Maternity Homes in Canada

Visit 450 Pape Ave at Harris History

“A report by the Canadian Welfare Council of 1957 estimated there were about thirty such homes across Canada. By the end of the 1960’s there were roughly fifty homes” – “Gone to an Aunts”, Anne Petrie

During the 1800’s compassionate Victorian ladies were disturbed by the plight of unmarried mothers who had no resources and created shelters for expectant and nursing mothers.  Mother and baby were not separated, and in fact, in Minnesota there was a Breast Feeding Statute that stated a mother had to breast feed for at least three months (Minnesota Three Month Nursing Regulation), which was devised to keep mother and child together and to promote bonding. The mother in this scenario however, was a “Fallen Women” and her baby labelled “illegitimate” or a “bastard”. The stigma attached to these labels was heavy indeed.

After World War II with the rise of the professions of Social Work and Psychiatry,  society decided that unmarried mothers could be rehabilitated or “made marriageable” again after being pregnant and giving birth. These same Maternity Homes and policies that were devised to help mothers and children stay together now became the means to separate them as adoption became the vehicle by which a mother could “be redeemed”, “rehabilitated” and returned to society to fulfill her proper role as wife and mother at a later time.

Many of these homes were run by religious organizations in conjunction with the provinces. The Salvation Army and the Misericordia Sisters were the most prominent, but most Christian denominations had their own facility for the “unwed mother” as the list below will show.

In her article “Not By Choice” Karen Wilson Buterbaugh shows how thought reform was alive and well in the Maternity Homes of that period.

Keep a Person Unaware

Girls were not instructed about pregnancy, labor, delivery; were left totally alone during labor and delivery; were not allowed contact with new mothers; not provided information about welfare and Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), child support and other government programs.

Control their environment and time.

Girls forced to live in maternity “homes”; made to use fictitious names or first names and last initials only; allowed no contact with friends and boy-friends by letter, phone or in person; kept away from everything familiar; made to follow strict daily routines.

Create a sense of powerlessness.

Took away our money (pay phones only); no personal (familiar) clothing; not allowed freedom to come and go; removed everything that would remind us of who we were.

Rewards and punishments to inhibit behaviour reflecting former identity.

Called “neurotic” if we said no to “relinquishing”; told we were “out of touch with reality” and “selfish” if we kept our babies; told our pregnancy was “proof of unfitness.”

Rewards and punishments promoting group’s beliefs or behaviors.

Allowed no television, phone, visitation or radio privileges if not following rules; scolding and demeaning lectures for disagreeing; harangued when speaking up against “counseling” (reasons why we should “choose” adoption); praised for agreeing to surrender.

Use logic and authority which permits no feedback.

Director, caseworkers and housemothers enforced strict rules and rigid schedule: wakeup, bedtime, meals, chores and approved visitation; censored mail (both incoming and outgoing); no legal counsel; no support system.

It seems clear that all of the thought reform conditions were present during the many months we were forced to hide away in maternity homes.

Rickie Solinger, in her book  Wake Up Little Susie: Single Pregnancy and Race Before Roe v. Wade (1992), gives us a sense of the maternity home environment:

“The world of maternity homes in postwar America was a gothic attic obscured from the community by the closed curtains of gentility and high spiked fences. The girls and women sent inside were dreamwalkers serving time, pregnant dreamwalkers taking the cure. Part criminal, part patient, the unwed mother arrived on the doorstep with her valise and, moving inside, found herself enclosed within an idea…

Maternity homes… served to further stigmatize pregnant young women by removing them from their families, friends and neighbors… these “homes” could create an austere and frightening atmosphere for the mother, whose freedom of movement was strictly curtailed by these instant chaperones and guardians. Typically, mothers were expected to help out in these homes with chores such as cleaning, dishwashing, and so on… while the mother’s physical needs were met, seldom were her emotional needs addressed…”

Most of these homes are now closed or have changed to Parenting Teen Centres and thankfully so, but the history of the”Home for Unwed Mother” is not over as the mothers that resided there from after World War II to well into the 1980′s are now giving voice to their stories and experiences during their incarceration there, stories they want preserved for hisotry and their children.

 If you have any further information that will help us with the accuracy of this list please contact  admin@originscanada.org

Please note that the majority of these homes are now closed.

The address shown reflects the last known address of the home.

THE SALVATION ARMY

NEWFOUNDLAND

The Anchorage
26 Cook St.
St. John’s, Newfoundland

Glenbrook Lodge
18 Wood Street
St. John’s Newfoundland

NOVA SCOTIA

Grace Haven/called Parkdale House after 1975
47 Byng Avenue
Sydney, Nova Scotia

Bethany Home
6080 Young St. also 980 Tower Road
Halifax, Nova Scotia

NEW BRUNSWICK

Evangeline Home “Rathbone House”
260 Princess St.
Saint John, N.B.

QUEBEC

Grace Haven
6690 Monkland Ave.
Montreal, PQ

ONTARIO

Grace Haven          Accom: 22
245 James St. S.
after 1973 moved to
138 Herkimer St.
Hamilton,Ontario

Bethany Home                          Accom:  30
450 Pape Avenue
Toronto, Ontario
(Births from this home took place at Grace Hospital, Toronto)

Bethany Home                            Accom:  29
1140 Wellington St.
Ottawa, Ontario

Bethesda Home & Hospital      Accom:  12
54 Riverview Avenue
London, Ontario
Still operating as Centre for Parenting Teens

Faith Haven
Windsor, Ontario

Grace Haven/Lakehead Florence Booth Home       Accom:  10
497 N. Lillie St.
Thunder Bay, Ontario

Florence Booth Home
Fort William, Ontario

MANITOBA

Grace Haven
Box 2907
Steinbach, Manitoba

Bethany Home
205 Arlington St.  1956-1974
Winnipeg, Manitoba
Changed to Lindenview Place  1974-1993
205 Booth Drive,
Winnipeg, Manitoba

SASKATCHEWAN

Grace Haven
2929 26th Avenue
Regina, Saskatchewan
alternate address also found: 2301-15th Avenue, Regina

Bethany Home & Hospital
802 Queen St.
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

ALBERTA

Hill Haven/Parkwood House
1340 8th Avenue N.W.
Calgary, Alberta

VANCOUVER

Maywood Home
7250 Oak St.
Vancouver, B.C.

Note: The Salvation Army ran a number of Homes and Hospitals across Canada

Please note that any “Grace” or “Booth” Hospital would also be Salvation Army

ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH

We have tried to compile a complete list of homes.
Please contact us if you know of any other names of Catholic homes.

PEI

Catholic Family Services
69 Pownal Street
Charlottetown, P.E.I.
(Catholic Family Services on first floor and “unwed mothers” were housed on top floor

NOVA SCOTIA

Catholic Home of the Guardian Angel
Halifax, Nova Scotia

The Little Flower Institute
Little Bras d’Or

QUEBEC

Centre Rosalie-Jette (Sisters of Misericordia) 1955-1969
1801 Boulevard Goin East
Montreal, Quebec (Sault-au-Recollet)

Villa St.-Michel (Sisters of Misericordia) 1957-1971
7400 Boulevard Saint-Michel
Montreal, PQ

Foyer Joly (Sisters of Misericordia) 1958-1970
105 Joly St.
Trois Riverieres West, PQ
Known as Villa Joly 1970-1976

Foyer Sainte-Dorothee (Sister of Misericordia) 1957-1968
Laval, PQ

Carrefour Bethesda (Sisters of Misericordia 1980-1985
355 rue Laviolette
Gatineau, PQ

Villa Marie-Claire (Sisters of Misericordia) 1967-1974
225, rue Belvedere nord
Sherbrooke, PQ

Pavillon Jette: Foyer Marie-Lucie et Foyer Marguerite (Sisters of Misericordia) 1948-1971
850, Boulevard Dorchester
Montreal, PQ

Misericorde
St. Hubert & Rene Levesque Blvd
Montreal, PQ

ONTARIO

St. Mary’s Infants Home (Sisters of Misericordia) 1920-1956
550 Jarvis St., Toronto (closed and moved to Scarborough Rosalie Hall)

Rosalie Hall (Sisters of Misericorde) 1956- Present    Accom:  30
3020 Lawrence Avenue East
Scarborough, Ontario
Still operating as Centre for Parenting Teens

Sundale Manor1960-1976/Mercy Shelter 1953-1960     Accom:  18   (Sisters of Misericordia)
140 Park Avenue East
Chatham, Ontario

St. Mary’s Home (Sisters of Providence)      Accom:  32 (Cadboro)
Daly Avenue 1933-1972
Ottawa, Ontario then moved to:
Cadboro Road in Gloucester 1972-1987 then moved to:
659 Church St., Ottawa, Ontario and taken over byLes Filles de La Sagesse d’Ontario

Rideau Terrace (in Rockcliffe)
Ottawa, Ontario

St. Martin`s Manor
Catholic Home for Girls
Mohawk Rd. West
Hamilton, Ontario

Misercordia Hospital Home (Sisters of Misercordia) 1959-1971
Georgina Avenue, Haileybury (urgencies only)

St. Monica House        Accom:  27
231 Herbert St.
Kitchener/Waterloo, Ontario

Centre Maria
Hawkesbury, Ontario

MANITOBA

Villa Rosa (Sisters of Misericorde) 1965-1993
784 Wolseley Avenue
Winnipeg, Manitoba (formerly Rosalie Hall on Sherbrooke)

(Have archival records going back to 1898 and can conduct searches upon written request subject to privacy legislation)

SASKATCHEWAN

Martha House est 1936
1855 2nd Avenue North
Regina Saskatchewan S4R 1Y1 (now home for retired priests)

(Founded by the Sisters of St. Martha in the old Mercy Hospital at the corner of Victoria Ave and Smith St. Home relocated several times Sisters of St. Joseph carried on the services from 1984 until June 1994.)

ALBERTA

The Providence Creche
Calgary, Alberta

The Pineview Home for Unmarried Mothers (Sisters of Misericordia) 1963-1969
9830, 165th Street
Jasper Place, West Edmonton, Alberta

BRITISH COLUMBIA

Our Lady of Mercy
Vancouver, B.C.

ANGLICAN CHURCH OF CANADA

ONTARIO

Humewood House        Accom:  36
40 Humewood Drive
Toronto, Ontario
Still operating as Centre for Parenting Teens

St Monica’s Home
30 Sycamore Place
Kitchener, Ontario

QUEBEC

Elizabeth House (Co-sponsored with Presbyterian & United Church) 1968-Present
1973 transferred from church community to Minstry of Social Affairs
2131 Marlowe Avenue
Montreal, PQ

MANITOBA
Church Home For Girls (Co-sponsored with United Church)
2594 Henderson Hwy
Winnipeg, Manitoba

ALBERTA

St. John’s
Edmonton, Alberta

B.C.

Marion Hillard House
Serle Road, RR#1
Kamloops, B.C.

UNITED CHURCH OF CANADA

Victor Home for Women/Massey Centre  1900-Present    Accom:  27 
Door of Hope 1901
Victor Home for Women 1904
341 Jarvis St.
Toronto, Ontario
Moved in 1947 to
1102 Broadview Avenue
Toronto, Ontario
(Many mothers from this home delivered at Burnside Hospital or Mayfair Hospital. These records have not survived)
Renamed Massey Centre in 1989.  Still operating at 1102 Broadview assisting Parenting Teens

Elizabeth House, Montreal, (co-sponsored with Anglican Church as above)  1968 – Present
1973 transferred from church community to Minstry of Social Affairs
2131 Marlowe Avenue
Montreal, PQ

Church Home for Girls , Winnipeg (Kildonan)  1911-1974 (co-sponsored with Anglican Church as above)
2594 Henderson Highway
Winnipeg, Manitoba
new home constructed in 1962 - inmates 1962  – 42
also associated with:
McMillan House Project  (1972-1976)
824 McMillan Avenue
Winnipeg, Manitoba

United Church Home for Girls (1913 – 1973) (co-sponsored, Presbyterian, Anglican, Baptist)
1750 Sussex Avenue (1923-1967)
7401 Sussex Avenue (1967-1973)
also known as
Burnaby Home for Girls
7401 Sussex Avenue
South Burnaby, British Columbia

Cedarvale Home for Unwed Mothers (Previously Ontario Home for Girls)
Georgetown, Ontario

EVANGELICAL

Bethel Home             Accom:  27     (sponsored by the Pentecostal Benevolent Assoc of Ontario)
115 Bonis Avenue/3762 Sheppard Ave East/Kennedy Road, Scarborough
Agincourt, Ontario
Built in 1926, new facility late 1950′s

Friendly Home
5867 Cote St. Antoine Rd.
Montreal, PQ

Beulah Home
134th and 101st
Edmonton, Alberta
In operation during the 1950s

Jewels for Jesus Mission
2110 Argentia Road
Mississauga, Ontario

PRESBYTERIAN

Armagh Home                           Accom: 22
927 Meadow Wood Road
Clarksville, Ontario

Elizabeth House (co-sponsored with Anglican Church as above)

ECUMENICAL

Northern Ecumenical Maternity Homes
P.O. Box 955
Sudbury, Ontario

PRIVATE

Molly Breens Boarding House
18 Wood St.
St. John’s, Newfoundland

Ideal Maternity Home
East Chester, Nova Scotia

The Strathcona
32 Gothic Avenue
Toronto, Ontario

Copyright Valerie Andrews 2009