After the death of their mother in a 19th century London slum, the Denton children are separated.
The younger two are adopted by their uncle, who takes the older brother and sister to Annie Macpherson’s House of Industry in Spitalfields.
Tom and Annie travel to Canada with one of the first parties of immigrant children destined to work on the farms of the new Dominion.
From Ragged London to the Garden of Eden, by Jean Jardine Miller, tells the story of the two children as they grow to adulthood in southern Ontario.
Annie is taken in by a storekeeper in Limehouse, then a bustling little industrial community, and overcomes the stigma of being a ‘Home Child’ among the Scots and Scots/Irish who have settled there to become a popular member of the community.
Tom finds foster parents in Eden Mills who support him in his desire to follow in his dead father’s footprints and become a school master.
Working on their farm, while progressing through public school and normal school, he gains a deep respect for the need to incorporate agriculture into the education system and, as a teacher in his old high school in Guelph, is invited to work with the Ontario Agricultural College in bringing this about.
Meticulous research into the living conditions in both London’s east end and in Toronto, Guelph and Ontario towns and townships in Halton and Wellington counties, and the immigrants’ journey, provides a very authentic feel to this story.
It takes readers back to a time when resourceful people began to change a patriarchal society dominated by wealth and privilege.
These are the days of such inventions as the telephone, the bicycle and the dry plate camera, of the fight for education and careers for women and of the increasing impact of working class immigrants on the development of the professions.
The book can be purchased at http://www.designandcopy.ca/jardinemiller/index.html.