St. Vincent’s Orphanage, Peterborough

 In the latter 1800s, there were many challenges in the lives of families. Often the death of parents left children without care givers. Even the early death of one parent could result in the children being taken to the orphanage. The surviving parent could not work all day and also be available to care for the little ones.

In the early 1890s, orphaned children of Catholic families in the Peterborough area, were cared for at St. Joseph’s Hospital. In 1891, three children had their home at St. Joseph’s hospital. These included two little brothers, Thomas and Arthur Germain. Thomas was 11 years old, his brother was 9 years. The other child living at the hospital was Leo Connelly, aged two years.

St. Joseph's Hospital

St. Joseph’s Hospital, Peterborough, Opened August 20, 1889

In the later years of the same decade, children lived and were cared for at the House of Providence, a home for the elderly. In time, the number of children in need of care steadily increased.

House of Providence Built

In 1899, Bishop R. A. O’Connor decided to build the House of Providence. It would be a home where elderly people could reside. Here they would receive support and light medical care as needed. The home opened on 27 July 1900.

In the first decade that the home operated, children, in need of care, also resided at this home. In 1901 eighteen children were living at the House of Providence.



Year Born

Mary McGrath71893
Irene McGrath41896
Loretta Byrne61894
Frances Byrne (male)81892
Frances Kervin (male)51895
James Kervin71893
Will Heenen71893
C. McGuire61894
Bridget Leahey121888
Alice Mahan61894
Johanna Mahan31897
Mary Michaud51895
Joseph McKenzie121888
William Ghibbs101890
Susan Ghibbs51895
Mary Gibbs91891
John Gibbs81892
James Gibbs61894

Home Purchased for Orphanage

In 1909, the Bradburn Estate on London Street, was acquired by the Sisters of St. Joseph. It was purchased, for use as an orphanage, due to the increasing numbers of children without families to look after them. At the home, care was provided for children between 2 and 16 years of age.

When the newly acquired house opened, a short item appeared in one of the local newspapers. The Peterborough Examiner, of 5 November 1909, applauded the renovations made to the house. It was now well adapted for the purpose of giving care to children.

New Orphanage Opens in Peterborough

Home Yet Unnamed

The home opened in November 1909, though it had not yet been given a name. Soon it was called St. Vincent’s Orphanage. For the next forty-seven years, the Sisters of St. Joseph cared for orphaned children in this home. At times in the 1930s and 1940s, there were as many as forty children living in the orphanage.

St. Vincent's Orphanage

By 1911 there were more children residing at St. Vincent’s. It was now home to thirty-five young people.

Children At St. Vincent’s Home 1911
NameAgeYear Born
Mildred Lennox161895
Corthan Grant Lennox131898
John Milton Lennox121899
Kenneth Butter71904
John DeRonesil81903
James DeRonesil51906
Jennie Murphy111900
John Murphy81903
Mary Murphy61905
Josephine Desayeux101901
Elizabeth Desayeux91901
James Desayeux51906
Augusta Canelier71904
Edna Quigley101901
Lawrence Quigley71904
Margaret McGregor111900
Donald McGregor91902
Douglas McGregor81903
Gorgon McGregor71904
Wilma McGregor41907
Maggie O’Brien121899
Daniel O’Brien111900
William O’Brien101901
Mary O’Brien91902
Julia O’Brien81903
Ella O’Brien71904
Frederick Fallon81903
Thomas Fallon41907
Catherine Casey131898
Mary Halpin161895
Adelain Guerin111901
Evelyn Guerin91902
Annie Lansey161895
Irina Cornish131892
Lizzie Rice111900

Loss of a Parent Brings Children Into Care

Three children from a Lennox family were living in the home in 1911. They were the children of John S. Lennox and his wife, Fannie C. Hudgins. The family resided in Dummer Township until John’s death on 22 March 1901.

The McGregor children were another family group in care at the orphanage. They were members of the family of William McGregor and his wife, Margaret Murphy. William and Margaret had married in 1897. He had employment as a barber and the family lived in the village of Ashburnham. The  death of William was a great loss to the family. He died on 26 March 1907.

The O’Brien children were also living in the orphanage. They were the children of William Henry O’Brien and Margaret Ann Scott who had married 28 November 1896. William and Margaret’s wedding took place in Chandos Township, Peterborough County. Margaret O’Brien died on 10 March 1910. By 1911, all but the youngest of the children were residing at the orphanage.

Increasing Numbers of Children In Care

As another decade passed, other children came to live at St. Vincent’s. As many as forty-five children lived at the home during the first years of the 1920s.

Children at St. Vincent Orphanage 1921
NameAgeYear Born
Kathleen Allen101911
Albert Allen81913
Kathleen Beales121909
Cornil Bernice141907
Herman Bernice111910
Trasie Bernice101911
Gilbert Bernice81913
Mabel Barbeau71914
Francis Barbeau51916
Francis Blair81913
John Carr21919
James Clancy91912
Andrew Crebar71914
Annie Crebar51916
Eva Crebar21919
Laurence Guerin101911
Ethel Guerin91912
Francis Guerin51916
Beatrice Guerin41917
Willie Gabriel111910
Stephane Gabriel (female)91912
Mary Gabriel81913
Michael Gabriel61915
Rosie Gabriel51916
Agnes Hanrahan101911
Alphonse Hanrahan81913
Leo Hanrahan61915
Joseph Lavalley91912
Arnold Lavalley71914
Joseph Lavaen41917
Lionel Mayer91912
Rita Mayer61915
Gerald Nolan21919
Rosie Ladesney61915
Lawrence Lalonde81913
Florence Lalonde61915
Clifford Leonard21919
Irene Reverie71914
Francis Reverie61915
Stanley Sullivan71914
Annie M. Sullivan51916
Elsie Sullivan41917
Madeline Fagan71914
Kathleen Fagan71914
Ruth Fagan51916

Re-discovering the Families of Orphaned Children

The Allen children, Kathleen and Albert lived at St. Vincent’s in 1921. They were the son and daughter of James Allen and Mary Amelia Clark. Amelia died at St. Joseph’s Hospital on 2 October 1918.

Francis Barbeau, was the son of Annie Guerin and Archibald Barbeau. Annie and Archibald lived at 85 Gladstone Ave., in the city. Annie had died at St. Joseph’s Hospital on 29 April 1919.

William Francis Blair, was born in 30 September 1912. He was a son of John Edward Blair and his wife Agnes Huard. Agnes was first married to John Fallon. After his death she married John Edward Blair in November 1912. Agnes (Huard) Blair died at St. Joseph’s Hospital on 22 October 1916.

The Crebar children were of the family of Vincengina Infuso and Vincent James Crebar. Vincengina, born in Italy, had died of pneumonia, at St. Joseph’s Hospital on 12 December 1919.

The Hanrahan children, Agnes, Alphonse and Leo, are part of the family of Michael Joseph Hanrahan and Emily Elizabeth Bowell. These three are the youngest of a family of seven children. It appears that Emily may have died and Michael needed help caring for the little ones.

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