Annie Macpherson

Annie Macpherson was born in Scotland and educated at the Home and Colonial Training College in Gray’s Inn Road, London. It was there she became aware of the terrible conditions for poor children in the East End of the city. By 1869, Miss Macpherson opened the Home of Industry in London to house and to educate children she found living on the streets. In Canada she opened three homes for the distribution and care of children. The first group of 100 boys under Annie Macpherson’s care to be transported to Canada set sail on May 12, 1870.

51 Avon, Stratford, ON
Cambridge home

In 1872, two additional homes were added in Cambridge, Ontario and Knowlton, P.Q. Miss Macpherson brought children from her Home of Industry, while other children came from the London workhouses.

Girls arriving at Stratford station about 1908

The Cambridge home was used by Miss Macpherson until 1883. At that time she moved her work to 51 Avon Street in Stratford, Ontario. Miss Macpherson was present at the formal opening of the “Annie Macpherson Home” on October 18, 1883.

Rachel Merry, sister of Miss Macpherson, who was assisted by her husband, Joseph Merry, managed the establishment during Miss Macpherson’s absence in England. 

Soon, their son, William Merry, and his wife took over the management of the Home. Although the Home went under a number of different names over the years, “Miss Macpherson’s Boys’ Home – for the distribution and care of English children emigrated through Miss Macpherson,” or “The Annie Macpherson Home of Industry”. It was known locally simply as the “Merry House”.

Boys arriving at Stratford station about 1908

Children were escorted from England to the Stratford home for over thirty years. The First World War made it dangerous for children sailing overseas and the last Home Children to live at 51 Avon Street arrived around 1916.

The Stratford home was used until 1919. It is estimated that 8,100 of the approximately 100,000 children who were sent to Canada spent time there.

Article – Stratford Evening Herald – October 24, 1883

The Stratford Evening Herald – October 24, 1883

Miss MacPhersons OrphansHome

On Thursday evening last (October 18, 1883) Miss MacPherson’s Orphans’ Home in Stratford was formally opened. A goodly number of friends (considering the weather was wet) arrived between 6 and 7 o’clock and after taking in a dainty repast, were shown in small parties over the house by Mrs. Merry (sister of Miss MacPherson), the happy and pleasant superintendent, who ably assisted by her husband (JOSEPH MERRY), conducts the establishment during Miss MacPherson’s absence in the old country.

Proceeding up the winding staircase The Herald reporter, accompanied by a few others was at once taken to the boy’s dormitory, on the top flat, in which can be seen rows of miniature wooden bedsteads, and beds, covered with pretty red counterpanes, on each of which, nicely printed and sewn, are five texts of Scripture, a large one in the middle a smaller one in each corner.

The little folks generally sleep separate, although there is room for two in each little cot. The walls of this room are beautifully papered and hung with mottoes, doubtless

the work of some loving friend in England. The workers’ rooms are on the same floor in case any of the children should be taken sick in the night.

Descending we were shown Miss MacPherson’s rooms, which contains many mementoes and keepsakes from those who have benefited by her labour amongst them. Next we visited Mr. and Mrs. Merry’s room, which is also adorned with many pretty things. The girls’ dormitory is on this floor, and is similar to that of the boys only smaller and containing more knick-knacks.

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