Toronto Orphanages and Day Nurseries

Matron with three orphans

Introduction

In the early half of the nineteenth century, it was common practice for orphaned or deserted children to be bound into apprenticeships. By mid-century, adoption and institutional care began to emerge as alternatives to apprenticeship.

Orphanages or children's "homes" and day nurseries provided residential care for children in need. By the 1920s, institutional care was gradually phased out and replaced by programmes of foster care, or "boarding out".

Day nurseries evolved as the pre-cursor to daycare centres. Reports and Papers from Toronto's early child care agencies reflect society's evolving attitudes towards childcare and the work ethic from the mid-1800s to the early 1900s.

Panorama of the City of Toronto, 1857. From the top of Rossin House Hotel

View Larger
Panorama of the City of Toronto, 1857. From the top of Rossin House Hotel. Source: Library and Archives Canada