What a story and what a legacy! I have just completed Bishop Geoff Peddle’s book, “The Church of England Orphanage in Newfoundland: 1855-1969.” The well researched book details its early history and follows it up with a series of testimonials from former students—a section which I found most interesting.
Many know the history of this “asylum,” but I will summarize Bishop Geoff’s words. The dreaded disease cholera arrived in St. John’s caused primarily by poor sanitation, unsafe water, and food contamination. Up to 500 people died leaving many children without parents. Bishop Edward Feild offered the new Queen’s College as a temporary hospital and went on to suggest that a house at the rear of the Cathedral rectory be an asylum housing eight children ranging in age of four to 12 years. That facility opened on Ash Wednesday, February 21 in 1855. Over the next 114 years, it nurtured hundreds of boys and girls.
Testimonials of how the children were treated were all very positive. They appreciated the playground area, the library, and the food generally. The CLB was an important part of their lives, and the Church played a significant role in the lives of the young people. Such was the case of one young man whose father drowned, and his mother placed him (and his three siblings) in the care of the orphanage. He lived there for 10 years and commented in his testimonial, “I am forever grateful for her (his mother) having done this. I have no answers for what would have happened if she had not made that decision.”
However, in 1969 the orphanage closed and a decision was made to sell the properties and invest the proceeds, so that the annual interest could be used to support Anglican young people in this province. Thus the Anglican Charitable Foundation For Children (ACFC) came to be in 1974. The current chairperson of the Board of the Foundation, Canon John Courage, said that “ACFC’s mandate is to provide assistance to our tri-diocesan families, which we have done through clothing, camping, education bursaries, medical, and fire, and other emergencies. All done through the local parish priest or designate and is always worthy of more support in prayer and financial assistance.”
Canon John wrote in his report that over the “45 year history of the ACFC, records show that over 39,172 children and young people have been assisted. The legacy of Bishop Feild lives on. Canon John writes that “Little could Bishop Edward Feild ever think that his desire to establish a method of helping those in the greatest need would continue for 165 years. His legacy lives on.”
The Foundation has been helped over the years by donations, and a worthy cause such as this one certainly deserves our support. Please contact me if you are interested in leaving a bequest for the ministry of ACFC.