Ontario Beach Park – #35

Beginning in 1907, or maybe earlier, there was an annual Orphan’s Day at Ontario Beach Park. At first it was only for the children at Rochester Orphan Asylum (now Hillside). In 1908 they started adding other orphanages. By 1917 they had included the three Catholic orphanages (St. Patrick’s, St. Mary’s, and St. Joseph’s), two Jewish (Jewish Orphan Asylum and Jewish Sheltering  Home), the Industrial School, Church Home (now an old age home) and the Dorsey Home (for African-American children).

Orphan Day was organized by the Rochester Automobile Association. First they would start with a parade through downtown Rochester and then drive north to the Park. There, the orphans were given free admission and rides on the amusements. They also got candy, peanuts, corn fritters, ice cream cones, and a boxed lunch.

All the picture in this post were taken by Albert R. Stone who at that time was employed by the Rochester Herald newspaper. These pictures are on the Rochester Public Library website (as part of Rochester Images).

Parade with orphans on Main St., Rochester.

The autos with the orphans arrive at the Park – 1909.

Group of orphans eating cookies – 1909.

Mayor Edgerton (without hat) talking to orphans – 1911.

Girls with their parasols and holding boxed lunches.

Taking movies of orphan boys in front of Hotel Ontario.

Group from the Dorsey Home holding box lunches.

Eating box lunch – 1918.

Eating ice cream. Man on left is handing out cones – 1919.

Boys drinking pop – 1922.

Next: Last year of the amusement park.


  1. Dick, do you know why there were so many orphans at that time and also how does that compare to present time. Any idea?

    • There wasn’t any welfare system so if one parent died then the other parent would have to work and not be able to take care of the children. Looking at the records of Rochester Orphan Asylum, most children would be picked up later either by the parent or another relative later. Occasionally that would be a couple of years.

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