X11891 | Wiggins Male Orphan Asylum, Saint John, New Brunswick
Wiggins Male Orphan Asylum, Saint John, New Brunswick
John Saunders Climo
About 1875, 19th century
Albumen print mounted on card
8.7 x 17.6 cm
This artefact belongs to: © New Brunswick Museum
Keys to History
Children tended to be classified among the deserving poor. This was especially true of orphans: as they had lost their natural protectors, philanthropists did not have to worry about interfering with parental rights or responsibilities. Owing to high mortality rates, the loss of a parent was a much more common experience for children in the past than it is today. The Montreal Protestant Orphan Asylum was founded in 1822; the move to create child charities gained force in the rest of Canada in the 1850s, with a flurry of Protestant orphanages springing up in all major towns and cities. These institutions were usually created by groups of philanthropists, often women, and depended on private donations and subscriptions for much of their funding. Most admitted both actual orphans and children with one parent. The asylums used a regimen of school, work, skills-training and religion to train the children while in the home. In the 20th century many placed the children in families as soon as possible.
This is a photograph of the Wiggins Male Orphan Institution in Saint John, New Brunswick. The institution admitted orphan boys and boys with one parent, aged four to ten. It could house thirty boys.
The orphanage pictured here was located on Saint James Street, in the centre of the city. It moved to Mount Pleasant Avenue, an upper middle-class neighbourhood, in 1922.
The Wiggins Male Orphan Institution was incorporated in 1867 but not opened until 1876. It closed in 1982.
The home was founded with funds from a legacy left in 1863 by Stephen Wiggins (1781-1863), a prominent Saint John merchant.