A Scattering of Seeds: The Creation of Canada
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THE FORCE OF HOPE: The Legacy of Father McGauran
Immigration History

Bernard McGauran left his home in County Sligo, Ireland, sometime in the 1830's. No one knows exactly when. He came to Canada as a boy and was ordained into the priesthood at St. Anne de la Pocatière, Québec, in 1846(1). A year later the Irish Potato Famine sent thousands of desperate emigrants toward Québec and into Father McGauran's care. But McGauran's arrival predates the Famine Irish and is part of the first and most significant wave of Irish immigrants to Canada: the period between 1825-1845(2).

Many people think of the Irish Famine of 1847 as the time "when the Irish came to Canada." But an estimated 475,000 Irish landed in British North America before then. It was this earlier wave of Irish immigrants that would shape the development of Irish Canada and lay the most meaningful cultural foundations(3).

There had been 'emigration mania' two decades before the Famine. The Irish economy had been declining while the population was exploding. Emigrants were mostly from Ireland's northern counties such as Ulster, north Connaught and north Leinster. They were middle class and could afford the voyage over to a second chance and a brighter future. It was an orderly emigration; most came in families, but there were also single male and female immigrants. The majority of these newcomers bypassed Newfoundland and Halifax, in favour of New Brunswick, Québec and Ontario, following the traditional trading lanes between Canada and England(4).

1 - Eyewitness, Grosse Isle, 1847
by Marianna O'Gallagher(Carraig Books, Sainte Foy, Québec, 1995).

2,4 - The Irish in Canada, Volume I
edited by Robert O'Driscoll and Lorna Reynolds (Celtic Arts of Canada, Toronto, 1988).

3 - The 1998 Canadian & World Encyclopedia
(McClelland & Stewart Inc., Toronto, 1998).

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