W9863k TO MATT BROMAN from T.B. McQuesten, Exerpt from British Weekly
Jun 20 1942
To: Matt Broman
The British Weekly
[To Matt broman from T.B. McQuesten]1,2
A Dream Come True
By Raphael Nelson
A visit to the East End of London was indirectly responsible for flowering and fruiting of a scheme that will perpetuate the name and memory of the man in whose visionary mind it originated--Kingsley Fairbridge.
Fairbridge was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford with a keenly developed sense of both the importance of the Colonies within the framework of the British Commonwealth of Nations and the paramount need for attracting to them suitable material for colonising from the Mother Country. With this in mind he formed a Child Emigration Society in Oxford, which became the fount of activities in this direction. The vision that was to unfold itself to him of "dead end" children taken from the murk, aqualor and poverty of their homes and surroundings and sent to people the healthy lands of the Colonies, found expression in aletter he wrote following his visit to the East End:
"I saw a street in the East End of London. It was a street crowded--dirty children, yet lovable, exhausted with the heat. No decent air, not enough food. The waste of all. Children's lives wasting while the Empire cried out aloud for men. There were workhouses full--and no farmers. Farmers--children, farmers, children, and then I saw it quite clearly: train the children to be farmers ... I saw little children shedding the bondage of bitter circumstances."
Fairbridge had in view their training and schooling on efficient, practical lines, their home to be sunny Western Austrailia with its vast fertile dairy and pastoral sheep lands, its rich natural resources, its ripeness for development, human and material. As soon as subscriptions from the Child Emigration Society he had established in Oxford were sufficient to enable him to put his scheme into actual practice, Fairbridge eagerly bought up a block of some 160 acres south of Pinjarra. Great was his joy when the first twelve children sent out from England arrived. This was January of 1913. In June of the same year a larger party--this time twenty-two--were welcomed to their new home. Fairbridge's vision had thus been realised, though the outcome was very uncertain, as all experiments of such a nature, without guaranteed financial backing, must be.
The calamitous war which broke out almost undid his many years of exacting striving. It deprived him of the means so necessary at that stage for the continuance of the project, and he found himself in the undeserved position of being virtually stranded with 34 boys on his hands. But the word defeat had no meaning to Fairbridge. He was convinced of the soundess of his scheme and was determined to shepherd it through the evil times that had engulfed three parts of the world. He applied to the Governmental Charities Department, then under the control of a worthy and understanding mind, to-day the Hon. Sir Hal Colebatch, C.M.G., which resulted in the Government according him the same financial assitance given to charities and orphanages. This made it possible for him to complete the full course of the boys' training and keep, and it says much for the methods of Fairbridge, who personally taught them, that not one of the lads turned out to be a failure in any respect; in point of fact, the farmers to whom they were sent were highly pleased with them and did not mince their words in praise of the sound training they had been given. And then, for some unaccountable reason, the scheme collapsed.
A Timely Bequest
To any lacking the determinded qualities of Kingsley Fairbridge, who had proved to the hilt the efficacy of his scheme, it might have been the finish of a very laudable object. But Fairbridge has faith--the burning faith of one working for a good cause. As soon as the war was over he was off to England to seek financial aid on a scale that would render the work to which he had devoted his life a greater degree of permanence. Such was his success that by 1920, despite the in-roads on resources brought about by the recent war, he was in a position to buy up a property of 3500 acres suitable for mixed farming. This was also Pinjarra, about twelve miles from the coast and over fifty from Perth.
It was a big step forward, but the spectre of finance was always hovering in the background, and Fairbridge knew that unless a more stable income was forthcoming than was available from voluntary contributions, the altogether, larger development of his scheme could never take shape. So when, in 1932, the Western Austrailia Government, as well as the Commonwealth and Imperial Governments, agreed to make a fixed grant per capita towards the upkeep and development of the schools, not only was a great load removed from Fairbridge's mind, but a financial foundation was laid down that would ensure for the future the untroubled functioning of his scheme.
With Governmental aid and prestige behind the movement expansion was to be expected, though this did not come till 1934, ten years after Fairbridge's death. An appeal by the then Prince of Wales was launched, its aim being the not inconsiderable sum of 100 000 pounds, which was successfully realised. This was to be used for the provision of new schools on the Fairbridge basis, the first to be set up in Canada. Further substantial sums came in the form of the entire large fortune left by Lady Northcote for the establishment of a Fairbridge school in Victoria (Austrailia), and later, under the guidance of Mr. Andrew Reid, a similar school has been opened in New South Wales.
Something of the activities and scope of the Fairbridge schools will help to convey the soundness and success of their Founder's scheme. It had always been Fairbridge's great hope that the children should be fitted for life through efficient manual training no less than by an efficient general education. This has been met by the staffing of the schools by qualified teachers from the Government Education Department in both spheres. Boys are given expert instruction in the use of tools in well-equipped workshops, and girls are given a course of practical domestic science. A high standard of work is kept up.
The cottage home is an outstanding feature of the schools, each airy, spacious, cottage, housing, respectively, fourteen girls or boys. A woman of understanding and experience is placed in charge as house-mother. For the main meal of the day the children meet in a large common dining room: otherwise meals are taken in the cottages under the homeliest of aspects. Careful attention is given to games and outdoor pursuits, and once a year, in groups, the entire school is taken to a popular summer resort, where the children camp out and enjoy the holiday that appeals to them most--an open air one.
To ensure complete success of the scheme, an after-care system is in operation whereby the interests of old Fairbridgeans are zealously taken care of by an officer specially employed for this purpose. He keeps continuous contact with employers of the school's children and sees that he or she enjoys the benefits provided for in the contract, and that they are in good health. Up tp the age of twenty-one, half of the child's wages are banked, and at all times the advice of the Principal is readily forthcoming on any aspects connected with their welfare. Available, too, for old Fairbridgeans, is a club-house at the Farm School, in which they may spend a holiday. Many become farmers on thair own account and are given generous facilities in the way of Government loans. It says much for the great success of the Fairbridge method that there are always more applicants for Fairbridge children than can be supplied. In fact, rarely, if ever, is a Fairbridge product unemployed, even in times of acute national depression.
It is a dream come true. And Kingsley Fairbridge, who gave himself without stint or thought of gain to its development and realisation, may with truth be said to have shed the bondage of bitter circumstances of some of the "children--dirty children, yet lovable, exhausted with the heat. No decent air, not enough food."
1 This lengthy article was attached to W9863j.
Matt Broman worked very closely with Thomas B. McQuesten on many of his projects in Hamilton and in Niagara. There is a plaque commemorating Matt Broman's work at the RBG near the Thomas B. McQuesten High Level Bridge. There is also a small lookout park named after him on the brow overlooking King's Forest Park in Hamilton. The series of letters beginning with "986" are all part of the Broman collection.
For more information on T.B. McQuesten see his biography.
2 This document was originally numbered 986.1.058.2 but has been renumbered for cataloguing purposes.