‘Twas Christmas Day in the Workhouse’


Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Holidays! Thank you to all who have been reading and supporting this website devoted to recording the history of the poor houses not only in Nova Scotia but also in other parts of the world. May your holidays be bright, cheerful and full of joy.

I am putting this post up today to remind us all that poverty doesn’t just happen on the holidays; poverty happens all year ’round. We tend to give more and pay more attention to the poor on the holidays but once these days pass, we return to blaming the poor for their own plight instead of examining a capitalist culture that chews up and spits out workers and puts them in poverty.

Today I want to share with you the poem “Twas Christmas Day in the Workhouse” by journalist George Robert Sims.  It tells the story of an old trader John who is in the workhouse on Christmas day when the Guardians of the workhouse (the elite who donated money and food) come to watch the inmates enjoy their Christmas pudding. John becomes upset and refuses to eat his pudding, regaling the story of how his wife, Nance, died a year before on this date because the workhouse refused to help them.

The following is a recording of the poem done in 1912 by Robert Hilliard on a Victoria 78.  It is a dark poem and a stark reminder that poverty happens all year.


One thought on “‘Twas Christmas Day in the Workhouse’

  1. Thank you, for sharing, so sad.i have a 4th Great Aunt that spent 26 years in a poor house in Hants County… she went there after her parents wee too old to look after her…..


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