The Story of The New Brunswick Protestant Orphans’ Home
house shook with each gust of wind from the Nor'easter that was raging through
the valley. The accompanying snow was quickly being formed into high drifts.
To keep us entertained, Mum gathered us near her and commenced to read from
her ‘Anne of Green Gables’ book.
Within moments all ears were tuned in.
I could visualize the busybody, Rachel Lynde, sitting on her porch watching
Matthew Cuthbert, who was dressed in his best suit of clothes and white collar,
drive by in the horse and buggy.
The visit to Marilla Cuthbert, who was sitting in her kitchen knitting showed
just how nosey Rachel Lynde was. Of course the first thing she spotted was
the table set for three, which really sparked her curiosity, especially since
Marilla was using her everyday dishes and there was only crab-apple preserves
and one kind of cake.
I could even see the look of surprise on Rachel’s face when she heard Matthew
had gone to the Bright River train station to pick up a little boy from an
orphan asylum in Nova Scotia.
By the time Mum finished reading the first chapter, I had cuddled close to
her with tears in my eyes as I thought how terrible it would be to not have
a mother. I wondered what it was like for poor Anne to live in an orphanage
and now to be taken to an unknown house with strangers.
I asked Mum, “Are there orphanages in New Brunswick?”
“A Century of Caring - The Story of The
New Brunswick Protestant Orphans’ Home” by Harold McCullagh tells
about the province's largest one.
After the Cholera of 1854, a group of 15 ministers of Protestant churches
set about collecting funds for an orphan asylum to assist children who had
lost their parents. In January 1855 a proposal was presented and shortly
afterwards a house was rented on Pond Street in Saint John with an elderly
husband and wife engaged to act as house-parents – of what was then called
the St. John Protestant Orphans' Asylum.
The number of orphans being cared for in the early years was small. There
were 13 in the care of the matron Miss Caroline Sarah Frost when the Great
Fire broke out on June 20, 1877. At that time the home was being operated
in the Millidge Building at the corner of Carmarthen and Britain streets.
This structure was razed in the fire after the orphans had been evacuated
to the General Hospital, which had been built in 1865. When those in charge
of the “Home for Little Wanderers” in Boston learned of the New Brunswick
orphans' plight, they offered to take them in on a temporary basis. The matron
and children accepted the offer and took free passage to that city, where
the orphans lived for several months, until they could again be accommodated
in Saint John.
The earliest building still associated in the public mind with the New Brunswick
Protestant Orphans' Home was located on Britain Street in the South End of
the city, the cornerstone of which was laid on September 2, 1880. A
period of growth in admissions and charitable support followed. An 1895 report
reveals the generous donations that were being made at that time. One gift
mentioned was the annual picnic sponsored by Mr. Manchester. It was also
noted that E. G. Nelson had supplied slates and that Mrs. R. Hunter had contributed
two barrels of apples.
Not all Protestant orphans in the province were welcomed, however. Incredible
as it seems today, for the first 60 years of its existence, illegitimate
children were barred from the Home.
In 1919, a building for orphans was opened in West Saint John. The next year,
40 of the older children were being housed there and 44 of the younger ones
at the Britain Street location. The acquisition of the spacious Manawagonish
West Side property paved the way for numerous improvements and innovations.
For example, a small farm was established, and a three-classroom school was
In 1945 there were 200 children in the care of the Home. It continued to
meet a need for many more years, but by the 1970s, the winds of change were
blowing. With government assuming more and more responsibility for child
care, and the public no longer being so supportive of orphanages, the doors
of the institution were closed – and a charitable foundation created in its
In “A Century of Caring - The Story of The
New Brunswick Protestant Orphans’ Home” (1986) author Harold McCullagh
describes the institution's rise and fall – and about its founders, directors,
operators, buildings, programs, etc., in great detail. There are no children's
names or stories in this book, however, except for some quotes from one former
resident, Ralph Doherty.
Copies are found at libraries throughout the province.
Bowes: I am seeking
information on Mary A. Bowes, born 1860, and her parents James and Catherine
Bowes who lived at Golden Grove.
ROBERT V. CROWLEY
O'Donahoe - Sheehey: Cornelus
O'Donahoe and wife Nancy had sons Michael born 1844 and Timothy born Dec.
1846 in New Brunswick. Cornelius married for a second time to Catherine Sheehey
14 Feb 1847 in New Brunswick. I need information on Nancy O'Donahoe and her
2217 Tracy Ln.
Sioux Falls, SD
Smith - Brown - Gass: The
Family Bible gives the place of birth for John William Smith as St. John,
British Possession New Brunswick on 10 Oct 1821. His parents were James Henry
Smith and Julia Brown. He came to Australia about 1854 where he married Henrietta
Gass in Bendigo Victoria, Australia. He was of black descent and his father's
occupation given as ship builder.
10 Meldrum Court
Narre Warren South, Victoria
MacNichol: The MacNichol family
moved from L'Etete, New Brunswick to Eastport, Maine in 1880 and founded
the MacNichol Packing Company. I seek information of marriages and
siblings. JOHN A. MacNICHOL
2904 Broadview Dr.
McKew -McCue - Walsh - White:
James Mckew was born in 1860 in New Brunswick and married in Wisconsin in
1884 to Mathilda Walsh born also in New Brunswick (possibly the daughter
of Luke Walsh and Margaret White). The McKews are both buried in Green Bay,
Wisconsin. Does anyone have any information on the families of this couple?
599 Upper Paradise Road
Canada, L9C 5P5
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