Children's Aid Society of London Opens Its Doors 1893

The nature of Canadian society as  whole was changing, which was most apparent in Ontario cities and towns. There was an increase in concern for the plight of children needing to be “saved” or “rescued” and a growing conviction that better provisions for their welfare must be made.

A new philosophy about children, their nature and how they should ideally be raised was emerging. Children who suffered the loss of their parents or who were born out of wedlock or whose parents were unable to deal with the problems of life in the industrial towns and cities faced numerous hazards. Increasing numbers of children were reported to be growing up virtually uncared for and with little prospect of becoming “useful members” of the community.  
KelsoOn November 5, 1893, John Joseph Kelso, Superintendent of Neglected Children for Ontario, visited London. Kelso was a man of vision and strong opinions. In his early twenties, Kelso was a newspaper reporter in Toronto who was concerned about the cruel treatment of horses and donkeys on the streets. He was equally if not more disturbed by the plight of newsboys of tender years, homeless, ill-clothed and ill-fed. Although Kelso initiated measures for improving the condition of animals, he soon found himself devoting more effort towardsimproved conditions for delinquent and destitute children. Kelso came to symbolize and personify child welfare in Ontario for the next fifty years.

On November 13, 1893, London’s Mayor Essery convened a public meeting of concerned citizens. Kelso addressed the meeting with his persuasive rhetoric about child saving work and the need for good Christian homes for destitute, deprived and abandoned children. Kelso’s passionate plea resulted in the passing of the following 
resolution, “In the opinion of the meeting, it is highly desirable to establish a Society in London similar to that provided for in the 
Children’s Protection Act of Ontario.” The Children’s Aid Society of London was therefore founded on November 13, 1893. By 
February 2, 1894 the Society was incorporated under its first 

The first staff member of the Children’s Aid Society of London, known as the Inspector, was Mr. Joseph Sanders who also had temporary duties as Secretary. The first annual report indicated that he oversaw 40 families, with a total of 90 children. He continued as Inspector for just over twenty-five years. His involvement in the lives of children and their parents became legendary. Letters indicate his strong advocacy for the proper placement and care of children. 

Per the Constitution, the new Society had the following 
general purposes and objectives:

- To protect children from cruelty;
- To care for and protect neglected, abandoned or orphaned children;
- To provide such children as may be lawfully committed or entrusted to the Society with suitable homes in private families;
- To watch over and guard their interests and promote their happiness and well-being;
- To secure the enforcement of laws relating to neglected and dependent children or juvenile offenders and generally to advocate the claims of neglected, abandoned or orphaned children upon the sympathy and support of the public.

The Society’s mission, purpose, goals and objectives have evolved over 125 years, however what has remained from the original constitution of 1893 is a steadfast commitment to the safety and well-being of children, youth and families.

125th Anniversary Publication 
(PDF two page folded - click link or image to download)

125 Publication Timeline

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