In January of 2022, I was contacted by Adrian Heffernan, who spent a great deal of his childhood in the Church of England orphanage in St. John’s, and who wanted there to be a story in Anglican Life to talk about the positive experience that he and many others had at that institution. In recent years, there have been many stories in the news about orphanages that were not good places, that were centres of abuse, and that hid and denied that abuse for years. As a person who grew up in this orphanage, that was not Heffernan’s experience, nor was it for Derrick Barbour. These two men collaborated with the late Bishop Peddle on a book about their time in the orphanage called “The Church of England Orphanage in Newfoundland: 1855 – 1969.”
Heffernan says, “Many people reading this article would not have personally known, the late Geoffrey Peddle, former Bishop of the Eastern Diocese of Newfoundland and Labrador. As for me, he was my friend, and I knew of his work and total dedication to the Anglican Church of Canada, particularly in Newfoundland and Labrador. I was aware of his writing a book on the 114-year-old history of the Church of England Orphanage in St. John’s covering the noble work of the now Anglican Church of Canada.” He encourages anyone interested in learning more to read the book by Bishop Peddle, which is available from the Diocese of Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador (22 Church Hill, St. John’s, NL A1C 3Z9, or by phoning (709) 576-6697).
From the back cover of the book: “From its beginning in 1855 as The Newfoundland Church of England Asylum for Widows and Orphans following a devastating outbreak of cholera in St. John’s, until its ending in 1969, approximately 2000 children were cared for by the institution. And not just children; until 1908 widows were also included. And even when the orphanage closed, the Anglican church continued the good work it had done with children and their families by investing the assets into The Anglican Charitable Foundation for Children (ACFC). In the years since, the ACFC has helped more than 39,000 children and young people and distributed over $8 million.”
Heffernan added, “Might I also take the privilege of asking you, after reading it, to donate your book to another person who may also enjoy this wonderful story. As a non-Anglican resident of that orphanage from 1950-1956, I know that this story is true and accurate.”