Truth mirroring fiction
It seems I was destined to research Child Migrants one way or another! Last week I chatted to my mother-in-law about her father as I've been tracing the family tree as research for my next book. I couldn't find anything about her Father, so I queried her.
'He came out from England when both his parents died. He was one of those child migrants,' she said.
What did she say? My heart thumped. I must have heard incorrectly.
'He was sent to Western Australia to a farm school.'
Oh no, I thought. I've researched those for my first novel, Orphan of the King and the stories are horrific.
'It wasn't Fairbridge Farm School was it?' I tentatively asked holding my breath and hoping I was wrong.
'Yes, yes I think it was.' Sylvia replied.
'Oh Sylvia, I didn't know this. You know I've just finished writing about them don't you?'
She said yes she knew, but she didn't know anything much because her Dad didn't want to talk abut it, and with her voice breaking she said she didn't want to think about what kind of life he'd had either. She was proud he'd made something of himself after his challenging childhood. Then she threw out the gut punch:
'I think he had a brother who was sent to Canada too.'
Oh my gosh.
Yes there were many child migrants sent to Canada too. In Canada they were called Home Children, and their lives there were not much different from the children's who ended up in Australia.
So, in short, I am now going to try to find and trace my husband's family who were part of the British Child Migration Scheme!
Go figure. Isn't coincidence a strange thing?
My husband's Grandfather, Peter Owen, has since passed away so it's going to be challenging. But there is an aunt I'm about to make a date with who will hopefully have some information to kick start my research. I'm aiming to find out more about Peter's admission to Fairbridge Farm School, and any records they may have for him. I'm crossing fingers his personal details were not altered as they were for so many of the child migrants. If he did have a brother, how wonderful would it be to trace him to Canada and perhaps get in contact with his family? To say I was stunned discovering this information after I've completed my first novel on this very topic, is a complete understatement. Even though Peter was not a blood relative of mine, and I never even met him, I feel as though I have a deep connection to him and some understanding of his life. If he did have a brother, I feel I owe it to him to try and find him. They say truth is stranger than fiction...well mine bizarrely, just mirrored it.
I wonder what I'll find? Wish me luck. Cat x