- Grosse Ile and The
Irish Memorial National Historic Site
Canada is a nation created
from a mixture of first people and immigrants. Grosse Ile and the
Irish Memorial National Historic Site helps us to understand the hardships
suffered by many who chose Canada as their home. Between 1832 and
1937, it served as the quarantine station for Quebec, a key port of
entry for European immigrants to Canada. It played an especially important
role during the late 1840s, when more than one-hundred thousand Irish
immigrants flooded into Canada to escape tragic crop failure and disease
in their homeland.
Grosse Ile includes many
poignant reminders of its past, including hotels for various classes
of passengers, a hospital, isolation facilities, churches and, most
telling, the cemetery where thousands of desperate but hopeful immigrants
were laid to rest. Fifty-four hundred lie in the Irish cemetery alone.
The Celtic Cross honours their memory. Another memorial recalls the
sacrifice of doctors who died trying to help newcomers.
at Grosse Ile were improved after the tragedy of 1847. Most of the
extent twenty structures currently on Grosse Ile slowed down as immigration
waned and treatment of diseases improved. The station was close in
Grosse Ile and the Irish Memorial National Historic
2 d'Auteuil Street,
P.O. Box 2474, Postal Terminal, Quebec, Quebec
Telephone: (418) 563-4009 or 1-800-463-6769
Fax: (418) 835-5443 or (418) 241-5530
- Fortress of Louisbourg
National Historic Site
Note: There are records from the first half of the 18th century that
document the presence of Irish servants at the Fortress Louisbourg
National Historic Site. Of course this site pre-dates, by a hundred
years, the period of Grosse Ile and the Irish tragedy but it does
add another dimension to the story of the Irish in this country.
From its establishment
by the French in 1713 until the withdrawal of the last English troops
in 1768, Louisbourg played an important role in the Anglo French struggle
for hegemony in North America. For three decades after its founding
Louisbourg enjoyed peace and prosperity, though the threat of war
always hung over the fortified town.
In 1745 an army of New
Englanders, supported by an English naval squadron, captured Louisbourg
after a 46-day siege. The town was returned to the French by treaty.
Louisbourg was besieged again in 1758. The assault lasted seven weeks,
putting a combined English army and naval force of 27,000 against
7,000 French defenders (soldiers and sailors). In the end the French
stronghold and naval base fell again, opening the way for English
conquest of the rest of New France.
The cod fishery was the
foundation on which the economy of Louisbourg and Ile Royale (Cape
Breton) rested. Competition for fish stocks often led to international
rivalries hence the location of Fortress Louisbourg to protect the
French fishing fleet.
Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site
Louisbourg, Nova Scotia
Telephone: (902) 733-2280
Fax: (902) 733-2362
- Mallard Cottage
National Historic Site
Note: Mallard Cottage National Historic Site is in Quidi Vidi, Newfoundland.
This site predates the period commemorated at Grosse Ile as it dates
to the early years of the nineteenth century and therefore cannot
be considered as a direct link to the story as presented, but it does
focus on another aspect of Irish settlement in this country.
Built sometime between
1820 and 1840, this cottage was the home of the Mallard family who
settled in Quidi Vidi at the beginning of the 19th century. With its
low-hipped roof and the two-room, central chimney plan, it is typical
of houses built by the immigrants who came from southwest Ireland
to Newfoundland in the first half of the 19th century. The five-bay-facade,
with suggestions of classicism in its symmetry, is commonly found
in Newfoundland vernacular houses of the period. The building still
retains sections of its original beaded clapboard.
This site is a privately-owned
house although the owner currently runs a curio/antique shop in it.
2 Barrows Road,
Quidi Vidi, St. John's Nfld. A1A 1G8
- Partridge Island
National Historic Site
The City of Saint John
established as quarantine station on the island in 1830 in an effort
to prevent smallpox spreading from a ship carrying Irish immigrants.
Saint John was the principal port of arrival in New Brunswick during
the Irish immigration of the 1840s. In 1844 immigration to New Brunswick
was 2,605 people, but in 1847 the numbers had exploded to 16,251.
The station's medical and quarantine facilities were to prove inadequate
in containing contagious diseases. Consequently, epidemics often spread
from the island station to the mainland populace, the most devastating
being typus and cholera.
The cholera epidemic of
1854 was the last major immigrant-carried contagion of the 19th century.
This decline was largely due to the greater precautions taken at the
embarkation ports in the British Isles, the replacement of the sailing
vessels with steamships and the growing understanding of how contagion
spread. One of the pioneers of this understanding was Dr. Frederick
Montizambert who is commemorated at Grosse Isle. He also worked at
Partridge Island as the Medical Superintendent.
In the post-1854 period,
the facilities at Partridge Island were much more extensive than were
required. Immigration through Saint John was much smaller than through
Grosse Ile. The Canadian government took over the station in 1867
and operated it until 1941, when it was finally replaced by facilities
in Saint John.
City of Saint John
P.O. Box 1971
Saint John, N.B.
- St. Patrick's Basilica
National Historic Site, Montreal
St. Patrick's Basilica is an imposing stone structure located near
the southwest corner of Boulevard Rene-Levesque and rue Saint-Alexandre
in downtown Montreal. It was constructed 1843-1847 to serve the growing
Irish Catholic population of the city. St. Patrick's has been responsible
for the establishment of numerous charitable institutions for Anglophone
Catholics and is regarded as the mother church of some 35 English-speaking
Roman Catholic parishes in greater Montreal.
St. Patrick's has been
a conspicuous feature of the Montreal landscape both historically
and architecturally since its construction. Not only is it historically
important - it should be noted that the funeral of arguably its most
famous parishioner, Thomas D'Arcy McGee, the Irish-Canadian journalist,
politician and Father of Confederation, took place from the Basilica
- but the structure is also regarded as an early example of a Gothic
Revival Canadian church. This revival style was an echo of 13th century
French Gothic architecture.
In 1990, the HSMBC recommended
that the structure be designated as a National Historic Site on the
grounds of its architectural significance. Also now it is recognized
as a symbol of its Irish-Canadian community.
St. Patrick's Basilica
454-460 Boulevard Rene Levesque Ouest,