The Use of Apprenticeship and Adoption by the Toronto Protestant Orphans' Home, 1853-1869

  • Charlotte Neff


While the Toronto Protestant Orphans’ Home, like other children’s homes of midto late-nineteenth-century Ontario, was established to make available long-term institutional care for dependent children, it also relied heavily on home placements. It made extensive use of both apprenticeship (binding out), which was a legally recognized and protected relationship, and adoption, which was not. The decisions of the Home’s female Managers were thus not driven by a rigid vision of the merits of institutional care or of what childhood should be like for their charges; rather, they dealt with each case individually, an approach that may be partially attributed to the maternal influence but also to pragmatic concerns. Home placement was an important feature of such care well before the implementation of the foster care system in 1893.