " That was the very second that David realized that Home Children were stigmatized and that was why they did not talk and others who knew their story were ashamed to talk about them too. He advertised the event far and wide as a reunion for Home Children, their families and friends. More than 200 came - some from hundreds of miles away.
When asked at the Reunion, Dave volunteered to help Home Children find their record at no charge. Once word got out, he was snowballed by requests and now averages 2,500+ a year. He and his wife Kay are both retired Educators. They have attended meetings, presented briefs and given talks to groups of Home Children Descendants as well as Government officials not only in Canada and the United States but in England as well and all at their own expense.
The desire to unlock the secrets of his father's past has led him on a never-ending journey not only to find the details of his father's early life and relatives but to be instrumental in helping the aged Home Child and thousands of the descendants of Home Children gain access to records as well as lobbying for the release of these hard-to-find files.
If you have an interest in Home Children, visit David's site
The lonely Home Child is no longer alone as approximately eleven percent of the population of Canada is related to a Home Child.
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Alexander - McAuley: I am trying to find more related family to Hugh Alexander, who was born in 1795 and died Feb. 23, 1848 and his wife Ann (McAuley) Alexander, who was born in1796 and died Jun.1 1869. They came from Donegore, Antrim Co., Ireland in 1823. They are buried in the Old Oak Bay Cemetery, Charlotte Co. I know that there is someone out there as there is a direct path to their grave and there are flowers at the base of the tombstone. I can shake my tree all I want but I do need some help here. We are trying to put the finishing touches to the family here and research over the water but can not move onward without the final touches.
-Elizabeth Severin, 11 Cardinal Terrace, Quispamsis, N.B., E2E 1M8. Phone 506-849-3502. Fax 506-849-1768. Cell phone 506-646-0911. E-mail to email@example.com.
MacRae - Gilchrist - Murchison: I am seeking information on the names of the parents of Mary MacRae, born circa 1821 in New Brunswick and died May 6, 1895 in Prince Edward Island. Her mother's maiden name was perhaps Gilchrist. Mary MacRae married my great grandfather, Simon Murchison. Any help will be appreciated.
-Catherine Gallinger, 2601 Golden Rain Road, #2 Walnut Creek, CA, 94595. E-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ruby is a genealogy buff. Readers are invited to send their New Brunswick genealogical queries to her at email@example.com. When E-Mailing please put Yesteryear Families in the Subject line. Please include in the query, your name and postal address as someone reading the newspaper, may have information to share with you but not have access to E-mail. Queries should be no more than 45 words in length.