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St. Mary's Orphanage sous-fonds
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The majority of the photographs show children performing at the annual Orphans’ Festival. They are in various costumes posing for pictures, or they are performing on stage. The orphanage dining hall is featured in several photographs. Children are seen eating while the Sisters are working in the room. These images also show what the interior of the orphanage building looked like. Images of children playing games and holidays are also included in this series. There are also several photographs of the Sisters, such as an image of Sr. Clarice Van Tassel fixing a girl’s dress. Several photographs of children receiving their communion also comprise this series.


The registers record significant information about the children who remained in the care of the orphanage. Some of the registers include those detailing day stays and children in residences. These sources provide the children’s name, admission and dismissal date, and age. There are also more detailed registers which provide information about both the boys and girls of St. Mary’s Orphanage. These books list the orphans’ name, date of birth, religious denomination, nationality, date of admission and discharge, date of death, who took them after they were discharged, and the duration of their time in care. The House of Providence Records 1893-1920 [1924] [St. Mary’s Branch House of Providence] provides the names and details of boys who were moved to a wing in the House of Providence between 1879 and 1900. There are also names of young girls listed in this register, which is the only evidence that orphan girls were also resident at the House of Providence. Another register lists information about orphans who received their religious sacraments. The Mount St. Carmel register lists information about the children who were cared for in this institution.

Regulatory Compliance

This series provide information about government regulations for orphanages in Ontario, including the 1965 Children’s Institutions Act and Regulations. These documents outline the rules surrounding the care of orphaned and fostered children. Detailed criteria had to be met. There are sections including general health and well-being, medical and dental care, nutrition, and clothing. Financial activities also had to be carried out within accordance to the law. Information about budgets, audits, and financing can also be found in these records. Annual inspections of the orphanage were done by the Department of Public Welfare. The inspection reports provide information about building safety, dietary conditions, and the physical and mental well-being of the children.

St. Mary's Orphanage sous-fonds

  • CA ON00279 HF01-SF01
  • Sous-fonds
  • 1852-2015

This sous-contains fundraising documents pertaining to rural collections and the Orphans’ Festival which show that the Sisters needed support from the surrounding community in order to operate the orphanage. Articles, tickets, programmes, and receipts from the annual Orphans’ Festival show the importance the event held, not only to the Sisters but also to Hamilton citizens. Financial records further illustrate how much money was needed to care for the orphaned children. The account books detail the necessary items Sisters purchased to successfully run the orphanage. The fee books show how much parents paid to foster their children. These records also demonstrate the needs the Sisters had on outside resources, like government grants and surrounding community funding. Documents pertaining to regulatory compliance are also found, including the 1965 Children’s Institutions Act and Regulations which outlines the rules the orphanage had to follow in order to operate within the law. Correspondence on a variety of topics is also present in the collection, including finance, education, and daily operations. There are photographs which offer a “snapshot” into the life of the orphanage. These images depict Sisters working in the orphanage, the Orphans’ Festival, children’s communion celebrations, and the dining hall. The sous-fonds also contains records created by the Advisory Committee of Mount St. Joseph Orphanage. These records outline the types of work the committee did, including structural changes to the building. There are several summaries of the history of St. Mary’s Orphanage, and a brief summary of the history of Mount St. Carmel Infants’ Home. The registers offer significant information about the children who remained in the care of the orphanage. These list information such as the orphan’s name, date of birth, religious denomination, nationality, date of admission and discharge, date of death [if applicable], and who took the child after he or she was discharged. There are also registers that list information about children who stayed for day stays, as well as children who were moved into foster homes. The sous-fonds contains information about orphans who received their religious sacraments, as well as baptismal records. Also found personal folders and admission cards, which provide information about application and departure, correspondence and parental addresses and occupations.

St. Mary's Orphanage

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