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Isobel (or Isabella)

February 28, 2012

Margaret Gaunt sends these adorable photos and the small amount of information she has about a little girl named Isobel. The people who knew her last name have passed on. But these photos of a smiling apple-cheeked English girl remained in the family. Isobel represents thousands of British Home Children who left a small, almost undetectable footprint in Canada. This story is dedicated to them. – Rose McCormick Brandon

Isabel on far right

Although I don’t have a home child story to tell of someone in my family, my grandparents apparently had a home child living with them, on their farm in Vandeleur, Ontario, for a short period in 1927. I’m not sure for how long. The only reason I know this is from a few old photos dated 1927 She appears with family members in this photo. When I asked my father who she was, he said that his mother told him her name was Isobel and that she was a home child who came from England to help her with the children. Because he was very young at the time and he has no memories of Isobel himself. He is sure that she wasn’t with the family for long. My grandparents lost their farm during the crash of 1929 which likely had something to do with that.

I would guess her age to be maybe around 11 from the pictures. She looks happy in these photos and seemed to fit in as

Isobel on left with McLean children

Isobel (centre)

Isobel does look happy in these photos. Although I never knew my grandmother I’ve heard that she was a very sweet lady so am sure that Isobel would have been treated well by her. My grandmother was an English war bride who came to Canada with my grandfather when he returned from WWI in 1919. She had been orphaned herself at a young age but was fortunate enough to have been raised by an aunt in London. I certainly hope that wherever Isobel went after she left them that she was treated okay and remained as happy as she appears in these photos.

I often wonder what happened to Isobel after she left my grandparents. Some of the stories I’ve read about home children are so sad, it’s heartbreaking to read them.I’ve searched Archives Canada lists with names of children who came over around that time with the first name of Isobel. The closest match I’ve found is Isobel Osborne, but it gives her age as 13 in 1926 ….. which would have made her 14 in 1927 when these photos were taken. The girl in these photos just doesn’t look that old but I could be wrong.Margaret explains why Isobel found a place in her heart . . .I have a soft spot in my heart for Isobel, partly due to my own story.

My birth parents were only kids when I was born so I was given up for adoption (1943).   As an adult I tried searching but adoption records were so tightly sealed that it was impossible to find out anything. I gave up for a long time but then by the mid 1980’s it was a bit more possible so I started searching again. In 1987 I found out who my birth mother was ….. unfortunately she had passed away five years prior. I did locate her husband though who gave me some family background information and photos of my birth mother. He didn’t know the name of my birth father but I kept searching and in 1990 I was able to locate him. We have developed a good relationship since then. It was my birth father’s parents that Isobel stayed with.

Note from Rose: It’s possible that this little girl is Isabella Gordon who immigrated in 1926 at age 9

Next story: Charles Holloway: Man of Mystery by Ruth Ann Adams

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. Gail Collins permalink
    February 28, 2012 7:46 pm

    Magaret Gaunt

    http://www.quarriers.org.uk/resource/trace-your-history

    I wonder if Quarriers would confirm this Isobel Gordon – although not direct family you would like to return photo’s taken of her to her family from one of her placements – your gdarents (name) farm in Vandeleur, Ontario, for a short period in 1927. If it were me I’d be excited to receive these photo’s!

  2. Margaret Gaunt permalink
    February 29, 2012 4:12 am

    Thank you Gail for your comment and I will check out the link. Does Quarriers have records of where all these children went to after coming to Canada? Hopefully Isobella Gordon is the right person that with my grandparents. If so, and there was any way to contact a family member, it would be great to give them copies of these photos.

    • February 29, 2012 2:17 pm

      I checked the Quarrier’s site and they sound eager to help people trace their Scottish home children relatives. I’ve added the Quarrier link to my site – you can access it at the home page.

  3. Margaret Gaunt permalink
    March 3, 2012 5:21 am

    Thanks Rose, I did contact Quarruier’s through the link and they emailed me back with the email address for their Genealogy Officer whose name is Josie so I can contact her direcectly which I will do. It would be very exciting if a family member can be contacted to get these photos of Isobella. I will let you know what happens. Thanks again for all your help. Margaret

  4. March 3, 2012 4:04 pm

    If you do make contact with the family or find out more info about Isabella Gordon, you can do a follow-up story . . . would be so exciting to put a for-sure name on this little girl.

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