Wellington County and the Georgetown Boys

In May 2016, the Wellington County Museum and Archives accepted a donation of two carpet stretchers that revealed a fascinating story. The carpet stretchers belonged to Carl Saillian (1915-1999), who lived and raised his family in Erin Township. Carl established a successful carpet cleaning business, "Armenian Rug and Upholstery Cleaners."

Carpet Stretcher image

(Left): Carpet Stretcher (WCMA 2016.31.1)

Carl's story begins in what is now Turkey, at the start of the Armenian Genocide (1915-1923). During the genocide, an estimated 1.5 million Armenians were massacred, including Carl's parents. Carl, then called Karchin Sayilian, was one of thousands of children left orphaned and displaced by the genocide.

The plight of the Armenian refugees resonated with Canadians, who raised significant funds for relief efforts. The Armenian Relief Association of Canada brought 109 orphaned Armenian boys to Canada between 1923 and 1927, including Carl and his brother, Parsegh Sayilian. The boys were educated and trained in farming in Georgetown before being placed with farm families throughout Southern Ontario. Like Carl, many of the 'Georgetown Boys' adopted anglicized names to ease their transition into Canadian life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Above): Inspection record for Karchin Sayilian. As with all 'Home Children' brought to Canada, the Georgetown Boys received regular inspection visits from federal immigration officials once they were placed in home situations. (Library and Archives Canada, Juvenile Inspection Reports, RG76 C4c, R1206-158-4-E, microfilm reel T-15425, image 3309)

Carl's first farm placement was in 1929, on the farm of Judson W. Brown (Dunnville, Haldimand County). In 1930, he went to the farm of Charles Young (Rockwood), followed by the farm of D.R. Lloyd (Rockwood). His brother, who went by Percy, also went to Rockwood. Percy worked first for Harold Scott, followed by Ray Grummett. Sadly, he was injured and suffered permanent physical disability. He was admitted to the Wellington County House of Industry and Refuge in 1936 at the age of 22.

Through our research, we have discovered the names of six Georgetown Boys who were placed on farms in Wellington County. The boys whom we have identified so far are:

Karchin Sayilian (Carl Saillian): Placed with Charles Young and D. R. Lloyd (Rockwood)

Parsegh Sayilian (Percy Sailhan): Placed with Harold Scott and Ray Grummett (Rockwood)

Sarkis Sarkisian: Placed with Oliver Ireland (Belwood) and Ross Walker (Fergus)

Hovsep Akelian (Joseph A. Wiseman): Placed with the Henderson family (Belwood)

Hatchig Karadjian: Placed with Earl Hindley (Rockwood)

Minas Kouyoumjian: Placed with Dan Sargent (Belwood)

Can you help us trace these boys? If you have any information about these boys, or any other Georgetown Boys who came to Wellington County, please let us know! Please contact Curatorial Assistant Hailey Johnston if you are able to help with our research.

© 2019 County of Wellington, 74 Woolwich St. Guelph, Ontario N1H 3T9, T 519.837.2600, TF 1.800.663.0750, F 519.837.1909