The Man Behind our Name - David Lorente
Highway of Shame, Highway of Hope
by Maria Henry
Finding Home Children
Founder of Home Children Canada - 1991 to 2020
David Lorente, a pioneer in the work for Home Children in Canada, will be forever remembered and respected for his years of service to their memory. David's own father, Joseph, was a Home Boy. But like many, traumatized by their experiences, he never told his family. One day, in 1963 David drove his father to Killaloe, not knowing that was where his father was placed. His father seemed to become more agitated and upset the closer they got to their destination. Passing the train station his father said “That’s where they left…the boy….” Joseph's agitation heightened as they drove by the ghost town of Brudenell. The source of his father's pain lay hidden until 14 years after Joseph's death. At that time, David had read the Phyllis Harrison book "The Home Children: Their Personal Stories", realized that his father must have been a Home Child - and that took another 11 years to prove.
His research showed that his father Joseph had been born in Cardiff, Wales but was living in London, England when his parents separated, leaving his mother unable to adequately support her family of six. Joseph was sent to Canada, at the age of 15, to work on farms by the Roman Catholic Emigration Society's Westminster Branch. He was placed with a farmer in Killaloe, where he waited to be picked up by him at the train station for four hours. Joseph was treated badly here and left without proper sleeping accommodations. One day, after he was attacked by a farmer with pitchfork, he ran away and stayed on his own in the forest for two days. After neighbors found him, he was returned to the St. George's receiving home in Ottawa and reassigned to a new farm. Here he found a better home and a better life.
David, after speaking about the Home Children at the local heritage society in Renfrew realized that these children were stigmatized. A man in attendance recalled that as a child he was not allowed to play with Home Children. David knew he needed to do something about this. He organized a reunion for Home Children and their families, where over two hundred people showed up, both Home Children and their families. When he offered free help with finding their records, he was swamped with requests.
With the help of his lovely wife Kay, for the first time, Home Children had a voice, Home Children had support, and Home Children had somebody who cared what had happened to them. Thus in 1991 "Home Children Canada" ( HC ) was born.
From 1991, until shortly before his death in January of 2021, David worked tirelessly to promote this story and to help the people involved. He has held and attended hundreds of meetings and events and was in attendance when the then Prime Minister Gordon Brown apologized to Home Children on behalf of England.
David, a respected teacher for over 30 years, was also a wonderful husband and a beloved father of six children and many Grandchildren. We are grateful and honored that we have received his family's blessing to carry on our good work under the name of Home Children Canada. We continue his legacy of offering free help to descendants, caring for our last few surviving British Home Children ( BHC ), and ensure that the voice of David for the HC is never, ever silenced again.
Edited by Kay Lorente and her family.
Major Joseph Arthur "DAVID" Lorente
1928 - 2021
Appreciation for David
A special note from Judy Neville:
I will always consider one of the biggest accomplishments in my life was meeting Dave Lorente. Although I didn't meet him until about 10 years ago I know just how dedicated he was to everything British Home Child-related. His wife Kay was a constant as they both worked to assist others. Dave and I had communicated by phone several times, as I worked with a group of local British Home Child descendants organizing the first British Home Child Day - September 28, Ontario event in 2011.
Since the early 1990s, he had been helping anyone who asked, trace their British Home Child roots. This meant many hours spent at Library and Archives Canada pouring over ship manifests, immigration records, etc. I could never begin to calculate how many letters he sent and records he requested from various child saver organizations in the UK on behalf of others. Dave traveled around the world to speak to various groups regarding British Home Children. He and several other British Home Children and descendants traveled to Britain in 2010, to witness the apology offered by Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
The first meeting I had with Dave, in my home, in 2011 was so rewarding. He called me his kindred spirit. This was a huge accolade. I knew my work with British Home Children and their descendants would be a lifelong commitment.
I could go on but I am sure others will touch on the various things Dave initiated and accomplished.
Rest in peace Dave, your work will carry on.
BRITISH HOME CHILDREN ~ What's In A Name series
What's In A Name host Eugene Lang interviews Dave and Kay Lorente who provide an overview of 100,000 "Home Children" who were sent to Canada from 1869 until 1948. Children were also sent to Australia, New Zealand and Africa, & even Jamaica. Recorded ca 2000. Two parts.