Home Children Canada Hazelbrae Barnardo Home Index 1883 to 1923
This index is inspired by the beautiful Barnardo Home Monument upon which is engrave the names of most of the over 9,000 children who were received there. The home opened to both boys and girls in 1884. In 1887 it became an exclusive girls home when a boys home opened in Toronto.
Through the efforts of Ivy Succee and John Sayers this beautiful monument was erected at 180 Barnardo Avenue in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada in 2011.
To learn more about this monument and for photos of the panels visit our website at: https://canadianbritishhomechildren.weebly.com
History of the Hazelbrae Receiving Home
by Lori Oschefski
Throughout the years it was in operation, Dr. Barnardo’s first receiving home in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada bore three names - originally name “Hazelbrae”; in 1889 it was renamed “Dr. Barnardo’s Home for Girls” and in 1912, “The Margaret Cox Home for Girls”. This leads us to the question, just who was Margaret Cox and why was Dr. Barnardo’s receiving home named after her? Margaret was born 12 November 1844 in Peterborough, Ontario; to Irish immigrants Daniel Hopkins and his wife Jane Donnelly. Margaret was their third child born of six.
In a biography by Nathanael Burwash, Chancellor of Victoria University, Margaret was described as a child of rare promise, beautiful in person, alert and strong in mind, deeply affectionate in disposition, winning in manners, and earnest and thoughtful; as well as cheerful in character.
Margaret received an outstanding education, of which she had scarcely completed when she met a tall and handsome man, George A. Cox. George, then working as an agent for the Montreal Telegraph Company and the Canadian Express Company, eventually became not only the Mayor of Peterborough, but also a very wealthy leader of this country. Eighteen-year old Margaret married George on 28 May 1862. She devoted her life to George, their children and their community of Peterborough. Margaret became a leader in their church and community with her unwavering compassion and care for others, especially the poor.
During a visit to England in 1882, Margaret was greatly moved by the extreme poverty and wretchedness found in the city of London. While there, she became acquainted with Dr. Barnardo and his work. Upon arriving back in Canada, she quickly dispatched a friend to England to observe Dr. Barnardo’s work. At home in Peterborough she worked to secure a receiving home for the children. She found the perfect property, a large home known as “Hazel Brae”, located on Conger's Hill, just off, what is now George Street. This threestory beauty was built by Thomas Belcher in 1872. The Cox’s offered the home to Dr. Barnardo - rent free. Dr. Barnardo, after outfitting the home for the children, quickly moved his head office from Front Street in Toronto to Hazel Brae. The main floor of Hazel Brae consisted of a secretary’s office, a staff dining hall for the children and a children’s play room complete with a lavatory. On the second floor were sleeping rooms for the staff, plus a section used for a dormitory. A further dormitory, outfitted with little cots - sufficient to sleep 150 children - occupied the third floor. Each cot had a pillow, fresh linens and was covered with a gray blanket.
Dr. Barnardo, in his memoirs wrote: “I cannot be too thankful to God for his goodness in touching the hearts of this gentleman and his wife, neither of whom I have ever seen, to offer such aid.” Hazel Brae received its first Home Children in November of 1883. Dr. Barnardo visited Hazel Brae for the first time in 1884, describing it as such: ...[a]charming house situated a little outside of the town, upon a hillside, commanding a view of the country round about, and standing in its own grounds of some six acres”. Dr. Barnardo’s arrival to Canada was celebrated with a lavish reception, held at Hazel Brae. The reception was attended by Margaret and her husband, the then acting Mayor of Peterborough. All in all, over two hundred people attended; who were charged ten cents a head admission.
In 1889 Margaret and her husband moved to Toronto. Dr. Barnardo wrote during the continued residence of Mr. and Mrs. Cox at Peterborough, “their personal interest in the Institution did much to promote its success; but of late years, to my great regret and to real loss of the work, Mr. and Mrs. Cox have removed their home to Toronto”. Dr. Barnardo visited Canada once again in 1890 to make some much needed changes to Hazel Brae. Margaret died 22 Jan 1905, in her sixty-second year, of a diabetic coma. Her husband George followed her in 1914. In 1912, the Haze Brae Home was renamed the “Margaret Cox Home for Girls” in her honor. In 1918 the home was signed over to Dr. Barnardo by their son, Herbert Cox. Four years later Hazel Brae was closed - all the children would be received in Toronto following this. The building was demolished in 1939 and in 1941 the property was sold to Morley Shaver of Peterborough. Today the only hint of the children’s receiving home is a black granite heritage plaque on its former site.