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St. Mary's Orphanage sous-fonds
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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


This series illuminates two important orphanage-related activities performed by the Sisters: collecting funds from surrounding rural communities and the annual Orphans’ Festival. These fundraising events were important as it was expensive to house and feed the orphaned and fostered children. Thus, the Sisters asked the community for support. The series contains news clippings, programs, photographs, ledgers and record books.


Four record books make up this sub-series. These provide donation information from the surrounding communities of Haldimand County, Caledonia, Cayuga, and Hamilton. In 1854, Father Schneider of Goderich invited the Sisters to come to his mission to collect food for the orphans. From that time onward, the Sisters visited surrounding rural communities to raise monies to help fund the orphanage. These record books provide a list of individual names and businesses and the amount of their donations.

Orphans' Festival

This sub-series consists of various records dealing with the annual Orphans’ Festival. This festival began in 1853 in the Mechanics’ Hall. In later years, it moved into the Grand Opera building. The festival continued for 103 years, finishing in 1956. The orphaned and fostered children performed theatrical and musical numbers for the Hamilton community in order to help raise funds. The yearly festivals were successful, bringing in considerable amounts of money. There are two souvenir booklets from 1919 and 1920 which provide a detailed history of St. Mary’s Orphanage, as well as a list of festival sponsors. Articles about the Orphans’ Festival appear in the 1925 and 1926 issues of Catholic Magazine. These articles detail the importance of the festival. In the January 1926 issue, author F.E. Regan urged community members to attend and support the efforts of the Sisters. Addresses given at the festival also comprise this sub-series. These speeches show the spirit of the festivals and how popular and important they were both to the Sisters and to the Hamilton community. Ledgers of ticket sales provide a list of attendees, as well as how much they contributed to the event. Itinerary and sponsor information appears in the programmes. Receipts and invoices further show participating individuals and businesses, as well as their donations. Several festival advertisements and tickets also make up this sub-series. Newspaper clippings, photographs, and programmes are present in a large scrapbook.


This series provides information about the daily expenses of running St. Mary’s Orphanage. For individual fostered children, information is given about the promised rate, the amount of board money actually received, who paid for the child’s stay, as well as how long the child remained in the care of the Sisters. Receipts and disbursements show the orphanage’s total expenses for 1958 and 1959. These documents provide information about how many boys versus girls were in the Sisters’ care, as well as the ages of the children. The public welfare accounting forms give details about each individual child, including age, rate per week, admission and discharge date, and the number of days in care. Additional information can be found in the records of orphan fees books (1902-1926 and 1925-1944). These books outline payment information regarding individual orphans’ care. Applications for provincial aid, Orphan Festival financial reports, and general financial reports also make up this series. Cash statements are provided for the period covering 1935 to 1940. These detail information such as the amount of money spent on clothing and feeding the children, Orphans’ Festival expenses, and general bills. The series also shows the amount of fees received from parents, the city of Hamilton, the Orphans’ Festival, and provincial government grants. The 1957 to 1965 journal lists items from the orphanage’s accounts payable and receivable. Items include bread, cereals, coal, water, and grant money. There are also receipt books that cover the years 1930 to 1943. These books give an in-depth look at what the Sisters were purchasing to run the orphanage.

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