Marjorie War Years Front Cover

Marjorie: Too Afraid to Cry centred on the recreation of Marjorie’s lost early life in her town of birth – Whitley Bay in northern England and her journey to Canada as a 10-year-old-girl and her return to London to be present for the former British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown’s February 2010 Apology to all British Child Migrants. Marjorie struggles with settling into her new ‘life’ and after 11 months at the farm school things brighten a little when she is reunited with her younger sister.

The next project is a sequel to Marjorie Too Afraid To Cry and it is called: Marjorie: Her War Years. 1939 – 1942. A Home Child in British Columbia.
This book gives an account of the day-to-day life during Marjorie’s five years at the Prince of Wales Fairbridge Farm School. It was not an easy time for Marjorie. She battled daily with the loss of her family and had a difficult time settling into her ‘new life’ in the colonies. This book ends in December 1942, shortly after Marjorie turned 16 – when she was placed out to work in a series of homes in Victoria BC, as a domestic servant. It documents Marjorie’s struggle to find peace with the betrayal and rejection she feels from her mother and her country.

Front Cover Top: The girls of Pennant Cottage. Marjorie is 5th from the right, or the first girl sitting on the slanted section of the railing of the porch. She is sitting beside one of her favourite cottage mothers, Mrs. Willis. This cottage mother was caring and compassionate, and was able to help right some of the wrongs from the years of abuse that Marjorie faced from her earlier cottage mothers. Her kindness allowed Marjorie to build self-confidence and trust in herself and in others, especially as she headed out into Canadian ‘life’ on her own. (Courtesy of the Fairbridge Fonds, housed at the University of Liverpool Archives, Special Collections Branch, D296.E1.)

Front Cover Bottom: Fairbridge children heading back to their cottages from the fields. Many of the Prince of Wales Fairbridge Farm School photos were ‘staged’ for publicity purposes and to be used in the Fairbridge Farm School Annual Reports and fund raising advertisements. (From the Fairbridge Farm School Inc. Annual Report Thirty-first Year, 1940. Page 8.)

Marjorie War Years Cover photos

Click here for a PDF file of the Isobel Harvey Report 1944
The Province of British Columbia’s Superintendent of Child Welfare, Isobel Harvey, visited the Prince of Wales Fairbridge Farm School in August 1944. Her report was not favourable of the conditions she found the children living in. “A Child Welfare worker viewing Fairbridge is left with a feeling of helplessness. The basic idea, antagonistic to every concept of Canadian Child Welfare, that these children are poor English children and, therefore, different from the ordinary child, is rooted so firmly in practically every staff member’s mind that there is no use arguing against it. I was told over and over again by the Principal that I was incapable of understanding these children because they were English children. Anything they do, any trait they develop, is laid to the class from which they come. In fact, Fairbridge seems to be class conscious to an astonishing degree – even the Canadian cottage mothers get the same idea. One fifteen-year old girl who has very superior intelligence was placed in the trainee course for domestic work, thereby having to give up half her academic work, the only thing she cares about. She has become utterly unmanageable but, if you mention her, each person from the Principal down, tells the story of how this youngster said in rebellion, “My mother raised me in the gutter, and I’ll go back to the gutter.” That statement to them made it clear that it was not the school discipline but the child and the class from which she came that was at fault. Mr. Logan himself apparently believes in an aristocracy or the intelligentsia, for he told Miss McKay that in spite of her idealistic outlook she would have to come down to his belief that 5% of the world would always rule the other 95%. Miss McKay said anyway it would not be the same 5%. Canadian ideals of democracy are not being taught here. In fact, nothing that is Canadian is taught and the children make very derogatory remarks about Canadians. But, as one staff member remarked, their only experience of Canadians had been a series of poor cottage mothers.”

A cover of a Fairbridge Society Annual Report. Circa late 1940s

A cover of a Fairbridge Society Annual Report. Circa late 1940s