Inspired by contemporaries Thomas Barnardo and Annie Macpherson, William established a programme of emigration to Canada. 35 children from Quarrier’s homes made the journey to Canada on board the St David on 2 July 1872. During the first few years, the children went to a receiving home in Belleville, Ontario, where they stayed for several months before being placed with families on farms and homesteads, mainly in Ontario. Quarriers soon established its own receiving home, Fairknowe, in Brockville, Ontario, and this was managed by Quarrier’s daughter and son-in-law. Children journeying to Canada were accompanied by senior personnel from the Orphan Homes, and sometimes William Quarrier himself made the journey with them.
Migration was paused between 1897 due to a change in legislation, then began again in 1904 and, with an enforced break during the First World War, continued until 1938. Throughout this period one, or more often two, parties of 50 – 70 children sailed to Canada every year. A total of 6,987 children emigrated to Canada through Quarriers.
37 children were migrated to Australia between 1939 and the 1963.