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THE FORCE OF HOPE: The Legacy of Father McGauran
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EPISODE: 2 "The Force of Hope: The Legacy of Father McGauran"
Directed by Lindalee Tracey


The Irish Potato Famine of the 1840s sent thousands of sick and dying immigrants to Grosse Isle, Québec, in what became known as the "Summer of Sorrow". This is the story of one heroic Irish Canadian, Father Bernard McGauran, who brought comfort to many of the immigrants in the summer of 1847.


  • Reasons for Irish immigration in the 1840s
  • Arguments in Canada in the 1840s for and against Irish immigration
  • Hardships experienced by Irish immigrants


  • Irish Famine
  • Poor House
  • Typhus
  • Grosse Isle
  • Coffin ships


  • To understand the reasons for Irish immigration and the hardships that ensued
  • To determine if Father McGauran is a true Canadian hero
  • To appreciate the contributions of Irish immigrants to Canada

  1. Write a diary with three or four entries over several weeks, on one of the following topics:
    • Father McGauran while he is at Grosse Isle.
    • An Irish immigrant en route to Canada.
    • An Irish immigrant at Grosse Isle.

  2. The public was split over whether the Irish immigrants should be allowed to land in Canada. You are the editor of Le Canadien. Write an editorial article either in support of or in opposition to the Irish to coming to Canada.

  3. Many Irish children lost both parents to either cholera or typhus, leaving them orphaned in a strange country. Fortunately, many of them were taken in by local French families. Imagine you are a ten year old Irish girl/boy who has just lost your parents and have been accepted into the Clouthier family living in Montreal. Monsieur Clouthier is a successful businessman and has 3 children: 1 boy, Jacques age 8, and two girls, Marie age 10 and Madeline age 12. Living with the Clouthiers is vastly different from anything you experienced in Ireland. Their lifestyle and customs are different. Write a letter to your Uncle Patrick in Ireland telling him of your experiences. Focus on the similarities as well as the differences between the two cultures.

  4. Write a 12 line poem about the "Summer of Sorrow".

  5. Throughout the film the narrator asks a number of questions. Many of the answers that are provided are speculative. Take on the role of Father McGauran and respond to the questions in a diary format.

  6. In the film, Father McGauran is compared to Mother Theresa. Research the role Mother Theresa has played in the modern world and write an essay (approximately 500 words) analyzing whether the comparison is appropriate.

  7. Listen to and read the lyrics of the traditional Irish song, "Danny Boy". There are two versions, one with the traditional lyrics and one with lyrics by David Geller. Both should be read if possible. Analyze the lyrics and music to determine what it says about the Irish and/or Irish history. You may also want to consider why Irish music, through such successful performances as Riverdance, has become so popular and accepted by Canadians.

  8. In 1847 religion divided Canadians as much as ethnicity. Yet at Grosse Isle, kindness and tolerance won over religious divisions. Father McGauran helped bring together Protestant and Catholic clergy to comfort the sick. Find three examples of religious discrimination during the 1800s and three examples of religious tolerance. Explore attitudes toward Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs, Moslems.

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