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Industrial Schools Association of Toronto


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Biographical Sketch or Administrative History

The Industrial Schools Association of Toronto functioned from approximately 1883 to 1937, providing care for children without homes, for juvenile delinquents and for those children who had otherwise been removed from their parents' custody.

The Industrial Schools Act was passed in the Provincial Legislature in 1874 and amended ten years later, allowing School Board trustees to delegate operations to philanthropic societies that had been incorporated under the Benevolent Societies Act of 1877 (An Act Respecting Benevolent, Provident and other Societies, chap.167).

The Industrial Schools Association was one such society, formed on June 2, 1883. Its objectives were to offer a public and legally empowered alternative to similar private institutions, by providing a home and rehabilitation to destitute children (aged 14 and younger), and also to cope with juvenile delinquency outside of traditional correctional facilities for adult offenders and the existing reformatories for young offenders.

The Industrial Schools Association oversaw the creation and administration of two establishments. The Victoria Industrial School for Boys was organized by William H. Howland (Mayor of Toronto, 1886-1888, and founder of the Prisoners' Aid Society) and Beverley Jones (lawyer, and President of the school until his death in 1934). It was opened in June of 1887, occupying a 20-acre property in Mimico on a long-term lease arrangement with the Ontario Government. Mr. W.J. Hendry was its first Superintendent. On Sept. 1, 1892, The Alexandra Industrial School for Girls was opened in Scarborough, with Lucy W. Brooking as its Superintendent.

The Industrial Schools provided a sentencing option for judges and were an adjunct to the Truancy Department of the School Board. Under the 1884 Amendment to the Industrial Schools Act, parents could also convince the courts to undertake custody of their children under the umbrella of the Industrial Schools, in cases of proven incorrigibility or in the interest of securing basic education and shelter if these could not otherwise be provided. As a consequence, populations of the Industrial Schools were the result of a wide variety of circumstances. Release from the Industrial Schools was arranged on a parole basis.

With the 1893 Act for the Prevention of Cruelty to and Protection of Children and the organization of Children's Aid Societies under the leadership of John Joseph Kelso during the 1890's, and with the closing of the Penetanguishene Reformatory for Boys in 1904 (which brought about not only dramatically increased numbers for the Industrial Schools but also a new enrolment age of up to 16 years), there began a shift towards foster homes as the preferred and cost-saving solution to institutional custody.

Inquiries in 1912 and by Royal Commission in 1921 indicated severely declining and over-crowded conditions in the Industrial Schools. Limited financial support also rendered the schools increasingly hard pressed to uphold the rehabilitative goals of their original mandate.

In 1931, the Industrial Schools Act was superseded by the Training Schools Act, and complete responsibility eventually brought under governmental control.

While each of the Association's two schools had attracted, by 1930, an average yearly enrolment of approximately 200 (and in some years as many as 300), the Victoria Industrial School for Boys was closed by the Minister of Public Welfare in December of 1934, and custody of the residents of Alexandra Industrial School for Girls was similarly taken over in November of 1935. The existence of the Industrial Schools Association was officially terminated by the Provincial Secretary (Harry Corwin Nixon) on November 2, 1938.

Other names

Industrial School Association

Source Note

All of the material in the fonds (F 808)

Dictionary of Canadian Biography

Iozzo (2000)


Archival Records Linked to this Creator

Click on a reference code for more information about a series of records.

Reference Code Series Title

F 808

Industrial Schools Association of Toronto fonds