Memorable Manitobans: Laura Belle Shaw Crouch (1872-1937)
Born at Louisville, Kansas on 6 August 1872, she came to Winnipeg in 1900 and established an orphanage called The Home of the Friendless. By 1909, she had four buildings: a hospice at 590-592 Furby Street, a house next door for homeless boys, a twelve-room house at 623 Maryland Street for girls and younger children, and a three-storey building at 293 St. Johns Avenue for homeless girls. A devout Methodist, she claimed to fundraise for her facilities through the power of prayer. One of her benefactors was businessman Alexander “Sandy” Macdonald who bought her a 250-acre farm in the RM of Rosser and a ten-acre lot at 1650 Main Street in the RM of West Kildonan for construction of a new, larger facility. By the early 1920s, there were allegations of abuse of some 250 children in her care. Ahead of increasing government scrutiny over her questionable practices, in 1927 she moved to Summerland, British Columbia and established a new orphanage there. She died there on 23 November 1937 and was buried in the Peach Orchard Cemetery.
1901 Canada census, Automated Genealogy.
Death registration, British Columbia Vital Statistics.
“Mrs. L. Crouch, religious home organizer, dies,” Winnipeg Tribune, 25 November 1937, page 7.
“Mrs. Laura Crouch, Home for Friendless organizes, dies,” Winnipeg Free Press, 26 November 1937, page 25.
We thank Olga Steinke for providing additional information used here.
Page revised: 2 April 2017
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