661 Huron Street in Toronto to declared a historical building and be preserved

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  • 661 Huron Street, Toronto – former Receiving Home of the Church of England, Waifs and Strays – known as the Elizabeth Rye House

From the late 1860's, right up to 1948, over 100,000 children of all ages were emigrated right across Canada, from the United Kingdom, to be used as indentured farm workers and domestics. Believed by Canadians to be orphans, only approximately 12 percent truly were. These children were sent to Canada by over 50 organizations including the well-known and still working charities: Barnardo’s and Quarrier’s. The vast majority of these new Canadians were filtered through receiving homes located in Toronto, of which 661 Huron Street played an important role in this process. It is an historically significant building representing an important period in Canada’s early development as a nation.

From 1923 to 1932 it was the home used to receive hundreds of little girls sent from the UK by the Church of England, Waifs and Strays. The children were dispersed for service mostly throughout homes in Toronto and surrounding areas. When their terms of indenture were up (generally from eighteen to twenty-one-years old) many girls from this home made their lives in Toronto. They,  and their descendants contributed vastly to the population of this city today. In Canada there are an estimated three-million descendants of British Home Children with the majority being in Toronto. Most notably is the family of Premier Doug Ford (did not come through Huron Street). Our precious history of these children is slowly being eroded away. Two other receiving homes in Toronto have been preserved, 295 George Street and the former 50-52 Peter Street. The front façade of Peter Street ( now Blue Jay Way) has been preserved and is now part of a the luxury high-rise Bisha hotel/condo building.

661 Huron Street stands as a monument to the three-million descendants in Canada of the British Home Children. To have this historic home destroyed by the wrecker’s ball, is akin to destroying a part of Canadian history, of which too much has been lost already.  On behalf of the undersigned, we ask the the heritage value of this home and it's contribution to our nation be considered and the property saved.

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