The Georgetown Boys
Fifty Armenian orphans, later known as THE GEORGETOWN BOYS, arrived in Canada on June 30th, 1923 through government support and the donations of ordinary Canadians. It was a unique event in Canadian history, an event commonly referred to as "Canada's Noble Experiment."
The 'noble experiment' was Canada's first humanitarian act on an international scale. After the Armenian Genocide, there was an outpour of popular support for the Armenian orphans that survived the massacres in Ottoman Turkey. The Toronto Globe newspaper appealed to the public with emotionally charged headlines including, "SHALL WE LET THEM DIE?"
Forty more orphans would arrive the following year and others would trickle in, eventually bringing the total to one hundred and ten.
Jack Apramian was one of those young refugees adopted by the country. He wrote about the experience years later, "It was the land of everybody's dreams, where all the people were rich and wore shoes and dressed in fine clothes, and lived in large mansions. I was one of the lucky ones chosen, and this is how I came to Canada at the age of eight."
Apramian also describes their culture shock, "We were settled on the Cedarvale Farm--a 200 acre tract of orchard just outside Georgetown, 30 miles northwest of Toronto. We soon got used to the taste of such strange foods as cornflakes, oatmeal porridge, puddings, white bread and apples grown right on 'our' farm."
The boys were taught English and gradually sent to apprentice with farmers in the district until they reached the age of majority. The few girls that were brought over as part of the initiative were adopted into various households as domestics.
The boys left their sponsoring farms at the age of eighteen. Free to pursue their dreams, they were quickly confronted by the harsh realities of the Great Depression, and discrimination in Canadian cities like Toronto, where 80% of the population was still of English ancestry.
They would soon learn to adapt to the culture and through the years settle across the continent. In a final thank you to the community that helped them during the dark days of the Genocide, members of the original group established a scholarship fund for the children of Georgetown that continues to fund the university education of many in that town.
Independent and Free Press http://www.independentfreepress.com/lifestyle/article/49191 May 21 2008 Canada
Director Sam Hancock greeted author Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch at the gala presentation of The Georgetown Boys at the John Elliott Theatre last Wednesday. Skrypuch wrote the book, Aram's Choice, which Hancock adapted for the stage as The Georgetown Boys, presented by the members of the Georgetown Little Theatre's Youth Company. The story is about 110 Armenian orphan boys who were brought to Canada in 1923 after surviving a genocide to live in Georgetown and train as farmers. Many of the descendants attended the gala presentation. Members of the Youth Company (below) were presented with Armenian pins from an Armenian community group
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