William Jaffray's account of life at the House in 1871
William Jaffray, a local journalist decided to visit the House and spend a day there to observe the daily operations. He wrote a speech of his observations and suggestions and presented it to the County Council on June 20, 1871 as a lecture in the Town Hall.
At the time of Jaffray’s visit people were admitted to the House of Industry and Refuge regardless of age. On the day of his visit, the oldest was 80 and the youngest was 4. Until 1900, the House of Industry and Refuge housed all people, regardless of age. In 1900, the County Council amended the by-law preventing children ages 2 to 16 from living in the House of Industry and Refuge.
Dinner at noon (lunch) consisted of soup, meat, bread and potatoes, a common noon meal for most people in 1871. The evening meal was much simpler; tea, bread and potatoes. Jaffray notes that there was more than enough for everyone.
The House of Industry and Refuge included a working farm with several kinds of livestock and crops. People who lived at the House were expected to help with chores as they were able. This included work outdoors on the farm and in the gardens as well as domestic responsibilities indoors.