Be a part of genealogical carceral research in action!
We hope to support your ancestral research and to promote public awareness of a dark chapter in Canadian history starting with the Andrew Mercer Reformatory for Women (1880-1969) and the Industrial Refuge for Girls (1880-1905) in Toronto, Ontario.
This project aims to trace and document the lives of women and girls before incarceration, during, and after their release, including the separation of infants and children from their mothers by the retrieval of archival material and family anecdotes.
If you would like to help us document the history of women and girls incarcerated at Mercer, then please see the research section of this website. We are also interested in hearing about individuals confined in other institutions such as the Good Shepherd, Belmont House, Concord Industrial Farm for Women (a jail farm), or an Industrial School (later called Training Schools).
The Andrew Mercer Reformatory of criminalized women and girls ancestral research was founded by domestic adoptee Faith Lambert, who was born to an incarcerated mother at the Andrew Mercer Reformatory in 1960. Lambert was later adopted, renamed Linda (Lynn) Mayhew and raised on the west mountain of Hamilton, Ontario in Canada. Only learning of her secret birth history in 2018, Lambert endeavored to make sense of her hidden history.
After reaching out to Velma Demerson, once imprisoned at Mercer in 1939, Lambert knew there must be others searching for answers in need of support. Recognizing it is a difficult path working through this complex history on ones own, she continues her search for truth by securing historical records, of which she then guides others with similar difficulties.
She now volunteers her time creating and maintaining the social media pages and sites for the project, and she does so in order to further support and assist others born of incarcerated mothers, and/or the descendants of deceased incarcerated women and girls who are searching for answers.