TORONTO—A year after its municipal designation as a historic site, Cedarvale Community Centre of Georgetown, Ontario, also known as the Georgetown Armenian Boys’ Farmhouse, was commemorated with a provincial plaque by the Ontario Heritage Trust on Monday.
The plaque text reads: “On July 1, 1923, a group of 50 Armenian boys arrived at this farm site from an orphanage in Corfu, Greece. The ‘Georgetown Boys,’ as they came to be known, arrived in Canada between 1923 and 1927 – 109 boys in all. The orphans were survivors of the Armenian Genocide (1915-1923). Their plight touched the hearts of thousands of Canadians, who raised significant funds and lobbied the Canadian government to bring them here. Under the care and supervision of the Armenian Canadian Relief Fund’s Farm and Home Committee, the children lived at Cedarvale Farm located on this property and were taught English and farming skills. By 1928, the orphans were placed with farm families in Southwestern Ontario. As adults, most of the Armenians became Canadian citizens and chose to remain in this country. By providing assistance to non-British Commonwealth refugees, the Armenian Boys’ Farm Home was the first humanitarian effort of its kind in Canada.”
This provincial designation further immortalized the memory of the 109 Armenian children, who immigrated to Canada between 1923 and 1927, and called this building their new home. 109 orphaned Armenian children who had survived the Armenian Genocide in 1915, and in doing so had witnessed terror and trauma unfitting for any child. They had lost their childhood and were under threat to lose their lives as well, but because of the efforts of the Armenian Relief Association of Canada and the funds Canadians raised, these children rediscovered their childhood in the safety of Cedarvale Farm. To immortalize the memory of the Georgetown Boys is to immortalize the memory of the Armenian Genocide and the roots of Canada’s humanitarian efforts. The story of the Georgetown Boys is part of the long history of Canada’s persistence in aiding Armenia and Armenians. The bond is so close that to deny the Armenian Genocide is to deny Canadian humanitarian history.
Hagop Mksyartinian, the representative from the Armenian Community Centre of Toronto who gave greetings, highlighted the importance of this site and plaque to all Canadian citizens in his speech. “This plaque will become a catalyst to human rights and humanitarian education in this province. This plaque will be a constant reminder of the fundamental values and morals that shape our province and its citizens and will become an inspiration to every new generation as they contemplate their actions at home or abroad.”
Present at the event were several Georgetown Boy family members who were represented by Peter Adourian who spoke on their behalf. The Honourable Michael Chan, Minister of Tourism and Culture was also in attendance and shared his greetings with the community. He stressed the importance of preserving culture and heritage in our province and the importance of this site to our province. Although absent, David Caplan, Member of Provincial Parliament for Don Valley East shared his greetings in writing. Caplan congratulated the Armenian National Committee of Toronto where he stated, “Once again, sincere congratulations to the Armenian National Committee of Toronto, and to all of the membersof the Armenian community for their hard work and dedication to the community.” Joe Daniel, Member of Parliament for Don Valley East also shared his greeting in writing where he stated “It’s a great pleasure to share this special event with the Armenian community. I, Joe Daniel, your member of Parliament honour and respect The Armenian Boys’ Farm Home.”
The Armenian Community Centre would like to thank the Ontario Heritage Trust and its dedicated staff for the work they put into making this plaque a reality. We are greatly touched by the devotion, passion and drive displayed by the Ontario Heritage Trust staff all of whom had shown genuine interest in the history and worked tirelessly to ensure the Georgetown Armenian Boys’ Farmhouse received the proper recognition it deserved.