The Dakeyne Lads Club under Captain Oliver Watts Hind, a British officer and youth worker, grew to over 350 members. In 1912 Hind along with 2 well known farmers of England came to Nova Scotia and bought a two hundred and fifty acre farm in Mt. Denson to provide a home for boys from ages 13-17 who on their own, or with parents’ consent wanted to come to Canada to learn farming with a view to becoming farmers in Canada..
The farm trained boys in many methods of farming – They had Dairy, dairy products, beef, poultry, pork, vegetables, hay, berries, and apples. They grew their own produce and sold it to help cut costs. The livestock was shipped from England – Duel purpose shorthorn – for milk and beef. The main farm (there are three separate lots) slopes toward the bank of the Avon River. The Farm was equipped with good buildings, house, barn, piggery, work shop etc., well modeled and such as one would see on a first class farm. In Hind’s time he grew the farm from the original 250 acres to over 500 acres.
Over 200 boys (and at least 2 girls) came to Canada via our farm. Some stayed for years on the farm, while others were sent on to other local farms to work. Oliver Hind kept a close watch on every one of them, for as long as he was involved in the farm. He wrote letters, and visited often. (as often as you can for a time without today’s air service) He cared for them as if they were his own, and if any found themselves unhappy about being either at the farm or the farm they were later placed on, he would make sure to remedy the situation.
I am married to John I’s great grandson, and we are currently working towards continuing the farm so we can preserve it’s history.
Ours is one of the better British Home Child stories.. Oliver Hind saw how children were treated, and wanted to find a better way. He had heard of them being sent across the ocean, and being sent off to farm, without ever stepping foot on one before. He wanted to help them, so he created the farm as a home base for the boys.. so they could always feel safe, while at the same time learn to farm with hopes of them starting their own. After reading one of his letters, in which he included riddles for the young to solve, you could see he was concerned like a teacher who loves his students. He made no money from this venture.. but spent a great deal of his own funding the school including some of the boys. One little boy he found living in the sewers of Nottingham.. He sent him over here, paid for his clothing and supplies, and eventually helped him settle on his own farm. His family still lives next door to the farm.