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Full text of "The Grosse-Isle Tragedy and the Monument to the Irish fever victims, 1847"

att& tlje 

jHonument to tfje Srtel) Jfeber 

1847 



REPRINTED, WITH ADDITIONAL INFORMATION AND ILLUSTRATIONS, FROM 
THE DAILY TELEGRAPH'S COMMEMORATIVE SOUVENIR, ISSUED ON 
THE OCCASION OF THE UNVEILING OF THE NATIONAL 
MEMORIAL ON THE 15TH AUGUST, 1909, INCLUDING 
A FULL ACCOUNT OF THE DEDICATORY 
CEREMONIES, SERMON, 
SPEECHES, ETC. 



By jr. S. Jorban 




Quebec 

Ipubliebcb and printed b? 

ele0ra|ilj |Jrintiujj Company 

B. D. l^ineteen fbun&refc an& fline 



REGISTERED according to the Act of Parliament, in the Office of the Minister of 

Agriculture, Ottawa, in the year 1909, by FRANK CARREL, President 

of the Telegraph Printing Co., of Quebec. 



J|0te 




iS the author and compiler of the Quebec Daily Telegraph's 
"Grosse Isle Monument Commemorative Souvenir", 
the undersigned desires to return sincere thanks for 
the widespread appreciation of his modest effort to 
enhance the eclat of so important an event, nationally and historic- 
ally, as the erection and dedication of a fitting monument to honor 
the memory of the unfortunate Irish Exiles of 1847, who succumbed 
to the terrible ship fever, and to recall the heroism of the clergy 
both Catholic and Protestant, who so nobly faced disease and death 
to minister to them in their dying struggles. 

Encouraged by the remarkable favor with which the "Souvenir" 
was received in all quarters at home and abroad and wishing to 
meet the continuous popular demand for further copies of it, which 
the original edition proved entirely insufficient to gratify, the 
Daily Telegraph Printing Company has, with commendable enterprise, 
decided to re-issue it, in handsome and enduring book form. The 
author has therefore availed himself of the opportunity to carefully 
revise the text and to make such additions to the work and its 
illustrations, including a complete account of the dedicatory cere- 
monies and speeches at Grosse Isle on the 15th August last, as 
will render it a precious memento of the occasion to every Irish 
home as well as a valuable and necessary adjunct to the historical 
collections in all public and private libraries. 

For so comprehensive and accurate a record of the terrible 
tragedy of 1847, the undersigned has no hesitation in respectfully 
bespeaking the general and hearty support of his Irish fellow 
countrymen and the appreciation of the public at large. 

J. A. JORDAN. 
Quebec, September, 1909. 



Page Three 





HON. CHAS. MURPHY 

Secretary of State for the Dominion of 

Canada 



HON. CHAS. R. DEVLIN 

Minister of Colonization and Mines in the 

Provincial Cabinet 





HON. JOHN C. KAINE 

Irish Catholic Representative in the 

Provincial Cabinet 



THOS. J. MURPHY 
President Quebec Division No. 1, A.O.H 




"There came to the beach a poor exile of Erin, 
The dew on his thin robe was heavy and chill." 

CAMPBELL. 

ME OBJECT of this Souvenir Number is to recall, on the occasion of 
the unveiling of the national monument to the Irish dead on Grosse 
Isle, who perished in the terrible famine and fever of 1847-48, the 
memories of one of the darkest, saddest and most trying episodes 
in the histories of the long suffering Irish race and of Canada, and 
at the same time to enhance as much as possible the national significance and 
eclat of the ceremony. 

In issuing it, the QUEBEC DAILY TELEGRAPH, which was the first to propose 
and advocate the erection of that monument as a national duty and which for 
almost twenty years has made it a labor of love to work for the success of a pro- 
ject so legitimately dear to every true Irish heart, as well as to many sympathiz- 
ers of other nationalities, has the proud satisfaction to see that labor at last re- 
warded and the crowning touch put to the great undertaking which it had the 
honor to initiate so long ago. It did so in order to remove from the Irish name 
the reproach of having so far forgotten the traditions of tne race as to threaten to 
leave forever unmarked by a fitting and enduring national memorial the last rest- 
ing place of so many thousands of the exiles and martyrs of the misrule of the 
unhappy Green Isle, who, during the awful famine and pestilence years, had fled in 
terror and despair to this section of the New World only to find a hideous grave 
on a lonely island in the St. Lawrence. It felt that the national honor and the 
national reputation for love and veneration for the memory of the heroic dead 
were involved in the realization of a project that aimed at rescuing a spot of such 
historic and hallowed importance from that neglect and decay which menaced it 
with the forgetfulness and disrespect of later generations. To mark it, therefore, 
by some suitable and lasting memento of the national sympathy and to keep it 
in proper and creditable order for the future seemed an imperative duty, which 
the Irish race in America more especially would not be true to themselves in longer 
overlooking, and the DAILY TELEGRAPH accordingly took up the cause with ardor. 
It was only natural that a Quebec paper should do this. Quebec was the 
port on the St. Lawrence which was the haven of refuge that the Irish exiles of 
1847 were first seeking and which lies nearest to Grosse Isle. A large proportion 
of the DAILY TELEGRAPH'S readers and friends were of Irish blood. Not a few of 
them had themselves passed through the fiery ordeals of the cholera, famine and 
fever years or were the immediate descendants of those who had done so. Que- 
bec, moreover, from its situation, had been in closer contact than any other centre 
with the terrible events and scenes that were enacted on the island during those 
trying times. It was in constant communication with their reeking hotbed which 
was at its very doors, and it was even itself afflicted with the awful scourges 
Page Five 



THE GROSSE-ISLE TRAGEDY 

which were committing such alarming havoc among the refugees from the famine 
and pestilence-stricken shores of poor Erin. Indeed, not a few of its own citizens 
and others had sickened and died from the contagion, which was brought into it 
by the good Samaritans, who nobly went to the physical and spiritual aid of the 
immigrant sufferers on the island, by the overflow of patients from the miserable 
shelters and so-called hospitals there, and by the seeming convalescents hurriedly 
discharged from the island only to scatter the fatal seeds of the malady far and 
wide wherever they went. Consequently, the remains of all the victims of 1847-48 
do not rest in Grosse Isle. Many of them found graves in Quebec, others in Mon- 
treal, and others again in Kingston, Toronto, Ottawa and other places, where 
their names and tombs are to-day wholly or almost entirely forgotten. But the 
ghastly hecatomb, which cries to Heaven for vengeance upon the misrule that 
produced it, was at Grosse Isle. That was the great Irish charnel-house of 1847 
and there the vast majority of the poor victims of the famine and pestilence closed 
their eyes forever to the light of the sun. No other place was, therefore, more 
appropriate for a proper and lasting national memento of so grini an episode in 
Irish and Canadian history. 

Twenty years ago, however, the DAILY TELEGRAPH'S appeal on the subject 
was necessarily made to the more or less local and limited auditory afforded by 
Quebec and its surroundings and to the rapidly dwindling Irish element of its 
population, who, however sympathetic otherwise, had neither sufficient means 
nor organization to carry the project to a successful issue. The result was that 
nothing practical came of it at the time or from its revival on various subsequent 
occasions. 

It would serve no good or useful present purpose to relate in detail the vary- 
ing phases of the movement in favor of the erection of the proposed monument 
and the causes which combined at different periods to delay it and even to so far 
imperil its success as to almost discourage many of its warmest promoters and 
sympathizers, who included from its earliest stages not only the DAILY TELEGRAPH 
and its many local Irish friends, but such prominent men as Sir Wilfrid Laurier, 
the Premier of the Dominion, Sir Charles Fitzpatrick, the present Chief Justice 
and Administrator of the Government of Canada, Hon. John Costigan, Dominion 
Senator, Sir Richard Scott, Canada's former Secretary of State, Hon. M. F. 
Hackett, ex-Provincial Secretary, and many other leading Irishmen and members 
of other nationalities in Quebec, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto and other parts of 
Canada and the neighboring republic. 

Suffice it to say that the question was confined to newspaper agitation until 
1897, when the fiftieth anniversary of the national calamity of 1847 occurred and 
when the Quebec branch of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, then under the 
presidency of our worthy friend, Mr. Patrick Kirwin, of the Quebec Legislature's 
official staff, and the chaplaincy of Revd. Father Maloney, C.SS.R., of St. 
Patrick's church, Quebec, but now of St. John, N.B., had the happy thought to 
commemorate it by a great religious and national pilgrimage to Grosse Isle to 

Page Six 




EX-ALDERMAN ED. REYNOLDS 

Founder of Quebec Division No. 1, A.O.H. 




GEORGE MULROONEY 

Of the firm of W. J. & G. Mulrooney, 
Quebec, who was Treasurer of the Quebec 
Division No. 1, A.O.H., in 1897, and who, 
as one of the ablest and most earnest advo- 
cates of the monument project, was also 
ono of the first, after the great national pil- 
grimage of that year, to propose that the 
Quebec Branch should take it up and carry 
it out. 




P. KIRWIN 

President Quebec Division No. 1, A.O.H., 
in 1897, when great national pilgrimage to 
Grosse Isle took place and when erection 
of national monument there by A.O.H. was 
first proposed. A strong supporter of the 
proposition. 




REV. MARTIN MALONEY, C.SS.R. 

Local Chaplain of Quebec Division No. 1, 
A.O.H., in 1897, and one of the fathers and 
most earnest advocates of the proposal after 
the national pilgrimage to Grosse Isle in 
that year, that the Quebec Division should 
take up or lead in the movement to erect a 
national monument there. 



THE GROSSE- ISLE TRAGEDY 

pray for the dead and to honor their memory. This afforded an opportunity to a 
great multitude, who had never before been on the ghastly scene, to see and note 
for themselves the utterly neglected, nationally unhonored and wholly discredit- 
able condition of the God's acre or ground in a secluded quarter of the island in 
which so many of their unfortunate kindred were sleeping in hideous common 
pits the long sleep that knows no waking in this world. To all the sight was 
extremely saddening, while to many it gave a shock of the most painful and even 
tearful surprise, and, in the case of so generous, warm-hearted and kin-loving a 
people as the Irish and one so famed for their affection and veneration for their 
martyred dead, the result can be easily surmised. The feeling in favor of the 
proposed monument and the removal of the national disgrace involved in the 
conditions at Grosse Isle at once became intense in Quebec, until the local branch 
of the Ancient Order rightfully resolved to give the movement greater cohesion 
and strength by taking up the question of the monument and endeavoring to solve 
it as a national one. 

And though it has taken twelve years more to bring about the happy solu- 
tion so long desired, none rejoices more than does the DAILY TELEGRAPH at the 
fact that, through the active instrumentality of the Quebec branch of the Ancient 
Order of Hibernians and with the patriotic co-operation of the supreme heads of 
the Order in the United States, as well as under the influential auspices of the 
National Board of that great national organization as a whole, the approaching 
1 5th of August will witness, in the unveiling and dedication of a fitting national 
memorial monument, together with the accompanying ceremonial and gathering, 
at Grosse Isle, the performance of a great national duty and the glorious consum- 
mation of a great national work which will not only reflect honor upon the Irish 
name in all America, but brine-- consolation to the hearts of the many descendants 
of the poor exiles of 1847 so widely scattered to-day throughout Canada and the 
United States 

For most precious and welcome aid in the compilation of this Souvenir, the 
DAILY TELEGRAPH is deeply and gratefully indebted to many sources, public and 
private, apart from the personal reminiscences of the writer, who, in his early 
days, while the events of '47 were yet comparatively fresh in the local mind, had 
the advantage of knowing or coming- into contact with many persons now deceased, 
who had been leading actors in or eye-witnesses of them. Directly from the lips 
of these, he heard much that left a most painful and lasting impression upon him. 
But he has not depended wholly upon his own recollections. All the known re- 
cords, official and otherwise, bearing upon the dreadful calamity of 1847, have 
been carefully examined, compared and drawn upon. These include the Canadian 
and Provincial archives, the statutes and journals of the Imperial Parliament and 
of the Legislatures and Parliaments of Canada and its different provinces before 
and since the Union, the Relations des Jesuites, the newspaper press of the time 
in Ireland, England, the United States, Canada, and especially in Quebec, 
O'Rourke's History of the Irish Famine, Maguire's History of the Irish in Amer- 
Page Seven 



THE GROSSE-ISLE TRAGEDY 

ica, Davin's Irishman in Canada, McCarthy's Irish Literature, Sullivan's New 
Ireland, Sir J. M. Lemoine's Quebec Past and Present, Chronicles of the St. Law- 
rence and other works, Bechard's History of Crane Island and the surrounding 
islands, Douglas' Old France in the New World, and La Revue Canadienne, 
together with such other well known writers on Canadian and Irish history, gen- 
ealogy, literature, etc., as Bibaud, Faillon, Ferland, Laverdiere, Casgrain, Bou- 
chette, Christie, Garneau, Suite, Tanguay, Tache, Bender, Mrs. Sadlier, D'Arcy 
McGee, etc., etc. Much help has also been received from letters still extant writ- 
ten by or to the celebrated Father McMahon, the founder of St. Patrick's Church, 
Quebec, and for many years its beloved pastor, as well as by and to other priests 
of that congregation during the Irish famine and pestilence years, some of whom 
were at Grosse Isle in 1847. Letters in the possession of the writer from the late 
Mr. M. F. Walsh, of Ottawa, formerly of Quebec, and at one time Secretary of the 
Managing Committee of St. Patrick's church, Quebec, have also been of great 
service, and the same may be said of the useful information so courteously placed 
at the DAILY TELEGRAPH'S disposal by the Abbe Lindsay, of the Archbishop's Pal- 
ace, Quebec, Mr. Phileas Gagnon, of the Archives Office, Quebec, Mr. Ernest 
Gagnon, former Secretary of the Provincial Department of Public Works, Dr. 
Montizambert, the official head of the Quarantine Service of Canada, and Dr. 
Martineau, the present Medical Superintendent of the Grosse Isle Station, as well 
as by a few of the remaining survivors of 1847 on that fateful island. To all 
these, the DAILY TELEGRAPH begs to return its warmest thanks. 

But our chief debt of gratitude is due to one who, we regret to say, has 
passed from amongst us forever and with whom the careful collection and preser- 
vation of all information relating to the Irish immigration to Canada, the events of 
1832, 1834 and 1847 at Grosse Isle, and the congregation of St. Patrick's Church, 
Quebec, of which he was so long a member, may be truly said to have been ever 
a labor of love. We refer to the late Mr. James M. O'Leary, of the Postmaster- 
General's Department, Ottawa, who died only a few years ago, but who was 
born and reared in Quebec amid surroundings that bred in him an intense love 
for poor Ireland and his honest, sterling Irish ancestry. At various times, during 
his career, Mr. O'Leary, who handled a most graceful and interesting pen, wrote 
and contributed to the columns of the QUEBEC DAILY TELEGRAPH, the London, 
Ont., Catholic Record, and the Ottawa press, many valuable sketches on Irish 
and Catholic subjects, with which he had been connected or was acquainted, but 
especially on the terrible events at Grosse Isle with which he had opportunities to 
be more conversant owing to his respected father's lengthy residence in Quebec 
and his prominence among the Irish Catholic element of its population. Thus in 
1892 and 1897 were published articles from his pen on the Irish Exodus and the 
Horrors of Grosse Isle in 1847, which practically contain everything worthy of note 
on the subject and which are unsurpassed in graphic delineation and fidelity to the 
awful truth. Therefore, the present occasion is an appropriate one not only to 
do honor to the memory of so devoted and so patriotic an Irish writer as Mr. 

Page Eight 





MATTHEW CUMMINGS 
National President A.O.H. 



MAJOR E. T. McCRYSTAL 
Member National Board, A.O.H. 





REV. JOHN D. KENNEDY 
Member National Board, A.O.H. 



C. J. FOY 

Member National Board. A.O.H. 



THE GROSSE-ISLE TRAGEDY 

J. M. O'l eary, but to recall the admirable work in the national cause he did so 
lovingly and well. The DAILY TELEGRAPH is also glad to have this opportunity 
to publicly thank his surviving younger brother, Mr. Thos. O'Leary, the well 
known guardian of that storehouse of antiquarian lore, the Chateau de Ramezay, 
Montreal, for his great kindness and courtesy in placing his deceased brother's 
papers and notes at our disposal for the purposes of this Souvenir. 

Ancient rfcer of Hibernians 

E Ancient Order of Hibernians, under whose auspices the Grosse Isle monu- 
ment has been erected, is probably one of the largest national organizations 
of its kind in the civilized world. Its ramifications extend nearly all over 
the globe wherever the widely scattered members of the Irish race are to be found. 
It is composed wholly of Irish Roman Catholics. The early history of the society 
is somewhat shrouded in mystery, but it is generally believed to be the direct suc- 
cessor of the society organized in the county of Kildare, in 1565. At that time 
religious persecution was raging in Ireland and the priests were hunted and not 
allowed to celebrate mass or other religious ceremonies. Under those circum- 
stances Rory Oge O'Moore established an organization known as "The Defend 
ers." 

The Defenders took measures to protect the priests against those who were 
seeking for their lives, and at the same time they did all in their power to help 
their countrymen to get through the difficult times that were then experienced in 
th^ Emerald Isle. Later on the Defenders went out of existence and were succeed- 
ed by the Ribbon men, and were known under various other names. They later be- 
came an oath-bound organization known as the Confederation of Kilkenny. 
This organization was founded in Kilkenny on the i4th October, 1642. Sir 
Phelim O'Neill was in charge of the Irish wing, made up of the Defenders. The 
English Catholics of Ireland, or Lords of the Pale, were under Lords Germans - 
town and Mountgarret. After the religious troubles had subsided, the Defenders 
continued their work in favour of the labourers and the farmers of the country 
whom they took under their protection and defended against the rapacious in- 
stincts of the agents of absentee landlords. In later years the organization be- 
came more pacific. A number of the old Defenders formed in England the first 
division of the great organization now known as the Ancient Order of Hibernians. 
The society grew and progressed in that country, and in a short time was firmly 
established in Ireland. The first organization in America took place in New 
York, in 1836, whence it spread all over the United States. 

The first divisions established in Canada were opened in Montreal on Novem- 
ber 2oth, 1892, and in Quebec on 22nd June, 1893. Since that date it has spread 
all over the Dominion. It has also branches in Australia, as well as in England 
and Ireland and America. 

The Order is controlled by a National Council or Board, a Provincial Council, 
County Councils and the officers of the several divisions. The affairs of the local 
divisions with a County President, Secretary and Treasurer form the County 
Board. The Provincial Board is made up of the officers of the County Councils, 
with a Provincial President and Secretary. 

The members of the Ancient Order of Hibernians in America was the title 

Page Nine 



THE GROSSE-ISLE TRAGEDY 

adopted for the organization in December, 1897. There had previously been some 
friction betwen the A.O.H. of America, Board of Erin, and the A.O.H. of the 
United States of America. The difficulties were submitted to His Lordship 
Bishop McFaul, of Trenton, and his decision was unanimously accepted by both 
branches of the organization. The convention of Trenton, held in 1898, supported 
this acceptance of the decision of Bishop McFaul. 

The convention held on that occasion also adopted certain amendments to 
the constitution of 1884. The Order declares that its intents and purposes are 
to promote friendship, unity and Christian charity among- its members, by raising 
or supporting a fund of money for maintaining the aged, sick, blind and infirm 
members, for the legitimate expenses of the Order and for no other purposes what- 
soever. The motto of the Order is "Friendship, Unity and Christian Charity." 

During the past twenty years, the A.O.H. and Ladies Auxiliary, have paid 
out for sick and funeral benefits, charitable donations to churches, schools and 
orphanages, relief of sufferers by famine in the West of Ireland, as well as by 
earthquakes, floods and other great disasters in the United States, aid to the 
Gaelic League in Ireland, the Grosse Isle Monument, &c., a grand total of $11,- 
803,302.00 for educational and charitable purposes. The total cost of the Grosse 
Isle monument $5,000 was defrayed out of the national or general treasury of 
the Order pursuant to unanimous vote of the National Convention of the A.O.H. 
held at Indianapolis in July, 1908. 

In connection with the several divisions are Ladies' Auxiliaries, Knight and 
Cadet Corps, etc. At the Catholic University of Washington there is a chair of 
Gaelic known as the A.O.H. Gaelic chair. The money for this purpose, amounting 
to $50,000, was subscribed by the members of the Order in the United States and 
Canada, and forwarded to the then National Chaplain of the organization, who 
was treasurer of the Chair Fund, Right Rev. John S. Foley, Bishop of Detroit. 

The supreme heads of the Order are the officers of the National Council, who 
are on this memorable occasion the following : 

National President Matthew Cummings. 
National Vice-President James T. Regan. 
National Treasurer John F. Quinn. 
National Secretary Jas. T. McGinnis. 

National Chaplain His Grace Archbishop O'Connell, of Boston. 
National Directors Rev. John D. Kennedy, P. T. Moran, Major E. T. 
McCrystal, C. J. Foy, Mayor of Perth, Ont., John J. O'Meara. 

The following are the present officers of Quebec Division No. i, A. O. H. : 

County President J. Gallagher. 

President T. J. Murphy. 

Vice-President P. Ward. 

Provincial Chaplain Rev. A. E. Maguire. 

Recording Secretary P. Brown. 

Financial Secretary W. Egan. 

Treasurer J. Shields. 

Chairman of Standing Committee J. W. McDermott. 

Sergeant-at-Arms R Hartley. 

Sentinel J. Brown. 



Page Ten 





HIS EXCELLENCY MGR. SBARETTI 
Papal Delegate to Canada 



HIS GRACE LOUIS NAZAIRE BEGIN 
Archbishop of Quebec 





REV. A. EUSTACE MAGUIRE 
Provincial Chaplain, A.O.H. 



REV. FATHER HANLEY, C.SS.R. 
Present Pastor of St. Patrick's, Quebec 



THE GROSSErlSLE TRAGEDY 

Rational jWemortal 

"Tear down the crape from the column, 
Let the shaft stand white and fair." 

S STATED, the ceremony of the unveiling and dedication of the national mem- 
orial monument, which is the fruit of the patriotic movement referred to 
and which is to fittingly ma.k for future generations the last resting place 
of the Irish martyrs of '47 at Grosse Isle, is fixed to take place on Sunday, the 
1 5th August, than which, apart from the sanctity of the day itself, both as the 
Lord's Day and as the Feast of the Assumption, no better or more appropriate 
date could be selected. The glory of the Canadian summer and the beauty of the 
Canadian scenery, especially along the St. Lawrence, will then be in all their full- 
ness. But fond Irish hearts will above all recall that this was the period of the 
sadly memorable year when the awful harvest of death among their kindred 
reached its apogee on the lonely island. 

A most desirable opportunity will thus be afforded not only to visit the terrible 
Golgotha of the Irish race in America and to do honor to the memory of the dead 
by taking part in the dedication ceremony, but also to enjoy the charms of Cana- 
dian scenery and the cool, invigorating breezes of the great Northern river at a 
season when these aie most welcome. Quaint, historic, picturesque old Quebec 
is easily and speedily reached by rail or boat frpm all parts of Canada and the 
United States and a pleasant two hours' sail on fine river steamers will bring the 
visitors to the island. Consequently a vast gathering of the members of the race 
especially, from both countries, is looked for there on the coming i5th August, 
when all will in truth be able to re-echo the words of the old song 

''Deep in Canadian woods we've met, 
From one bright island flown; 
Great is the land we tread, but yet 
Our hearts are with our own." 

As befitting a national memento of so melancholy an episode in the history 
of the Irish race, the great monument is a truly national one. It is in the form 
of a tall, free-standing Celtic cross, of which so many noble specimens still dot the 
surface in many places of holy Ireland and date back to the early ages of Chris- 
tianity in the Green Isle. Petrie, in his interesting work on the Antiquities of 
Ireland, speaks of these crosses as erected both for sepulchral and dedicatory pur- 
poses. Their chief merit lies in the fact that they are essentially Irish in origin, 
design and execution. Nowhere else in the homes of the Celtic race are they to be 
found in such beauty and profusion as amid the ruins of the old abbeys, monas- 
teries, churches and graveyards of Erin. Although the ruthless hand of the 
spoiler and of time was laid heavily upon many of them, happily enough of them 
are still left on the old sod to preserve their beautiful type and to show the won- 
derful taste and skill of the original Irish designers and craftsmen. 

"Through storm, and fire, and gloom. I see it stand, 

Firm, broad and tall 
The Celtic Cross that marks our Fatherland, 

Amid them all! 



Page Eleven 



THE G R O S \S E - I S L E TRAGEDY 



Druids, and Danes, and Saxons, vainly rage 

Around its base; 
It standeth shock on shock and age on age, 

Star of a scatter'd race. 
"O Holy Cross! dear symbol of the dread 

Death of our Lord, 
Around thee long have slept our martyr-dead 

Sward over sward! 
A hundred bishops I myself can count 

Among the slain; 
Chiefs, captains, rank and file, a shining mount 

Of God's ripe grain." 

It was eminently befitting, too, that the task of .producing the memorial 
should have been entrusted to men of Irish blood and of such artistic taste and 
mechanical skill as the enterprising firm of Fallen Bros., of Cornwall, Ont., who, 
with the whole race, have every reason to be proud of their noble creation and 
handiwork, from designs prepared by Mr. J. Gallagher, one of the founders and 
leading members of the Quebec branch of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, as 
well as one of Quebec's chief civil engineers and head of its water works depart- 
ment. Standing on Telegraph Hill, the most elevated point on the island, where 
it occupies a site of 150 feet square, and overlooking the graves of the Irish dead 
near its western shore, the monument, which is composed of grey Stanstead 
granite, rises to a further height of 46 feet 6 inches, so that its total altitude above 
the level of the river is 140 feet, making it a most conspicuous and striking object 
in a landscape having as its foreground the sparkling waters of the St. Lawrence 
and for a background the dark ramparts of Cape Tourmente and the Laurentian 
mountains, and rendering it visible for miles up and down the river. 

The pedestal is also of granite. The dimensions of the lower base are 15 
feet by 13.4 by 2 feet; of the next base, 13 feet by 10. 10 by 2 feet; of the die, 9 
feet by 8.4 by 8 feet, and of the plinth, 8 feet by 7.2 by 5 feet. 

The shaft and cross stand 29 feet 6 inches high and the arms are 8 feet in 
length, the top of the cross being 2 feet 6 inches square. As usual, in the case 
of all Celtic crosses, the symbol of the Christian faith at the summit is enclosed 
within a ring or circle of the same material, binding as it were the shaft, arms 
and upper portion of the cross together, the spaces between the intersecting arms 
being pierced and the whole sculpture thus forming the cross. 

The panels on which the inscriptions are carved are of dark ebony. There 
are four of these panels, one on each face of the pedestal. On three of them is 
the following inscription in Gaelic, English and French respectively. The Eng- 
lish and French inscriptions are appended : 

"Sacred to the memory of thousands of Irish emigrants, ivho, to preserve the 

faith, suffered hunger and exile in 1847-48. and, stricken with 

fever, ended here their sorrowful pilgrimage." 

"Erected by the Ancient Order of Hibernians in America, and dedicated Feast of 

the Assumption, 1909. 

"Thousands of the children of the Gael were lost on this island while fleeing from 
foreign tyrannical laws and an artificial famine in the years 184*7-1848. 

"Goo BLESS THEM. 

Page Twelve 




OLD MONUMENT, GROSSE-ISLE 



THE GROSSE-ISLE TRAGEDY 

"This stone was erected to their memory and in honor of them by the Gaels of 

America. 

"Goo SAVE IRELAND!" 



"A la pieuse memoire de milliers d 'emigres Irlandais qui, pour garder la foi, 

souffrirent la faim et I'exile et, victimes de la fievre, finirent id leur 

douleureux pelerinage, consoles et fortifies par le pretre 

Canadien." 
"Ceux qui sement dans les larmes moissonneront dans la joie. Ps. xxv.-5. 

The fourth panel or memorial tablet contains the names of the devoted 
Roman Catholic priests who ministered to the sick and dying on the island during 
the terrible typhus visitation of 1847-48, those of the reverend gentlemen who 
were stricken down by the fever, but who recovered, being distinguished by an 
asterisk or star, and those among them who died from it, martyrs to their char- 
ity and zeal, by two stars, as follows : 

Revd. Messrs. *William Wallace Moylan ; ^Bernard McGauran ; James C. Mc- 
Devitt ; *Pierre Telesphore Sax ; James Nelligan ; Celestin Zephirin Rousseau ; 
*Antoine Campeau ; *Jos. Bailey ; Leon Provancher ; *Michel Forgues ; Thomas 
Caron ; *Narcisse Belanger ; Louis Antoine Proulx ; *Hugh McGuirk ; *James 
McDonnell ; *Luc Trahan ; ^Philippe Honore Jean ; J. B. Antoine Ferland ; Jean 
Harper; Bernard O'Reilly; Louis Adolphe Dupuis ; J. Bte. Perras ; Moise Duguay ; 
Maxime Tardif; Michael Kerrigan; John Caulfield O'Grady ; *Elzear Aiexandre 
Taschereau ; *Edward John Horan ; Pierre Beaumont ; Etienne Payment : Etienne 
Halle ; Jos. Hercule Dorion ; *Charles Tardif ; Antoine Lebel ; Prisque Gariepy ; 
William Dunn; Godfroy Tremblay ; Ls. Stanislas Malo; **Hubert Robson; 
**Pierre Roy; **Hugh Paisley; **Michael Power; **Felix Severin Bardy; 
**Edouard Montminy. 

Father Hugh Paisley, who was of Scotch descent, was not among the priests 
at Grosse Isle, but caught the disease while attending fever patients in Quebec 
and died there. 

Of all this band of heroic Roman Catholic priests, only one now survives in 
the person of the venerable Father Hugh McGuirk, who is still living (retired 
from the active ministry) in the Hotel-Dieu of Chatham, N.B., at the advanced 
age of 96 years. Father McGuirk was expected to have been present at the dedi- 
cation of the monument at Grosse Isle on the i5th August, but at the last moment 
the dear old man found himself unable physically to undertake the fatigue of the 
journey from his home in New Brunswick, and the celebration at the island there- 
fore lacked through his absence one of its most interesting figures. 

(Efje Celebration at <&ro#se=Me 

ITH favorable weather and other conditions, there is no doubt that the 
ceremony and gathering at Grosse Isle on the memorable occasion of the 
unveiling and dedication of the monument will be among the grandest 
and most imposing in Canadian as in Irish annals. As a great national and re- 
ligious demonstration in honor of the martyred dead of the race, as a public ex- 
pression of faith and of the national sympathy for the unfortunate exiles and 
victims of 1847 on the very spot hallowed for all time by their unparalleled suffer- 

Page Thirteen = 



THE GROSSE-ISLE TRAGEDY 

ings and the melancholy deaths of so many of their number and as a prayerful 
and affectionate tribute of their descendants and kindred to their memory, the 
celebration of the i5th August promises to be as impressive as it will be unique. 
It will bring together a vast crowd of representatives of the widely scattered Irish 
race from all parts, but especially from Canada and the United States, besides 
many members of other races whose exalted positions, whose sympathies or whose 
claims upon the affection and respect of the Irish people entitle them to the places 
of honor at a manifestation of the kind alike religious and national. 

The official invitations to be present and take part in the celebration embrace 
a wide range of distinguished personages. They include many of the leading 
public notabilities of Canada and the United States Sir Wilfrid Laurier, the 
Prime Minister of the Dominion, and his colleagues of the Canadian Cabinet, Sir 
Lomer Gouin, the Premier, and members of the Quebec Provincial Government, 
among whom there are two Irish Catholics in the persons of Hon. Chas. R. Dev- 
lin, Minister of Colonization, Mines and Fisheries, (formerly a member of the 
Irish Nationalist party and member for Galway in the British Parliament), and 
Hon. John C. Kaine, member for Quebec West, and Minister without portfolio, 
Sir Chas. Fitzpatrick, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, Hon. Chas. 
Murphy, Canada's Secretary of State, besides other noted representative men of 
the Dominion and its different provinces, as well as of the United States, many 
of whom are Irish or of Irish extraction. On the other hand, the religious ele- 
ment will be represented by His Excellency Mgr. Sbaretti, the Papal Delegate 
to Canada, should he have returned in time from Europe, whither he has actually 
gone to see the Holy Father on business connected with the Church, and by His 
Grace the Archbishop of Quebec, accompanied by his Coadjutor, His Lordship 
Bish'op Roy, and all the Monsignori of the Archiepiscopal Court of Quebec, as 
well as by other distinguished members of the Canadian and American hierarchies. 

In grateful remembrance of the great sympathy and valuable services shown 
by the kindly French Canadian people and their devoted clergy to the poor Irish 
exiles and orphans of 1847, the officers of the St. Jean Baptiste Society .of Que- 
bec and Montreal, which is the great national society of French Canada, have also 
been specially invited to attend, and their participation in the ceremony with their 
chief ecclesiastical dignitaries will serve not only to fittingly recall the heroic and 
generous role played by that people and clergy during the terrible ordeal of that 
fatal year, but to remind Irishmen that after all blood should be thicker than 
water and that the French-Canadians are not only bound to them by the ties of a 
common faith and the memories of a patriotic and friendly past beyond the Atlan- 
tic, but that they are largely descendants from the same original stock the grand 
old Celtic race to which they are so proud to belong. 

Naturally, the Ancient Order of Hibernians, as the chief organizers and pro- 
moters of the whole affair, will be strongly represented and occupy the most con- 
spicuous place in the celebration. Besides the supreme national heads of the 
great association, numerous contingents of the officers and members of its differ- 
ent sections and branches in many parts of Canada and the United States are 
coming to take part in it. Foremost among these will be the officers, local chap- 
lain, (Father Barrett, C.S.S..R. ), and members of the Quebec branch, upon 
whom has fallen the chief burthen of the work of organization. In addition, the 
branches of Quebec, Montreal, Ottawa, St. John, N.B. , and Halifax, will grace 
the ceremony and impart greater eclat to it by the presence of their uniformed 
knight or cadet corps. The Ottawa and Montreal brethren have chartered spe- 

Page Fourteen 



THE GROS : SE_-ISLE TRAGEDY 

cial boats of their own to convey themselves and their friends from Quebec to 
Grosse Isle, but besides these there will be ample steamboat accommodation at 
Quebec to transport all others to and from the island. The Quebec branch has 
retained for the purpose a number of fine river boats, including- the Pilot, Queen. 
L'Etoile, St. Croix, and one of the splendid vessels of the Richelieu & Ontario 
Navigation Co. 's Saguenay line, while the Dominion Government has further 
generously placed the Government steamship Druid at the disposal of the Order 
for the use of the official guests. Thus all danger from overcrowding will be 
obviated and careful precautions will also be taken, moreover, to see that no such 
thing shall happen on any boat. 

The different steamers will leave Quebec at or shortly after 9 a.m., so as to 
reach Grosse Isle about n a.m., when the crowd as they land will form into pro- 
cession and headed by the Knights and Cadets with their banners draped in 
mourning and their bands, the national heads of the Order, the officers and mem- 
bers of the branches represented, and the ecclesiastical, civil and national digni- 
taries, march to the cemetery, which is the last resting place of the dead of 1847 
and which is immediately overlooked from Telegraph Hill by the great Celtic 
cross forming the national memorial and awaiting unveiling. 

In the cemetery itself, on the very spot where the final scenes in the terrible 
tragedy of 1847 were enacted and where the eye can still after sixty-two years 
trace the outlines of the ghastly trenches in which the unfortunate victims were 
buried, the holy sacrifice of the mass will be offered up for the eternal repose of 
their souls, in the presence of the great assemblage of guests, priests and people, 
on an altar specially erected for the purpose in the open air, on either side of 
which stands and seats will be provided for the accommodation of the official 
guests and other distinguished personages present. In view of the lateness of 
the hour at which the island will be reached and the length of the religious cere- 
monial, the requiem mass will be a low mass, but marked by all the solemnity of 
the Roman Catholic ritual and enhanced by band accompaniment and the singing 
of a special choir of 100 trained voices under the leadership of Mr. Ed. A. Bat- 
terton, from the congregation of St. Patrick's, Quebec, whose devoted pastor, 
Rev. Father Hanley, and assistants of the Redemptorist Order, as well as the 
Christian Brothers in charge of St. Patrick's School, have also been specially 
invited to attend as guests of the Ancient Order on the occasion. The sermon of 
the day will be preached by the Provincial Chaplain of the Order, Rev. Father 
Eustace Maguire, the respected rector of the important parish of St. Columba o( 
Sillery, near Quebec, which has for long years been the home of a considerable 
Irish population, not a few of whom are descended from the exiles of 1847. A 
descendant himself of the princely family of the Maguires of Fermanagh, Father 
Maguire possesses exceptional claims upon Irish sympathy in the connection 
as a patriotic Irishman and as the nephew of Father Horan, one of the de- 
voted young Irish priests, who so heroically responded to the call to minister to 
the sick and dying of his race at Grosse Isle and who afterwards became Bishop 
of Kingston, Ont. ; as the brother of another worthy priest, now dead, the late 
Father John E. Maguire, who in after years served as a resident missionary on 
the island ; and lastly as the son of an Irishman of distinction in the annals of old 
Quebec, the late Judge Maguire, of the Superior Court of the Province of Quebec. 
Finally the religious ceremonies will be brought to an end with the solemn chant- 
ing of the Libera by His Grace the Archbishop of Quebec and choir. Father 
Hanley, of St. Patrick's, will officiate at the requiem mass. 

Then the gathering will adjourn to Telegraph Hill close by for the unveiling 

Page Fifteen 



THE 



GROSSE-ISLE 



TRAGEDY 



of the monument which will be solemnly performed by His Excellency :he Pap~l 
Delegate, if present, or by His Grace of Quebec, in his absence, and after which 
appropriate and eloquent addresses will be delivered by Mr. Matthew Cummings, 
the National President of the Order, Major McCrystal, National Director (who 
will speak in Gaelic), Sir Charles Fitzpatrick, Chief Justice of Canada, Hon. Chas. 
Murphy, Dominion Secretary of State, Hon. Chas. R. Devlin and others, including 
probably also, Hon. L. A. Taschereau, Minister of Public Works in the Quebec 
Government, and a nephew of the late Cardinal Taschereau, one of the Grosse 
Isle missionaries of 1847. 

With these, the memorable celebration on the island will terminate and the 
boats will return to Quebec with their passengers. 




Page Sixteen 



anb 



Far from their own beloved isle 

Those Irish exiles sleep, 

And dream not of historic past, 

Nor o'er its memories weep; 

Down where the blue St. Lawrence tide 

Sweeps onward wave on wave, 

They lie old Ireland's exiled dead 

In cross-crowned lonely grave. 

Sleep on, O hearts of Erin, 

From earthly travail free! 

Our freighted souls still greet you 

Beyond life's troubl'd sea : 

In every Irish heart and home, 

Is built an altar to your faith 

A cross above each mound. 

No more the patriot's words will cheer 

Your humble toil and care 

No more your Irish hearts will tell 

The beads of evening prayer; 

The mirth that scoffed at direst want 

Lies buried in your grave, 

Down where the blue St. Lawrence tide 

Sweeps onward wave on wave. 

O, toilers in the harvest field, 

Who gather golden grainl 

O, pilgrims by the wayside, 

Who succor grief and pain! 

And ye, who know that liberty 

Oft wields a shining blade, 

Pour forth your souls in requiem prayer 

Where Irish hearts are laid! 

Far from their own beloved land 

Those Irish exiles sleep, 

Where dreams nor faith crown'd shamrock, 

Nor ivies o'er them creep; 

But fragrant breath of maple 

Sweeps on with freedom's tide, 

And consecrates the lonely isle 

Where Irish exiles died! 

O'HAGAN. 

SOUVENIR of Grosse Isle and of the frightful affliction of 1847 to Ire- 
land, to Canada and to humanity at large would not be complete 
without some reference to the history of an island, which evokes 
so many ghastly and saddening memories that even to-day, after 
a lapse of sixty-two years, the beholder still shudders at the sight 
of this Golgotha of the Irish race in America and at the recollec- 
tion of the horrors and the appalling sum of human agony and 
grief which it witnessed. Yet there is nothing otherwise repellant about it or its 

Page Seventeen - - - - - 




THE GROSSE-ISLE TRAGEDY 

general aspect when viewed from the deck of a passing vessel. It is a pretty 
enough little forest and verdure clad island, about three miles long and scarcely 
one wide, indented with bays and situated in the open channel of the St. Lawrence, 
33 miles below Quebec. It forms one of the many similar islands, which stud the 
miles below Quebec. It forms one of the many similar islands, which stud the 
bosom of the mighty river of Canada on its way to the sea. Its surface is gener- 
ally rocky and picturesque, still nicely wooded, with patches of cultivated land 
between, dotted with the neat, well kept buildings of a Canadian Government 
quarantine station of the present day, over which floats the flag of the Dominion. 
To look at it now sleeping peacefully on the surface of the wave, it would never 
be dreamt that it was once the scene of such a grim tragedy and such an awful 
hecatomb. 

The name "Grosse Isle" means "Big Island," but, according to so eminent 
an authority as Dr. Montizambert, for many years the medical superintendent 
of the quarantine station there, and at present the official head of the entire quar- 
antine service of the Dominion, this is a corruption of "Isle de Grace," or Grace 
Island, under which title it was designated on old French charts. And this 
appears to be likely, too, for Grosse Isle is not the biggest island of the group 
in that neighbourhood to which it belongs. 

Nothing very definite is known of the history of the island in the early days 
of the French colony, except that it appears to have been included in a territorial 
grant made by the King of France in 1646 to Governor de Montmagny, one of the 
first viceroys of New France. In this grant, it is not specially named, but there 
is hardly any doubt that it was embraced in it, as the royal patent covers Crane 
and Goose Islands close at hand "and all the surrounding islands, islets and 
beaches." In those days, these were the resort of myriads of wild geese, ducks 
and other water fowl and as old Governor de Montmagny was an ardent sports- 
man, he probably secured and retained the property as a game preserve for his 
own use and that of his friends. After de Montmagny, it seems to have passed 
through different hands, as we find mentioned, in connection with its ownership 
under the seigniorial tenure, the names of such old French noble families as the 
de Grandvilles, de Tourvilles, LeMoynes, Dupuys and de Beaujeus. One of these 
last, Lienard de Beaujeu, was a brother of the celebrated de Beaujeu, who de- 
feated the English General Braddock at Fort Duquesne, where Pittsburg, Ohio, 
now stands. 

After De Montmagny, too, settlement began on some of the adjacent islands 
and especially on Crane Island, but Grosse Isle remained in its primaeval state. 
It is still a tradition among the French-Canadian inhabitants of Crane Island 
that the fierce Iroquois, in one of their raids upon the French settlements, pene- 
trated to that island, slaughtering and burning all before them and even pursuing 
to Grosse Isle the few stragglers who had escaped and taken refuge there. An- 
other tradition among them is that a well-known family still on Crane Island are 
the descendants -f an English lad, captured by the Canadian Indians in one of 
their retaliatory forays upon the New England colonies and adopted by one of 
the then settlers on that island, who gave him the name of "L'Anglais" or 
Langlois (the Englishman), by which the posterity of this boy captive are still 
known there. 

But the most curious and romantic tradition of all still extant in Grosse Isle 
and its neighbourhood and referred to by Sir J. M. Lemoine in his "Legendary 
Lore of the Lower St. Lawrence," relates to an unknown individual, supposed to 
have been a French officer of exalted rank who in the early days, with his little 

Page Eighteen 




OLD CEMETERY, GROSSE-ISLE. WHERE VICTIMS OF 1847 ARE BURIED 




QUARANTINE STATION AND BUILDINGS, GROSSE-ISLE 



THE GROSSE. -ISLE TRAGEDY 

son, took up his abode on one of the small adjacent islands, built for himself a 
castle or strongly fortified mansion upon it, and lived like a hermit there until he 
died, without ever revealing- his identity. 

Again, under British rule, the seigniory originally granted to De Montmagny 
appears to have passed through different hands, until it reached those of one 
Daniel McPherson, a Scotch gentleman and a United Empire Loyalist, who had 
formerly resided in Philadelphia at the breaking out of the American revolution 
and who had fled to Canada after the war. From the McPhersons it finally passed 
back by will to the LeMoyne family in the person of McPherson LeMoyne, a 
descendant of both, who still holds it and who is a near relative of Sir James 
Macpherson LeMoyne, the venerable historian of Quebec, and author of Maple 
Leavos, Chronicles of the St. Lawrence, etc., etc. But long before this, Grosse 
Isle had become detached from the seigniory by sale to others. 

In 1832, Grosse Isle suddenly jumped into the unenviable notoriety by which 
it has ever since been distinguished. In the spring of that year, in anticipation of 
an invasion of the Asiatic cholera, which had reached Europe and extended even to 
England in 1831, the Imperial authorities summarily took possession of it to use 
it as a lazaretto or quarantine. Accordingly a military force consisting of two 
companies of infantry and a detachment of the royal artillery and several sur- 
geons was sent down to occupy it under the command of Captain Reid, of the 
32nd Regiment, who was also appointed commandant of the island. At this 
time, one Bernier, a notary of Chateau Richer, on the mainland not far distant, 
claimed to be its owner and to have sub-leased it to one Duplain, who had cleared 
and put under tillage some of the land on it. Bechard, in his history, pretends 
that there was a regular four years' lease of the island between Bernier and the 
British Government and that, on the expiry of this lease, the latter purchased the 
island from him, but this seems to be disproved by the petitions presented both 
by Bernier and Duplain to the Legislative Assembly of Lower Canada in 1835, 
complaining that His Majesty's Government had taken possession of their pro- 
perty without their consent or authority and without any indemnity whatever to 
them, and pray in P- to be compensated for the loss and damage which they had 
thereby sustained. Duplain further set forth that he had not only been dispos- 
sessed, forced to abandon his lease and eventually driven off the island, but that 
some of the soldiers had been billeted upon him, while the others lived in tents. 
The result of these petitions was that an act was passed for the indemnifying of 
Bernier and Duplain and the purchase of the island, the amount to be decided by 
valuators or arbitrators. But, for some reason or other, this arbitration seems 
never to have been held, or any sum ever paid to Bernier or Duplain or their 
descendants. If there was, there appears to be no record of it. 

Before 1832 there had been a quarantine or rather an apology for one, near 
Levis, on the south shore of the St. Lawrence, opposite Quebec, but the then 
Governor-General, Sir James Kempt, and the Medical Board of the city of Quebec, 
insisted that in the case of so "awful a pestilential disease" as the cholera, it was 
extremely dangerous to maintain a lazaretto so near the city and accordingly, upon 
the advice of Commander Bayfield, of the Royal Navy, Grosse Isle was selected 
as the most eligible place for its successor. It is worthy of note that the policy 
since adopted by Great Britain in the connection was foreshadowed in 1832 by 
Dr. Roberts, a member of the Quebec Medical Board, who differed from his col- 
leagues, contending that there need not be the slightest apprehension of cholen 
possessing any contagious properties and who opposed as useless and unnecessary 
the establishment and enforcement of strict and lengthened quarantine regulations 



Page Nineteen 



THE GROS:SE-IS'LE TRAGEDY 

in or near the port of Quebec, but evidently he was the only one on the board who 
held this opinion at the time, for, in spite of his opposition, Grosse Isle became a 
quarantine station. 

And just here it may be well to correct the very common error that the dread- 
ful typhus or ship fever was first imported into this country by the Irish exiles of 
1847. The "Relations des Jesuites" state that, under the French, in 1659, nearly 
two hundred years before, typhus broke out on a French vessel called the "Saint- 
Andre," which had on board three nuns, two priests and one hundred and thirty 
French emigrants bound for Quebec and Montreal, that ten of these died on the 
passage, that four more were landed at Quebec sick with the deadly malady, 
and that the contagion spread from them among the residents, among whom it 
made many victims, including Father de Quen, who had, like many other devoted 
priests, fallen a voluntary martyr to duty in ministering to the dying. As will be 
seen, therefore, not many were added to the population of the struggling French 
colony by the one hundred and thirty immigrants who had sailed from France on 
the "Saint-Andre," for of these some had died on shipboard and others had landed 
only to occupy a narrow bed in the little cemetery near the top of Mountain Hill in 
Quebec, or the Hotel Dieu graveyard, while not a few of the old inhabitants of the 
town also succumbed. 

But, to return to 1832, one of the first acts of the military force on the island 
was to place an i8-pounder cannon en barbette and two i2-pounders on the flag 
staff battery to stop all incoming vessels and compel them to undergo quarantine, 
if necessary. These guns are still in position and for some years the quarantine 
staff on the island was drilled as a half battery to man them, until the armory was 
burned in 1877. 

Although the military power retained the supreme control of the island until 
1857 when the military force, under Lieut. Noble, of the Royal Artillery, was 
withdrawn and the station was regularly transferred to the Canadian Government, 
tradition has it that the upsetting of a boat by the soldiers rowing the surgeon 
back from inspecting a vessel had long before led to the first introduction of the 
civilian element on the island by the appointment of six efficient boatmen from 
Crane Island, who lived together at Grosse Isle, their wives being permitted to 
visit them during one day in each month to wash their clothes. Military surgeons 
being also apparently too scarce at that time to be spared, Dr. Poole, a civilian, 
was appointed medical superintendent, with Dr. George M. Douglas, the father of 
the present Admiral Douglas, of the British Navy, as his assistant. After a few 
years Dr. Douglas succeeded Dr. Poole as medical superintendent, and Dr. Von 
Iffland, father of the present Canon Von Iffland, of Quebec, became his assistant. 
Dr. Von Iffland succeeded Dr. Douglas about 1864, an< ^ was m turn succeeded by 
his assistant, Dr. Montizambert, in 1869, the latter retaining the important office 
until 1898-99, when he was promoted to the position of Director-General of Public 
Health and moved to Ottawa, beine replaced at Grosse Isle by the present incum- 
bent, Dr. G. E. Martineau, who has given the country a most satisfactory service 
during the past eleven years. Born in Quebec in July, 1867, he was also educated 
there, taking his medical course at Laval University, from which he obtained his 
degree in 1892. He also visited Europe twice to perfect himself in his profession 
and spent months there with that object. He has as his assistant, Dr. W. W. 
Aylen, of Montreal, and a working staff of forty-three employees. 

As may be imagined, Canada was but poorly prepared to face the terrible 
cholera epidemics of 1832 and 1834. A few miserable wooden sheds had been 
hurriedly put up on Grosse Isle and converted into hospitals for the sick, most 

Page Twenty 




QUARANTINE WHARF, GROSSE-ISLE 




R. C. CHURCH AND PRESBYTERY, GROSSE-ISLE 



THE GROSS E-ISLE TRAGEDY 

of whom, however, had to be sheltered in tents, while a small temporary wharf or 
stage was built as a landing place. The horrors of the situation were, therefore, 
great, aggravated as they were also by inadequate attendance and other draw- 
backs and evils more or less incidental to all new establishments of the kind in a 
new and inexperienced country and by the virulence and fierceness of the disease. 
Under the circumstances, the death roll on the island was heavy, especially in 
1832, and the epidemic extended to Quebec, Montreal and other parts of Canada, 
where poor humanity fell before it like grass before the scythe of the mower. 

The first buildings erected on the island in 1832 were all, with one excep- 
tion, which was used as a farm residence, located on the upper point of the island. 
Those in the lower and centre parts of the island, chiefly date from 1847. In 
1878 three of the largest of these were destroyed by an accidental fire and many 
of the quarantine records were lost, but enough remain to show that in 1832 
no less than 51,146 immigrants were examined at Grosse Isle and 30,935 during 
the second cholera outbreak in 1834. Of the latter number, 264 died. 

The first chapels on the island, both Roman Catholic and Protestant, were 
also erected in 1832. In fact, from the opening of the quarantine, spiritual con- 
solation for the sick and dying there appears to have been well provided for. 
Among the names at least of the Roman Catholic missionary priests stationed and 
resident there during the summer season, from 1832 to 1847, may be found those 
of Fathers O'Dwyer, Dunn, Harkin (afterwards rector of Sillery), Huot (St. 
Foy), Belleau, Fortier, Griffiths, Frechette, Dowling, Moylan and Beaubien. 

To-day Grosse Isle constitutes a separate and distinct R. C. canonical parish 
under the name of St. Luke, with a resident parish priest there all the year round, 
the present one, who is the second, being Rev. J. B. Derome. 

Such is the history of the island where in 1847 scenes of horror and desola- 
tion were witnessed which, to use the words of the Most Reverend Joseph Signai, 
then Archbishop of Quebec, "almost stagger belief and baffle description." 



Page Twenty -One 



CHAPTER 



$recursior$ of tfre Crageop 




"And when I looked, behold a hand was sent unto 
me; and, lo, a roll of a book was therein. 

"And he spread it before me, and it was written 
within and without; and there was written therein, 
lamentations and mournings, and woe." 

EZEKIEL. 

ET there were many precursors and forewarning^ of the approach- 
ing tragedy which should not have been overlooked or misread 
by the authorities on both sides of the .Atlantic. Coming events 
were casting their shadows before in a way that brooked neither 
misconception of their terrible significance, nor procrastination in 
preparing to meet them. Nevertheless the advent of the crisis 
revealed so much wrongheadedness, as well as such a lack of ordinary foresight, 
preparedness and in some quarters even of good will as to be positively criminal 
and to fully justify the remark of Lord Sydenham that "to throw starving and 
diseased paupers under the rock at Quebec ought to have been punishable as 
murder." 

Of all the accounts published in regard to the conditions which led up to the 
catastrophe of 1847, one of the fairest and best is that given by A. M. Sullivan 
in his "New Ireland." Says this eminent writer: 

"In 1841 the population of Ireland was 8,175,124 souls. By 1845 ^ na< * 
probably reached to nearly nine millions. The increase had been fairly continuous 
for at least a century, and had become rapid between 1820 and 1840. To any one 
looking beneath the surface the condition of the country was painfully precarious. 
Nine millions of a population living at best in a light-hearted and hopeful hand-to- 
mouth contentment, totally dependent on the hazards of one crop, destitute of 
manufacturing industries (which had been either proscribed by English law or 
killed out by favored English competition), and utterly without reserve or re- 
source to f-11 back upon in time of reverse, what did all this mean but a state 
of things critical and alarming in the extreme? Yet no one seemed conscious 
of danger. The potato crop had been abundant for four or five years, and res- 
pite from dearth and distress was comparative happiness and prosperity. More- 
over, the temperance movement (initiated by the celebrated Father Matthew) 
had come to make the "good times" still better. Everything looked bright. 'No 
one concerned himself to discover how slender and treacherous was the founda- 
tion for this general hopefulness and confidence. 

"Yet signs of the coming storm had been given. Partial famine caused by 
failing harvests had indeed been intermittent in Ireland, and quite recently warn- 
ings that ought not to have been mistaken or neglected had given notice that the 
esculent which formed the sole dependence of the peasant millions was subject 
to some mysterious blight. In 1844 it was stricken in America, but in Ireland 
the yield was as healthy and plentiful as ever. The harvest of 1845 promised to be 
the richest gathered for many years. Suddenly in one short month, in one week 
it might be said, the withering breath of a simoom semed to sweep the land, 
blasting all in its path. I myself saw whole tracts of potato growth changed 
in one night from smiling luxuriance to a shrivelled and blackened waste. A 
shout of alarm arose. But the buoyant nature of the Celtic peasant did not yet 

__ -Page Twenty-Two 




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THE GROSSE-ISLE TRAGEDY 

give way. The crop was so profuse that it was expected the healthy portion 
would reach an average result. Winter revealed the alarming fact that the 
tubers had rotted in pit and store-house. Nevertheless the farmers, like hapless 
men who double their stakes to recover losses, made only the more strenuous exer- 
tions to till a larger breadth in 1846. Although already feeling the. pinch of sore 
distress, if not actual famine, they worked as if for dear life; they begged and 
borrowed on any terms the means whereby to crop the land once more. The 
pawn-offices were choked with the humble finery that had shone at the village 
dance or christening-feast ; the banks and local money-lenders were besieged with 
appeals for credit. Meals were stinted, backs were bared. Anything, anything 
to tide over the interval to the harvest of "Forty-six." 

"Oh, God, it. is a dreadful thought that all this effort was but more surely 
leading them to ruin! It was this harvest of Forty-six that sealed their doom. 
Not partially, but completely, utterly, hopelessly, it perished. As in the pre- 
vious year, all promised brightly up to the close of July. Then, suddenly, in a 
night, whole areas were blighted; and this time, alas! no portion of the crop 
escaped. A cry of agony and despair went up all over the land. The last des- 
perate stake for life had been played, and all was lost. 

"Tlie d med people realized but too well what was before them. Last year's 
premonitory sufferings had exhausted them ; and now? they must die! 

"My native district figures largely in the gloomy record of that dreadful 
time. I saw the horrible phantasmagoria would to God it were but that! pass 
before my eyes. Blank stolid dismay, a sort of stupor, fell upon the people, 
contrasting remarkably with the fierce energy put forth a year before. It was 
no uncommon sight to see the cottier and his little family seated at the blighted 
plot that had been their last hope. Nothing could arouse them. You spoke ; they 
answered not. You tried to cheer them ; they shook their heads. I never saw so 
sudden and so terrible a transformation. 

"When c : in the autumn of 1845 the partial blight appeared, wise voices 
were raised in warning to the Government that a frightful catastrophe was at 
hand ; yet even then began that fatal circumlocution and inaptness which it mad- 
dens one to think of. It would be utter injustice to deny that the Government 
made exertions, which, judged by ordinary emergencies, would be prompt ^nd con- 
siderable. But judged by the awful magnitude of the evil then at hand or actually 
befallen, they were fatally tardy and inadequate. When at length the Executive 
did hurry, the blunders of precipitancy outdid the disasters of excessive deliber- 
ation. 

"In truth, the Irish famine was one of those stupendous calamities which the 
rules and formulae of ordinary constitutional administration were unable to cope 
with, and which could be efficiently encountered only by the concentration of 
plenary powers and resources in some competent "despotism" located on the scene 
of disaster. It was easy to foresee the result of an attempt to deal "at long range" 
with such an evil, to manap-e it from Downing Street, London, according to 
orthodox routine. Again and again the Government were warned, not by heed- 
less orators or popular leaders, but by men of the highest position and soundest 
repute in Ireland, that, even with the very best intentions on their part, mistake 
and failure must abound in any attempt to grapple with the famine by the ordin- 
ary machinery of government. Many efforts, bold and able efforts, were made 
by the Government and by Parliament eighteen months subsequently : I refer es- 
pecially to the measures taken in the session of 1847. But, unfortunately, every- 
thing seemed to come too late. Delay made all the difference. In October, 1845, 

Page Twenty-Three 



THE GROSSE-ISLE TRAGEDY 

the Irish Mansion House Relief Committe implored the Government to call Parlia- 
ment together and throw open the ports. The Government refused. Again 
and again the terrible urgency of the case, the magnitude of the disaster at hand, 
was pressed on the Executive. It was the obstinate refusal of Lord John Russell 
to listen to these remonstrances and entreaties, and the sad verification subse- 
quently of these apprehensions, that implanted in the Irish mind the bitter mem- 
ories which still occasionally find vent in passionate accusation of "England." 

"Not but that the Government had many and weighty arguments in behalf 
of the course they took. First, they feared exaggeration, and waited for official 
investigation and report. The truth is, the fight over the Corn Law question in 
England at the time was peculiarly unfortunate for Ireland ; because the protec- 
tionist press and politicians felt it a duty strenuously to deny there was any dan- 
ger of famine, lest such a circumstance should be made a pretext for Free Trade. 
Thus, the Duke of Richmond, on the gth of December, 1845, speaking at the 
Agricultural Protection Society, said, "With respect to the cry of 'Famine/ he be- 
lieved that it was perfectly illusory, and no man of respectability could have put 
it in good faith if he had been acquainted with the facts within the knowledge of 
their society." At Warwick, on the 3ist of December, Mr. Newdegate carried a 
resolution testifying against "the fallacy and mischief of the reports of a deficient 
harvest," and affirming that "there was no reasonable ground for apprehending a 
scarcity of food." Like declarations abounded in England up to a late period of 
the famine, and, no doubt, considerably retarded the prompt action of the Govern- 
ment. Even when official testimony was forthcoming, the Cabinet in London 
erred, as the Irish peasantry did, in trusting somewhat that the harvest of 1846 
would change gloom to joy. When the worst came in 1846-47, much precious 
time was lost through misunderstanding and recrimination betwen the Irish land- 
lords and the Executive, charges of neglect of duties on one hand, and of inca- 
pacity on the other, passing freely to and fro. No doubt the Government feared 
waste, prodigality, and abuse if it placed absolute power and unlimited supplies 
in the hands of an Irish board ; and one must allow that, to a commercially-minded 
people, the violations of the doctrines of political economy involved in every sug- 
gestion and demand shouted across the Channel from Ireland were very alarm- 
ing. Yet in the end it was found all too late, unfortunately that those doc- 
trines were inapplicable in such a case. They had to be flung aside in 1847. Had 
they been discarded a year or two sooner, a million of lives might have been 
saved. 

"The situation bristled with difficulties. "Do not demoralize the people by 
pauper doles, but give them employment," said one counsellor. "Beware how 
you interfere with the labor-market," answered another. "It is no use voting 
millions to be paid away on relief works while you allow the price of food to be 
run up four hundred per cent. ; set up Government depots for sale of food at rea- 
sonable price," cried many wise and far-seeing men. "Utterly opposed to the 
teachings of Adam Smith," responded Lord John Russell." 

Thus were thousands upon thousands of Irish lives doomed to untold suffer- 
ing and premature end in order to carry out the smug theories of economic doc- 
trinaires and to gratify that grasping spirit of commercialism, which destroyed 
the industries and the once flourishing trade of the Emerald Isle, and left to its 
unhappy landlord-ridden, rack-rented people, scarcely anything but agricul- 
ture and the potato for their miserable subsistence. And when the potato failed 
completely, they were literally crushed to the earth. The annual value of the 

Page Twenty- Four 



THE 



GROSSE-ISLE 



TRAGEDY 



crop was estimated at millions of pounds and, considering the immense amount 
of human and animal sustenance derived from it, some idea may be formed of the 
awful misery consequent on the destruction of the root that not only proved dis- 
astrous to the poorer classes, but threatened the existence of everyone of the eight 
to nine millions of souls then in Ireland. Is it any wonder, therefore, that this 
population was reduced by the famine and the exodus following- it by fully one- 
half or more? 




Page Twenty-Five 




"'Twas famine's wasting breath, 
That iving'd the shaft of death, 

A ghra gal mochreel 
And the landlord lost to feeling, 
Who drove us from our sheeling, 
Though we pray'd for mercy kneeling, 

A ghra gal mochreel"* 

N the opening of the fateful year of 1847, which has been ever since 
known among the Irish race as "The Black Forty-Seven," the 
acute gravity of the situation could no longer be denied or con- 
cealed by any one. Gaunt famine and pestilence were stalking 
with giant strides through the unfortunate Green Isle, striking- 
down their victims by the hundreds and thousands. The crisis 
had come and the Queen, in her speech from the throne to the British Parliament 
on the iQth January of that year, said : "It is with the deepest concern that, upon 
again assembling, I have to call your attention to the dearth of provisions which 
prevails in Ireland and parts of Scotland. In Ireland especially, the loss of the 
usual food of the people has been the cause of severe sufferings, of disease, and 
of greatly increased mortality among the poorer classes." 

Thus, for f he first time, in a long series of years, Ireland appeared no longer 
in the arena of political agitation, for now a widespread and desolating famine, 
unequalled in the past history of the world, certainly not to be paralleled in the 
history of modern times, raged supreme. 

Amid the horrors of "Black Forty-Seven says Sullivan and other writers 
the reason of strong men gave way in Ireland. The people lay dead in hundreds 
on the highways and in the fields. Yet there was food in abundance in the coun- 
try, for the corn exported from Ireland that year would alone it is computed 
have sufficed to feed a larger population, but the Government said it should not 
be touched unless in accordance with the teachings of Adam Smith and the "laws 
of political economy." Consequently, the British Ministers of that day compelled 
the young Queen to utter a falsehood when she said that there was "a dearth of 
provisions in Ireland." 

The truth is that the mechanism of absentee rule completely broke down, 
even in carrying out its own tardy and inefficient measures. The charity of the 
English people generously endeavored towards the end to compensate for the 
heartlessness and inefficiency of the Government. But it could not be done. The 
people perished in thousands. Ireland was one huge charnel-pit and the Irish 
peasantry, who a few years before were matchless in the world, were left but a 
wreck of the splendid population they had been only a short time previously. Of 
the inadequate measures taken to relieve the starving people, this graphic and 
pathetic description is given by the author of "New Ireland": 

"At first the establishment of public soup-kitchens under local relief com- 
mittees, subsidized by Government, was relied upon to arrest the famine. I 
doubt if the world ever saw so huge a demoralization, so great a degradation, 
visited upon a once high-spirited and sensitive people. All over the country large 
iron boilers were set up in which what was called "soup" was concocted, later 
on, Indian-meal stir-about was boiled. Around these boilers on the roadside there 

*A ghra gal mochree (O, bright love of my heart). 

Page Twenty-Six 




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000 



THE GROSS E -ISLE TRAGEDY 

daily moaned and shrieked and fought and scuffled crowds of gaunt, cadaverous 
creatures that once had been men and women made in the image of God. The 
feeding of dogs in a kennel was far more decent and orderly. I once thought ay, 
and often bitterly said, in public and in private that never, never would our people 
recover the shameful humiliation of that brutal public soup-boiler scheme, (which 
was in too many places accompanied by attempts on the part of religious bigots 
and zealots to proselytize the poor Catholic applicants at the price of such relief). 
I frequently stood and watched the scene till tears blinded me and I almost 
choked with grief and passion. It was heart-breaking, almost maddening, to 
see ; but help for it there was none. 

"The Irish poor-law system early broke down under the strain which the 
famine imposed. Until 1846 the work-houses were shunned and detested by the 
Irish poor. Relief of destitution had always ben regarded by the Irish as a sort 
of religious duty or fraternal succor. Poverty was a misfortune, not a crime. 
When, however, relief was offered, on the penal condition of an imprisonment 
that sundered the family tie, and which, by destroying home, howsoever humble, 
shut out all hope of future recovery, it was indignantly spurned. Scores of times 
I have seen some poor widow before the workhouse board clasp her little children 
tightly to her heart and sob aloud, "No, no, your honor. If they are to be parted 
from me, I'll not come in. I'll beg the wide world with them." 

"But soon beneath the devouring pangs of starvation even this holy affec- 
tion had to give way, and the famishing people poured into the workhouses, 
which soon choked with the dying and the dead. Such privations had been en- 
dured in every case before this hated ordeal was faced, that the people entered 
the Bastille to die. The parting scenes of husband and wife, father and mother 
and children, at the board-room door would melt a heart of stone Too well they 
felt it was to be an eternal severance, and that this loving embrace was to be their 
last on earth. The warders tore them asunder, the husband from the wife, the 
mother from the child, for "discipline" required that it should be so. But, with 
the famine-fever in every ward, and the air around them laden with disease and 
death, they knew their fate, and parted like victims at the foot of the guillotine. 

"It was not long before the workhouses overflowed and could admit no more. 
Rapidly as the death-rate made vacancies, the pressure of applicants overpowered 
all resources. Worse still, bankruptcy came on many a union. In some the 
poor-rate rose to twenty-two shillings on the pound, and very nearly the entire 
rural population of several were needing relief. In a few cases, I am sorry to 
say, the horrible idea seemed to seize the land-owners on the boards that all rates 
would be ineffectual, and that, as their imposition would result only in ruining 
"property," it was as well to "let things take their course." 

"The conduct of the Irish landlords throughout the famine-period has been 
variously described, and has been, I believe, generally condemned. I consider 
the censure visited on them too sweeping. I hold it to be in some respects cruelly 
unjust. On many of them no blame too heavy could possibly fall. A large num- 
ber were permanent absentees ; their ranks were swelled by several who early fled 
the post of duty at home, cowardly and selfish deserters of a brave and faithfal 
people. Of those who remained, some may have grown callous : it is impossible 
to contest authe r tic instances of brutal heartlessness here and there. But, grant- 
ing all that has to be entered on the dark debtor side, the overwhelming balance 
is the other way. The bulk of the resident Irish landlords manfully did their best 
in that dread hour. If they did too little compared with what the landlord class 
in England would have done in similar case, it was because little was in their 

Page Twenty-Seven 



THE GROSSE-ISLE TRAGEDY 

power. The famine found most of the resident landed gentry of Ireland on the 
brink of ruin. They were heritors of estates heavily overweighted with the debts 
of a bygone generation. Broad lands and lordly mansions were held by them on 
settlements and conditions that allowed small scope for the exercise of individual 
liberality. To these landowners the failure of one year's rental receipts meant 
mortgage-foreclosure and hopeless ruin. Yet cases might be named by the score 
in which such men scorned to avert by pressure on their suffering tenantry the 
fate they saw impending over them. They "went down with the ship." 

"In the autumn of 1846 relief works were set on foot, the Government having 
received parliamentary authority to grant baronial loans for such undertakings. 
There might have been found many ways of applying these funds in reproductive 
employment, but the modes decided on were draining and road-making. The 
result was in every sense deplorable failure. The wretched people were by this 
time too wasted and emaciated to work. The endeavor to do so under an inclem- 
ent winter sky only hastened death. They tottered at daybreak to the roll-call, 
vainly tried to wheel the barrow or ply the pick, but fainted away on the "cutting," 
or lay down on the wayside to rise no more. 

"It was the fever which supervened on the famine that wrought the greatest 
slaughter and spread the greatest terror. For this destroyer when it came spared 
no class, rich or poor. As long as it was "the hunger" alone that raged, it was 
no deadly peril to visit the sufferers ; but not so now. To come within the reach 
of this contagion was certain death. Whole families perished unvisited and un- 
assisted. By levelling above their corpses the sheelings in which they died, the 
neighbors gave them a grave. 

"No pen can trace nor tongue relate the countless deeds of heroism and self- 
sacrifice which this dreadful visitation called forth on the part, pre-eminently, of 
two classes in the community, the Catholic clergy and the dispensary doctors of 
Ireland. I have named the Catholic clergy, not that those of the Protestant 
denominations did not furnish many instances of devotion fully as striking, but 
because on the former obviously fell the brunt of the trial. For them there 
was no flinching. A call to administer the last rites of religion to the inmate of 
a plague-ward or fever-shed must be, and is, obeyed by the Catholic priest, 
though death to himself be the well-known consequence. The fatality among the 
two classes I have mentioned, clergymen and doctors, was lamentable. Christian 
heroes, martyrs for humanity, their names are blazoned on no courtly roll; yet 
shall they shine upon an eternal page, brighter than the stars! 

"But even this dark cloud of the Irish famine had its silver lining. If it is 
painful to recall the disastrous errors of irresolution and panic, one can linger 
gratefully over memories of Samaritan philanthropy, of efficacious generosity, of 
tenderest sympathy. The people of England behaved nobly; and assuredly not 
less munificent were the citizens of the great American Republic, which had 
already become the home of thousands of the Irish race. From every consider- 
able town in England there poured subscriptions, amounting in the aggregate to 
hundreds of thousands of pounds. From America came a truly touching demon- 
stration of national sympathy. Some citizens of the States contributed two ship- 
loads of breadstuff s, and the American Government decided to furnish the ships 
which should bring the offering to the Irish shore. Accordingly, two war-vessels, 
the "Macedonian" and the "Jamestown" frigates, having had their armaments 
removed, their "gun-decks" displaced and cargo bulkheads put up, were filled to 
the gunwale with best American flour and biscuits, and despatched on their errand 
of mercy. It happened that just previously the British naval authorities had 
Page Twenty- Eight 



THE GROSS E -ISLE TRAGEDY 

rather strictly refused the loan of a ship for a like purpose, as being quite opposed 
to all departmental regulations, and a good deal of angry feeling was called forth 
by the refusal. Yet had it a requiting contrast in the despatch from England, by 
voluntary associations there, of several deputations or embassies of succor, 
charged to visit personally the districts in Ireland most severely afflicted, and to 
distribute with their own hands the benefactions they wrought." 

In his sketch of "Grosse Isle and the Irish Exodus of 1847," published in the 
QUEBEC DAILY TELEGRAPH of nth September, 1897, the late James M. O'Leary 
thus referred to the situation on the opening of and during 1847 : 

"The result was that the workhouses were filled to overflowing, and the 
governors had been compelled to close their doors against further admissions, 
while the local authorities were anxiously waiting for the time when the Canadian 
navigation usually opened, in order to rid their wharves, crowded hospitals, and 
hulks at anchor in every seaport of the living mass of misery for whom they could 
not or would not find shelter and relief. 

"Hitherto the landlords of Ireland had received the full amount of their rents, 
which they had spent in distant lands, never returning even a single farthing to- 
wards the relief of their suffering tenantry, but on the 26th of February, 1847, an 
Act came into force which compelled them to contribute to the support of the poor 
on their estates, by defraying the cost of buildings for them, the providing of kit- 
chen utensils, and the purchase, preparation, and distribution of food and cloth- 
ing. Sooner, however, than comply with the law, they began their inhuman work 
of wholesale demolition and extermination. They took special care to rid their 
estates of tha helpless widows and their little ones, of the old, the crippled, and 
those whose constitutions had been enfeebled by sickness and destitution. Some 
gave their famishing tenants a mere trifle, on condition that they would take the 
road to the nearest seaport. Others placed in their hands pretended cheques on 
Canadian mercantile houses, to induce them to give up their little. farms. Others, 
like the two thousand tenants shipped from Lord Palmerston's estates, were not 
only promised clothing, but solemnly assured that His Lordship's agent at Quebec 
had been instructed to pay them from 2 to $ a family, according to their num- 
ber. Others, as in the case of the tenants of Lord Darnley, County Meath, were 
given sealed letters addressed to the Chief Emigrant Agent at Quebec, and told 
that they contained orders to give them ten shillings each, while the letters only 
requested the agent to give them good advice. 

"Where persuasion failed, coercion came in. Hundreds of families were 
driven from their homes, and these homes razed before their eyes. Not content 
with this, the landlords mercilessly drove them from the ditches to which they had 
betaken themselves for shelter and where they were attempting to fit up a place of 
some kind for themselves and their little ones, by means of sticks and wood. In 
the case of the Girrard evictions, the unfortunate tenants had their rent ready. 
They offered it to the landlord, implored him to receive it, but their entreaties were 
in vain. They were driven from their holdings and an entire village depopulated 

"As a general thing the tenants hurried away, as best they could, to parts 
where kind friends awaited them, friends, who during the famine of '46, had sent 
them such generous, although insufficient assistance." 



Page Twenty-Nine 



CHAPTER Jfltgljt of tfje 

FOU " tt 3rt*i exobw* of 1847 




"Lochaber no more! Lochaber no more! 
We'll may be return to Lochaber no more!" 

A. M. SULLIVAN relates that a Scotch Highland friend, whose 
people were swept away by the great "Sutherland Clearances," 
describing to him some of the scenes in that great dispersion, 
often dwelt with emotion on the spectacle of the evicted clansmen 
marching through the glens on their way to exile, their pipers 
playing as a last farewell "Lochaber no more!," and he adds: 
"I sympathized with his story; I shared all his feelings. I had seen my own 
countrymen march in like sorrowful procession on their way to the emigrant- 
ship. Not alone in one district, however, but all over the island, were such scenes 
to be witnessed in Ireland from 1847 to 1857. Within that decade of years nearly 
a million of people were "cleared" off the island by eviction and emigration. 

"A bitter memory is held in Ireland of the "Famine Clearances," as they are 
called. There was much in them that was heartless and deplorable, much also that 
was unfortunately unavoidable. Three years of dreadful privation had annihilated 
the resources of the agricultural population. Throughout whole districts the 
tenant-farmers the weak and wasted few who survived hunger and plague 
were without means to till the soil. The exhaustion of the tenant class involved, 
in numerous cases, the ruin of the landlords. A tenantry unable to crop the land 
were, of course, unable to pay a rent. Many of them, so far from being in a 
position to pay, rather required the landlord's assistance to enable them to live. 

"Apart from all question as to the disposition of the Irish landlords to yield 
such aid, it is the indubitable fact that, as a class, they were utterly unable to 
afford it. Some of them nearly extinguished their own interests in their estates 
by borrowing money in 1848, 1849 and 1850, to pull the tenants through. 

"Too many of the Irish landlords acted differently; and for the course they 
adopted they were not the only persons to blame. The English press at this 
juncture embraced the idea that the Irish famine, if properly availed of, would 
prove a great blessing. Many of the English papers, led by the London Times, 
actually gloated over the Irish situation and the dispersion of the troublesome 
Irish. Providence, it was declared, had sent this valuable opportunity for settling 
the vexed question of Irish misery and discontent. Nothing could have been done 
with the wretched population that had hitherto squatted on the land. They were 
too poor to expend any capital in developing the resources of the soil. They were 
too ignorant to farm it scientifically. Besides, they were too numerous. Why 
incur ruinous expense to save or continue a class of landholders so undesirable 
and injurious? Rather behold in what has happened an indication of the design 
of Providence. Ireland needs to be colonized with thrifty Scotch and scientific 
English farmers ; men with means ; men with modern ideas. 

"Thus pleaded and urged a thousand voices on the English shore; and to im- 
pecunious Irish landlords the suggestion seemed a heavenly revelation. English 
tenants paid higher rents than Irish, and paid them punctually. English "colo- 
nists" would so farm the land as to increase its worth four-fold. English farmers 
had a proper idea of land-tenure, and would quit their holdings on demand. No 
more worry with half-pauperized and discontented fellows always behind with their 

Page Thirty 



THE G R O S S E - I S L E TRAGEDY 

rent, always wanting a reduction, and never willing to pay an increase! No 
more annoyance from tenant-right agitators and seditious newspapers ; no more 
dread of Ribbonite mandates and Rickite warnings! Blessed hour! El Dorado 
was in sight! 

"To men circumstanced as the Irish landlords were in 1847, these allure- 
ments were sure to prove irresistible. They formed the theme and substance of 
essay, speech, and lecture in England at the time. Some writers put the matter a 
little kindly for the Irish, and regretted that the regeneration of the country had 
to be accomplished at a price so painful. Others, unhappily, made no secret of 
their joy and exultation. Here was the opportunity to make an end of the Irish 
difficulty. The famine had providentially cleared the way for a great and grand 
work, if, England was but equal to the occasion. Now was the time to plant 
Ireland with a British population. 

"One now can afford to doubt that the men who spoke and wrote in this 
way ever weighed the effect and consequences of such language on a people like 
the Irish. I recall it in a purely historical spirit, to identify it as the first visible 
origin and cause of a state of things which disagreeably challenges English atten- 
tion, the desperate bitterness, the deadly hatred of England, which the emigrant 
thousands carried with them from Ireland to America. To many an Englishman 
that hostile spirit must seem almost inexplicable. "If Irishmen have had to emi- 
grate," they say, "it was for their own good and advantage: why should they 
hate England for that? There is no need to dwell upon the painful circumstances 
that distinguish the Irish exodus from the adventurous emigration of Germans or 
Swedes or Englishmen. The Irishman who comes to tell the story of these fam- 
ine-evictions, and the emigration-panic which followed, finds himself, in truth, face 
to face with the origin of Irish-American Fenianism. 

'Thanks be to God, they have fired in the air!' says the Cork waiter to the 
English visitor in one of Lever's stories. Two Irish gentlemen having quarreled 
in the hotel coffee-room, a duel with pistols was arranged to come off on the spot 
there and then. To the delight of their friends, however, and of the assembled 
waiters, napkin on arm, they "fired in the air," that is, through the ceiling, and 
nearly shot the Englishman in "No. 10" overhead. Very like this "firing in the 
air" was the conduct of the Irish landords who sent off their pauperized tenantry 
and cottiers to England and America. "Thanks be to God, they are gone!" 
was, no doubt, the happy reflection of many a benevolent landlord at this time 
But gone whither, and to what fate? Gone from possibly burdening or inconven- 
iencing him ; but what of the possible burden and inconvenience to the social sys- 
tems into which this mass of strange material was thus flung? 

"Often as I stood and watched these departing groups I tried to think what 
it might be th; *: they could do in "the land they were going to." What were 
they fit for? Many of them had never seen a town of ten thousand inhabitants ; 
and in a large city, even in their own country, they would be helpless and bewil- 
dered as a flock of sheep on a busy highway. What was before them in the 
midst of London or New York? What impressions would they create in the 
minds of a strange city people? What species of skill, what branch of industry, 
did they bring with them, to command employment and insure a welcome? Few 
of them could read ; some of them, accustomed to speak the native Gaelic, knew 
little of the English tongue. Their rustic manners would expose them to derision, 
their want of education to contempt, on the part of those who would not know, 
or pause to consider, that in the hapless land they left, the schoolmaster had been 
proscribed by law for two hundred years. Wofully were they handicapped. 

Page Thirty-One 



THE GROSSE-ISLE TRAGEDY 

Nearly everything was against them. Their past ways of life, so far from train- 
ing- them in aught for these new circumstances, in nearly every way unfitted them 
for the change. 

"I speak in all this of the peasant or cottier emigrants. Mingling in the 
vast throng went thousands, no doubt, who, happily for them as it afterward 
proved, possessed education, skill, and occasionally moderate means for a start 
in life on the other side, members of respectable and once prosperous families 
that had been ruined in the famine-time. Nay, there sailed in the steerage of the 
emigrant-ships many a fair young girl, going to face a servant's lot in a foreign 
land, who at home had once had servants to attend her every want; and many a 
fine young fellow ready to engage as groom, who learned that business, so to 
speak, as a gentleman's son in the hunting-field. In the cities and towns of Great 
Britain and America there are to-day hundreds of Irishmen, some having risen to 
position and fortune, others still toiling on in some humble sphere, who landed 
on the new shore friendless and forlorn from the wreck of happy and affluent 
homes. 

"But as to the vast bulk of uncultured peasants, victims of this wholesale ex- 
pulsion, their fate was and could but be deplorable. Landing in such masses, 
everything around them so strange, so new, and sometimes so hostile, they inev- 
itably herded together, making a distinct colony or "quarter" in the city where 
they settled. Destitute as they were, their necessities drove them to the lowest 
and most squalid lanes and alleys of the big towns. At home in their native val- 
leys poverty was free from horrors that mingled with it here, namely, contact with 
debasing city crime. The children of these wretched emigrants grew up amidst 
terrible contaminations. The police-court records soon began to show an array of 
Celtic patronymics. "The low Irish" grew to be a phrase of scorn in the com- 
munity around them; and they, repaying scorn with hatred, became, as it were, 
the Arabs of the place, "their hand against every man's hand, and every man's 
hand against them." 

"This dismal picture, painfully true of many a case a quarter of a century 
ago, is now happily rare. A brighter and better state of things is rapidly making 
its appearance. But, for my own part, I can never forget the mournful impres- 
sions made upon me. 

"The Irish exodus had one awful concomitant, which in the Irish memory of 
that time fills nearly as large a space as the famine itself. The people, flying 
from fever-tainted hovel and workhouse, carried the plague with them on board 
Each vessel became a floating charnel-house. Day by day the American public 
was thrilled by the ghastly tale of ships arriving off the harbors reeking with 
typhus and cholera, the track they had followed across the ocean strewn with the 
corpses flung overbbard on the way. Speaking in the House of Commons on the 
nth of Feburary, 1848, Mr. Labouchere referred to one year's havoc on board the 
ships sailing to Canada and New Brunswick alone in the following words : 

"Out of 106,000 emigrants who during the last twelve months crossed the 
Atlantic for Canada and New Brunswick, 6,100 perished on the voyage, 4,100 on 
their arrival, 5,200 in the hospitals, and 1,900 in the towns to which they repaired. 
The total mortality was no less than 17 per cent, of the total number emigrating 
to those places; the number of deaths being 17,300." 

"In all the great ports of America and Canada, huge quarantine hospitals had 
to be hastily erected. Into these every day newly-arriving plague-ships poured 
what survived of their human freight, for whom room was as rapidly made in 
those wards by the havoc of death. Whole families disappeared betwen land and 

- Page Thirty-Two 




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THE GROSS E -ISLE TRAGEDY 

land, as sailors say. Frequently the adults were swept away, the children alone 
surviving. It was impossible in every case to ascertain the names of the suffer- 
ers, and often all clue to identification was lost. The public authorities, or the 
nobly humane organizations that had established those lazar-houses, found them- 
selves toward the close of their labors in charge of hundreds of orphan children, 
of whom names and parentage alike were now impossible to be traced. About 
eight years ago I was waited upon in Dublin by one of these waifs, now a man of 
considerable wealth and honorable position. He had come across the Atlantic in 
pursuit of a purpose to which he is devoting years of his life, an endeavor to 
obtain some clue to his family, who perished in one of the great shore hospitals in 
1849. Piously he treasures a few pieces of a red-painted emigrant-box, which he 
believes belonged to his father. Eagerly he travels from place to place in Clare 
and Kerry and Galway, to see if he may dig from the tomb of that terrible past 
the secret lost to him, I fear, forever! 

" From Grosse Island, the great charnel-house of victimized humanity' (says 
the Official Report of the Montreal Emigrant Society for 1847), "up to Port Sar- 
nia, and all along the borders of our magnificent river ; upon the shores of Lakes 
Ontario and Erie, wherever the tide of emigration has extended, are to be found 
the final resting-places of the sons and daughters of Erin ; one unbroken chain of 
graves, where repose fathers and mothers, sisters and brothers, in one commingled 
heap, without a tear bedewing the soil or a stone marking the spot. Twenty 
thousand and upward have thus gone down to their graves." 

"I do not know that the history of our time has a parallel for this Irish exo- 
dus. The Germans, to be sure, have emigrated in vast numbers, and, like the 
Irish, seem to form distinct communities where they settle. But many circum- 
stances distinguish the Irish case from any that can be recalled. Other emigra- 
tions were, more or less, the gradual and steady overflow of a population cheer- 
fully willing to go. This was the forcible expulsion or panic rush of a stricken 
people, and was attended by frightful scenes of suffering and death. Irishmen, 
moreover, feel that their country has not had a chance of fair play, if I may so 
express it, and especially the one section least likely to impress strangers with 
favorable and high ideas of Ireland and the Irish." 



Page Thirty-Three 



tf)c Cxiles; Came to Canaba 




"Sail on, sail on, thou fearless bark, 

Wherever blows the welcome wind; 
It cannot lead to scenes more dark, 

More sad, than those we leave behind." 

MOORE. 

JN his sketch already referred to of the events of 1847, J. M. O'Leary 
says: "The emigration of this year was marked by a depravity, 
seldom if ever recorded in the shipment of living men. One can- 
not but remark that the broken down and destitute condition of the 
greater portion of the class who intended to emigrate from Ireland 
in 1847 should have warned the Home authorities of the necessity 
of so regulating their departure, as to ensure some safety in the passage. Instead 
of this they had been allowed to ship in numbers out of all proportion to the ton- 
nage of the vessels, that is, in numbers two or three times greater than the same 
vessel would presume to embark for any port in the United States. The natural, 
the certain, consequence was a never before heard of mortality on the ocean and 
misery among the survivors who arrived, almost terrible to enquire into. Such 
appeared the indifference of commerce to everything but gain that free human 
beings were the only cargo shipmasters could embark, without some responsibil- 
ity, for its safe delivery, or guarantee for deficiency, on its arrival at its destined 
port. Whatever might be the casualties, whether they were landed healthy or 
sick, or whether half were thrown into the sea, the pounds, shillings and pence 
were received, for the freight was already paid for, and there was no bill of lading. 
"What helped to turn the stream of the poorest class of emigrants to Canada 
and other of the British provinces was, first, a United States law, limiting the 
number of persons each passenger vessel should carry, thus increasing the cost 
of passage, and second, laws were made by the States of New York and Massa- 
chusetts, which obliged the master or owner of a vessel bringing passengers, to 
give bonds that no emigrant brought out by them became chargeable to the State 
for a period of two years after their arrival. ' 

Different writers state that the departure of an emigrant cavalcade was a sad- 
dening sight. English travellers on Irish railways have sometimes been startled 
as the train entered a provincial station to hear a loud wail burst from a dense 
throng on the platform. While the porters with desperate haste are trundling 
into the luggage-van numerous painted deal boxes, a wild scene of leave-taking is 
proceeding. It is an emigrant farewell. The emigrants, weeping bitterly, kiss, 
over and over, every neighbor and friend, man, woman and child, who has come 
to see them for the last time. But the keen pang is where some member of the 
family is departing, leaving the rest to be sent for by him or her out of the first 
earnings in exile. The husband goes, trusting the wife and little ones to some 
relative or friend till he can pay their passage out from the other side. Or it is a 
son or daughter who parts from the old father and mother, and tells them they 
shall not be long left behind. A deafening wail resounds as the station-bell gives 
the signal of starting. I have seen gray-haired peasants so clutch and cling to 
the departing child at this last moment that only the utmost force of three or 
four friends could tear them asunder. The porters have to use some violence 
before the train moves off, the crowd so presses against door and window. When 
at length it moves away, amidst a scene of passionate grief, hundreds run along 
the fields beside the line to catch yet another glimpse of the friends they shall see 
no more. 

-Page Thirty-Four 




j*fw ^ < n tfje emigrant 



"Where are the swift ships flying 

Far to the West away? 
Why are the women crying 

Far to the West away? 
Is our dear land infected, 

That thus o'er her hays neglected, 
The skiff steals along dejected, 

While the ships fly far away?" 

HON. THOS. D'ARCY McGEE. 

VERYTHING that could convey human beings like so man} cattle to the 
shores of America was pressed into the service of transporting the 
crowds of Irish exiles from every Irish and many English ports to 
the New World. In those days all the vessels used for the purpose 
were sailing ships, which took from one to three months to make a 
passage across, which is now accomplished in less than a week. 
Many of these craft were rotten old wooden tubs which had been used in the 
Canadian lumber trade and the unfortunate emigrants were packed into them like 
so many herrings in a barrel without any accommodation for the separation of the 
sexes or the convenience of passengers such as so distinguish even the poorest of 
modern passenger boats. Is it any wonder, therefore, that that terrible pestilence, 
the typhus or ship fever, should have broken out on them hardly before they were 
out of sight of the Irish coast ? 

But let us accompany the suffering sons and daughters of old Erin across the 
Atlantic to Grosse Isle, leaving Stephen E. De Vere to tell the story. He was a 
nephew of Lord Monteagle and submitted himself to the privations of a steerage 
passage to Quebec in an emigrant ship for nearly two months in order to make 
himself personally acquainted with the condition of the emigrant on board. 

" Before the emigrant has been a week at sea he is an altered man. How 
can it be otherwise? Hundreds of people, men, women and children, of all ages, 
from the drivelling idiot of ninety to the babe just born, all huddled together, 
without light, without air, wallowing in filth, and breathing a fetid atmosphere. 
The fevered patients are lying between the healthy in sleeping places so narrow 
as almost to deny them the power of indulging by a change of position the natural 
restlessness of the disease, and by their agonized ravings disturbing those 
around, and predisposing them through the effects of the imagination to Imbibe 
the contagion, living without food or medicine except as administered to them 
fay the hand of casual charity, dying without the voice of spiritual consolation, 
and buried in the deep without the rites of the Church. 

"The food is generally unselected and seldom sufficiently cooked, in conse- 
quence of the bad construction of the cooking places. The supply of water, 
hardly enough for cooking and drinking, does not allow washing. In many ships 
the filthy beds, teeming with all abominations, are never required to be brought 
on deck and aired. The narrow space between the sleeping berths and piles of 
boxes is never washed or scraped, but breathes a damp and fetid stench, until the 
day before arrival at Quarantine, when all hands are required to scrub up and put 
on a fair face for the Doctor and Government Inspector. No moral restraint is 
attempted. The voice of prayer is never heard. Drunkenness, with its train of 
ruffianly debasement, is not discouraged, because it is profitable to the captain, 
who sells the grog." 

Page Thirty-Five 



THE GROSSE-ISLE TRAGEDY 

"It is only fair to state that, while many passengers bitterly complained of the 
treatment they had received both on the part of the captain and crew, others re- 
lated with the liveliest satisfaction all that they owed to their kind offices. 

"Now the great demand for passages induced many owners of vessels to fit 
them out, whose captains were ignorant of the means to be taken to preserve the 
health of their passengers. When fever broke out, they became alarmed for their 
own safety and would not go into the hold, which, from a neglect of cleanliness, 
had become a reeking pesthouse, where even those not stricken down were indiffer- 
ent to all exertion, even to the preservation of life. This apathy was so great, that 
time and again bodies were allowed to remain for a long: time in the bunks, where 
death ended their troubles, as the passengers and sailors positively declined to 
remove them, leaving the captain to carry the corpses on his back. Other cap- 
tains bribed their seamen with a sovereign, to perform this duty, while, in other 
cases, the dead were dragged out of their bunks with boathooks, their nearest 
relatives refusing to touch them. Yet, as in reproof to those on whom the blame 
of all this wretchedness fell, Germans, from Hamburg and Bremen, arrived at the 
Quarantine, all healthy, robust and cheerful. 

"On arriving at Grosse Isle, all hands were summoned on deck to pass the 
medical inspection, which was slight and hasty. Hardly any questions were 
asked, but as the doctor walked down the file he selected those for the hospital 
who did not look well, and after a trivial examination ordered them ashore. This 
medical inspection was not of daily occurrence, and even, after the first inspection, 
days passed without a doctor's visit, although sickness and the number of deaths 
were daily increasing aboard. 

"On the i4th of May, 1874, the first of tne fever fleet > tne Syria, from Liver- 
pool, reached Grosse Isle, and here it may be said, that almost all the emigrants 
from Liverpool, Dublin, Cork and Limerick, Cork and Limerick especially, 
were half dead from want and starvation before embarking, and the slightest 
diarrhoea, which was sure to come with change of food, ended their days without a 
struggle. Then the weak condition of others before leaving, rendered them unable 
to bear the fatigue of a voyage, and consequently increased the mortality, espec- 
ially as few, if any, of the vessels were provided with a doctor. In vessels that 
had to put back to port by stress of weather, fever had extensively broken out 
after the first day or two at sea. 

"Thirty vessels were anchored at Grosse Isle on the 2Oth May, 1847. They 
left port with 12,519 passengers, of whom 777 died at sea, and 459 on board at 
the island. Neither the sick nor the healthy could be landed, as there was no 
room for them ashore. In this sad state of affairs, Dr. G. Campbell, of Montreal, 
and Mr. A. C. Buchanan, Chief Emigrant Agent, at Quebec, commissioned Cap- 
tain John Wilson, of Quebec, to remove the healthy from the vessels to Mon- 
treal, at the rate of $i a-head. For this purpose, the steamers "Quebec," "Alli- 
ance" and "Queen," were sent to the island, and on arrival, drew up alongside 
the vessels, until a sufficient number of passengers were removed. As Doctor 
Douglas, the medical superintendent at Quarantine, and Mr. Buchanan were suf- 
fering from the fever, Captain Wilson, and the few hands who were willing to 
man his steamers, were left very much to their own resources in dealing with an 
immense crowd of suffering humanity, who really stood more in need of food than 
medicine. Acting on instructions received from Dr. Douglas, Captain Wilson 
and his aides judged by the color of the tongue of the poor emigrant whether he 
should or should not be left at Grosse Isle. There was no time for a thorough 
examination, for time meant money, and in this way families were forever separ- 

Page Thirty-Six 



THE GROS^SE-ISLE TRAGEDY 

ated, husband from wife, parents from children, neighbor from neighbor, and 
friend from friend. 

"Abroad as at home, our people bore their sufferings with the greatest 
patience. For six months, famine had swept through the length and breadth of 
the old land. Then came pestilence, followed by their seeking exile in an over- 
crowded, uncleanjy, and deadly emigrant ship, and now came the last earthly 
separation. They were taught by their pastors the duty of submission, and they 
exhibited to the whole world an example without a parallel in history. In reply 
to expressions of commiseration, the starving peasant would exclaim "Welcome 
to the will of God" and now as the steamer slowly moved away, bearing on its 
deck their nearest and dearest, they bowed to the divine will. 

"When the sad and broken hearted ones left Grosse Isle, they were literally 
crammed on board the steamer, exposed to the cold night air or the burning sun, 
(and the summer of '47 was decidedly hot), and in this condition the most robust 
constitution gave way to an unbroken series of hardships. The provinces of Que- 
bec and Ontario learned to their cost the fatal consequence of allowing emigrants 
to leave Quarantine without a sufficient sanitary probation, as well as the effect 
of having 800, 900, 1,000 and even 1,400 persons in a state of uncleanliness and 
debility, to be huddled, in some cases for forty-eight hours, on the deck of a 
steamer between Grosse Isle and Montreal. 

"In a tour which I made through Upper Canada, I met in every quarter some 
of my poor wandering fellow-country-people. Travelling from Prescott to By- 
town, by stage, I saw a poor woman with an infant in her arms, and a child pull- 
ing at her skirt, and crying as they went along. The driver compassionately 
took them up, and the wayfarer wept her thanks. She had lost her husband upon 
the voyage and was going to Bytown to her brother, who came out the previous 
year, and having made some money by lumbering in the woods, remitted to her 
the means of joining him ; she told her sad tale most plaintively, and the passen- 
gers all sympathized with her. The road being of that description called "cordu- 
roy," and the machine very crazy, the latter broke down within five miles of our 
destination, and as she was unable to carry her two children, the poor creature 
was obliged to remain upon the road all the night. She came into Bytown the fol- 
lowing morning, and I had the satisfaction to learn that she found her brother. 

"A large proportion of the emigrants who arrived in Canada crossed the fron- 
tiers, in order to settle in the United States. So that they were to be seen in the 
most remote places. At St. Catherine's, upon the Welland Canal, 600 miles from 
Quebec, I saw a family, who were on their way to the western part of the State 
of New York. One of them was taken ill, and they were obliged to remain by 
the wayside; with nothing but a few boards to protect them from the weather. 
There is no means of learning how many of the survivors of so many ordeals were 
cut off by the inclemency of a Canadian winter, so that the grand total of the 
human sacrifice will never be known but by "Him who knoweth all things." 

The following quotation from England's most popular writer, Charles Dick- 
ens, is apposite, and would that his suggestions uttered five years before the 
commencement of the tragic drama in Ireland and Canada had been attended to in 
time : if they had, much evil would have been spared humanity. In his "American 
Notes," Dickens said : 

"The whole system of shipping and conveying these unfortunate persons 
is one that stands in need of thorough revision. If any class deserve to be 
protected and assisted by the government, it is that class who are banished from 
their native land in search of the bare means of subsistence. All that could be 



Page Thirty-Seven 



THE GROSSE-ISLE TRAGEDY 

done for those poor people by the great compassion and humanity of the captains 
and officers, was done, but they required much more. The law is bound, at least 
upon the English side, to see that too many of them are not put on board one ship ; 
and that their accommodations are decent, not demoralizing and profligate. It 
is bound, too, in common humanity, to declare that no man shall be taken on 
board without his stock of provisions being previously inspected by some proper 
officer, and pronounced moderately sufficient for his support upon the voyage It 
is bound to provide, or to require that there be provided a medical attendant; 
whereas in these ships there are none, though sickness of adults and deaths of 
children on the passage are matters of the very commonest occurrence. Above 
all, it is the duty of any government, be it monarchy or republic, to interpose and 
put an end to that system by which a firm of traders in emigrants purchase of the 
owners the whole 'tween-decks of a ship, and send on board as many wretched 
people as they can get hold of on any terms they can get, without the smallest 
reference to the conveniences of the steerage, the number of berths, the slightest 
separation of the sexes, or anything but their own immediate profit. Nor is this 
the worst of the vicious system ; for certain crimping agents of these houses, who 
have a percentage on all the passengers they inveigle, are constantly travelling 
about those districts where poverty and discontent are rife, and tempting the cre- 
dulous into more misery, by holding out monstrous inducements to emigration 
which never can be realized." 




Page Thirty-Eight 




FALLS OF KILLARNEY 

"Thou shalt own the wonder wrought once by her skilled fingers, 
Still though many an age be gone round Killarney lingers." 



CHAPTER tfje Manb=== 

of <ro#se Me 




"Immediately a place 

Before his eyes appeared, sad, noisome, dark, 
A lazar-house it seem'd; wherein were laid 
Numbers of all diseased; all maladies of ghastly spasm 

Or racking torture, qualms 
Of heart-sick agony, all feverous kinds, 
Marasmas and wide-wasting pestilence. 
Dire was the tossing, deep the groans : Despair 
Tended the sick, busiest from couch to couch; 
And over them triumphant Death his dart 
Shook, but delay'd to strike, though oft invok'd 
With vows, as their chief good, and final hope. 
Sight so deform what heart of rock could long 
Dry-eyed behold? 

MILTON. 

HE Canadian authorities were hardly less remiss than the British in 
preparations to meet the terrible emergency before them ; although 
they had equally received ample warning of it. In 1846, Dr. 
Douglas, the medical superintendent at Grosse Isle, had repeat- 
edly urged them to get ready for what was coming. The British. 
Irish, American and Canadian newspapers had almost daily report- 
ed and commented on the alarming progress which the famine and pestilence were 
making in Ireland, so that they could not plead ignorance of the ominous outlook 
or of the fact that the emigration from the Green Isle to Canada in 1847 would be 
on a very large scale. Early in that year Mr. Robert Christie, the historian, then 
a leading member of the Provincial Parliament, wrote to the Provincial Secre- 
tary, Hon. Dominick Daly, complaining of the Government's inexcusable failure 
to take proper and necessary precautions and pointing out the great danger to 
which the country would be exposed, together with the measures to be adopted 
to avert it. Reverend Father Moylan, the Catholic missionary at Grosse Isle in 
those days, also gave timely forewarning to the Government with respect to the 
gravity of the situation, and it was upon his urgent recommendation that, later, 
when the crisis was on, the available police force to keep order on the island was 
increased by 50 men of the 93rd Regiment, under Lieut. Studdard, sent down 
from Quebec. 

But all the signs and the warnings of the coming storm were virtually un- 
heeded until it was practically too late. The only additions made to the Quaran- 
tine establishment were through the purchase of 50 bedsteads, double the quan- 
tity of straw used in former years and the erection of a new shed or building to 
serve as an hospital and to contain 60 more beds. In this way provision, includ- 
ing the old hospitals and sheds dating from 1832, was made for only 200 sick, 
the average of former years never having attained half that number requiring 
admission at one time. How utterly inadequate this was, the alarming sequel 
soon showed. 

But, while there was little or no excuse for the failure of the British author- 
ities to have risen equal to the great emergency, there was certainly a good deal 
for that of their Canadian colleagues. At that time the British North American 

Page Thirty-Nine 



THE GROS'SE-ISLE TRAGEDY 

provinces were comparatively new and poor, carrying on a struggling existence 
and possessing little means or few resources that were then available. Their 
political and social organization was yet in a more or less primitive and chaotic 
state, and, as already seen, they were also divided among themselves by conflict- 
ing opinions as to the gravity of the danger and the steps to be taken to avert or 
meet it. However, they were very soon brought face to face with it in all its 
hideousness and scarcely a month had elapsed after the opening of navigation in 
1847, when a session of the Provincial Parliament was hurriedly called and held 
in Montreal, a select committee was appointed to enquire into the situation, and 
a Commission was also appointed consisting of Drs. Painchaud, of Quebec, and 
McDonnell and Campbell, of Montreal, to investigate the character and amount 
of sickness prevailing among the emigrants at Grosse Isle and the best mode to 
be adopted to arrest the disease and prevent its dissemination, with full powers 
to make all such changes on the island as they thought proper. 

The Commissioners reported. Of the sick in the hospitals, sheds and tents, 
they said : "We found these unfortunate people in the most deplorable condition 
for want of necessary nurses and hospital attendants ; their friends who had par- 
tially recovered being in too many instances unable and, in most, unwilling, to 
render them any assistance, common sympathies being apparently annihil- 
ated by the mental and bodily depression produced by famine and disease. At our 
inspection of many of the vessels, we witnessed some appalling instances of what 
we have now stated corpses lying in the same beds with the sick and the dying, 
the healthy not taking the trouble to remove them." 

Immediate steps were taken by the Commissioners for affording temporary 
shelter on the island, by means of spars and sails borrowed from the ships and 
the putting up of shanties for the accommodation of the healthy. 

What pen can fittingly describe the horrors of that shocking summer at 
Grosse Isle? All the eye-witnesses, all the writers on the subject, agree in saying 
that they have never been surpassd in pathos, as wll as in hideousness and ghast- 
liness. In a few months one of the most beautiful spots on the St. Lawrence was 
converted into a great lazar and charnel-house to be forever sanctified by the sad- 
dest memories of an unhappy race. 

In speaking of the fever sheds, Mr. De Vere says : "They were very miser- 
able, so slightly built as to exclude neither the heat nor cold. No sufficient care 
was taken to remove the sick from the sound or to disinfect and clean the bed- 
dings. The very straw upon which they had lain was often allowed to become a 
bed for their successors and I have known many poor families prefer to burrow 
under heaps of loose stones, near the shore, rather than accept the shelter of the 
infected sheds." 

Captain, afterwards Admiral Boxer, of Crimean fame, stated that there was 
nothing more terrible than the sheds. Most of the patients were attacked with 
dysentery and the smell was dreadful, as there was no ventilation. 

Fathers Moylan and O'Reilly saw the emigrants in the sheds lying on the 
bare boards and ground for whole nights and days without either bed or bedding. 
Two, and sometimes three, were in a berth. No distinction was made as to sex, 
age or nature of illness. Food was insufficient and the bread not baked. Patients 
were supplied three times a day with tea, gruel or broth. How any of them ever 
recovered is a wonder. Father O'Reilly visited two ships, the "Avon" and the 
"Triton." The former lost 136 passengers on the voyage and the latter 93. All 
these were thrown overboard and buried in the Atlantic. He administered the 

Page Forty 



THE GROSS E-ISLE TRAGEDY 

last rites to over 200 sick on board these ships. Father Moylan's description of 
the condition of the holds of these vessels is simply most revolting and horrible. 

As for the dead, who were not buried at sea, it has been already seen how 
they were taken from the pest ships and corded like fire-wood on the beach to 
await burial. In many instances the corpses were carried out of the foul smell- 
ing 1 holds or they were dragged with boat-hooks out of them by sailors and others 
who had to be paid a sovereign for each. 

A word more as to the removal of the corpses from the vessels : They were 
brought from the hold, where the darkness was, as it were, rendered more visible 
by the miserable untrimmed oil lamp that showed light in some places sufficient to 
distinguish a form, but not a face. It was more by touch than by sight that the 
passengers knew each other. First came the touch and then the question, who 
is it? Even in the bunks many a loved one asked the same question to one by 
his or her side, for in the darkness that reigned their eyesight was failing them. 

When the priest, leaving daylight and sunlight behind, as each step from deck 
led him down the narrow ladder into the hold of the vessels of those days, as want- 
ing in ventilation as the Black Hole of Calcutta, he had to make himself known, 
and your poor Irish emigrant, with the love and reverence he had for his clergy, 
who stuck to him through thick and thin, endeavored to raise himself and warmly 
greet him with the little strength that remained. 

Another death was announced on board, but no thrill, or excitement was 
caused by the news, among the seamen or passengers. As for the latter they had 
seen death by the road-side at home they had seen their best and bravest fall 
"like leaves in wintry weather," at home and abroad, and thy were prepared at 
any time for the inevitable. With them there was no fear, no shrinking from 
death, no longing for life. All the hopes they ever had of success on earth were 
crushed forever, and their hopes now were beyond the grave hopes with which 
their cherished religion inspired them. 

Another death announced, orders were given by the captain for the removal 
of the body. Kind hands in many cases attended to this. In other cases, as we 
have seen, it was left to strangers. Up the little narrow ladder to the deck, were 
the corpses borne in the same condition in which they died, victims among other 
things of filth, uncleanliness and bed sores, and with hardly any clothing on them. 
There was no pretence of decency or the slightest humanity shown. 

On deck a rope was placed around the emaciated form of the Irish peasant, 
father, mother, wife and husband, sister and brother. The rope was hoisted and 
with their heads and naked limbs dangling for a moment in mid-air, with the 
wealth of hair of the Irish maiden, or young Irish matron, or the silvered locks 
of the poor old Irish grandmother floating in the breeze, they were finally lowered 
over the ship's side into the boats, rowed to the island and left on the rocks until 
such time as they were coffined. Well might His Grace the Archbishop of Que- 
bec, in his letter to the Bishops of Ireland, say that the details he received of the 
scenes of horror and desolation at the island almost staggered belief and baffled 
description. 

There was no delay in burying the dead. The spot selected for their last 
resting place was a lonely one at the western end of the island at about ten acres 
from the landing. At first the graves were not dug a sufficient depth. The 
rough coffins were piled one over the other and the earth covering the upper row, 
in some instances, was not more than a foot deep and generally speaking about a 
foot and a half. The cemetery was about 6 acres in extent. Later huge trenches 

Page Forty-One 



THE GROSSE-ISLE TRAGEDY 

were dug in it about 5 or 6 feet deep and in these the bodies were laid often un- 
coffined. Six men were kept constantly employed at this work. 

Bechard, in his history of the island, adds a new horror to the ghoulish scene. 
He states that an army of rats, which had come ashore from the fever ships, in- 
vaded the field of death, took possession of it and pierced it with innumerable 
holes to get at and gnaw the bodies buried in the shallow graves until hundreds 
of loads of earth had to be carted and placed upon them. 

At first says the late J. M. O'Leary the sick were placed in the hospitals, 
while the seemingly healthy were sent to the sheds, but emigrants were continually 
arriving who were left for days and nights without a bed under them, or a cover 
over them, wasting and melting away under the united influence of fever and dys- 
entery, without any one to give them a drink during their long hours of raging 
thirst and terrible sufferings. For want of beds and bedding, for want of attend- 
ants, hundreds of poor creatures, after a long voyage, consumed by confinement 
and hunger, thirst and disease, were compelled to spend the long, long nights 
and sultry days, lying on the hard boards, without a pillow under their burning 
heads, without a hand to moisten their parched lips, or fevered brows, and what 
was the result? they who, by a little providential precaution, and ordinary care, 
might have been restored to their large, helpless families and distracted relations, 
were hurried away in a few hours to their premature and unhonored graves, while 
those who should at once have provided for their salvation, at any cost and sacri- 
fice, were higgling about the means. What encouragement was it for a young 
professional man to expose himself to almost certain death for the paltry remun- 
eration of 17 shillings and 6 pence a day held out to those who tendered their ser- 
vices? What could be hoped for or expected from nurses who \vere willing to 
spend their nights and days in a fever hospital for three shillings a day. 

In the sheds were double tiers of bunks, the upper one about three feet above 
the lower. As the planks of the former were not placed close together, the filth 
from the sick fell upon those in the lower tier who were too weak to move. Filth 
was thus allowed to accumulate, and with so vast a crowd of fever cases in one 
place, and with no ventilation, generated a miasma so virulent and concentrated 
that few who came within its poisonous atmosphere escaped. Clergy, doctors, 
hospital attendants, servants, and police, fell ill one after the other and not a few 
of them succumbed. A number of the captains, officers and crews of the pest 
ships also died at Grosse Isle and some of the vessels were so decimated of these 
during the voyage across and so short-handed, that it is a wonder how they ever 
reached the island. 

Oftentimes there were two and sometimes three in a bed, without any distinc- 
tion of age, sex, or nature of illness. Corpses remained all night in the places 
where death occurred, even when there was a companion in the same bed, while 
the bodies that had been brought from the ships were piled like cordwood on the 
beach, without any covering over them, until such time as they were coffined. 

In the midst of this fierce Canadian summer, thousands of sick kept pouring 
into Grosse Isle. Not a drop of fresh water was to be found on the island, no 
lime juice, no clean straw even to protect the patients from the wet ground in the 
tents, while, in the beginning of July, with the thermometer at 98^ in the shade, 
hundreds were landed from the ships and thrown rudely, by the unfeeling crews, 
on the burning rocks, and there they remained whole nights and days without 
shelter of any kind. 

And as if this terrible, almost incredible state of affairs was not sufficient, 
outside the hospitals no order was observed. The very police, who were ap- 

__ Pwge Forty-Two 



THE G R O S S E - I S L E TRAGEDY 

pointed to maintain order, were the first to set an example of drunkenness and 
immorality. Is it to be wondered at then that great difficulty was experienced in 
retaining honest nurses or attendants, who had a reputation to sustain? On those 
days of the week, when the opportunity of leaving the island was offered by the 
arrival of the steamer from Quebec, a great number of servants insisted upon 
their discharge, but such applications were firmly refused, unless the applicant 
could produce a substitute. It is hardly necessary to say that many, so retained 
against their will, neglected their duty to the sick, and sought by every means to 
provoke their dismissal. 

Nurses were obliged to occupy a bed in the midst of the sick, and had no 
private apartment where they could change their clothing. Their food was the 
same as was given to the emigrant, and had to be taken, in haste, amid the effluvia 
of the sheds, and in this way, they were frequently infected with fever. When 
they fell sick, they were left to themselves. 

The report of these melancholy events, magnified by rumor, circulated in 
Quebec to such an extent that none were willing to expose themselves to a fate 
which seemed to wait on those who had the care of the sick. What happened? 
The door of the common jail was thrown open, and its loathsome inmates were 
sent to Grosse Isle to nurse the pure, helpless Irish youth. 




Page Forty- Three 



CHAPTER 
EIGHT 



Closing tfje (Quarantine 




"The Ides of March are come. 
Ay, Ccesar, but not gone." 

SHAKESPEARE. 

ROM the opening of the Quarantine Station in May to its closing at the 
end of October, there was no change in the heartrending tale of mis- 
ery and suffering. Vessels arrived daily with their cargo of sick, 
and in autumn, as in summer, unless some person, through kind- 
ness, for it was no one's business, brought a priest on board, the 
emigrant was allowed to die in sight of his clergy, without the supreme consola- 
tion of an Irish Catholic, the last rites of his Church. 

By the end of August, when thousands were resting in their graves, a num- 
ber of sheds, affording room for upwards of 3,000 sick, were finished and the sick 
were removed from the tents to them, while on Sunday, the i2th of September, 
the Catholic and Protestant churches, which had been used as hospitals, were re- 
opened for divine service. 

Quarantine closed on the 28th of October, as no more passenger vessels were 
expected, but on Sunday, the 7th of November, as the people from Diamond Har- 
bor, Quebec, were on the road to St. Patrick's church, they noticed a vessel com- 
ing up the river, which turned out to be the "Richard Watson" from Sligo, with 
165 passengers, one-fourth of whom were males, and the remainder women and 
children, all from the Irish estates of Lord Palmerston. As a fit ending to the sad 
emigration of this season, a more destitute, helpless lot never landed in Canada, 
penniless, and in rags, without shoes or stockings, without even straw to cover 
the boards of their bunks. When the Health Officer at Quebec, Dr. Parent, 
visited the ship, he noticed three poor children, the youngest about 2 years of age, 
sitting on the deck, altogether naked, huddled together, and shivering with the 
cpld (for winter had already set in), with a small piece of blanket thrown over 
them, while the widowed mother sat by without a copper in her possession. In 
another place h noticed a young woman whose only article of clothing was mads 
out of the canvas of a biscuit-bag. In fact, in more cases than one, the biscuit - 
bag was turned to that use. As for the men, their shreds of clothing were held 
together with cord. 




Page Forty- Four 




"THE OLD SOD." 

Shaun Connell's tall and straight, 
And in his limbs he is complete, 
He'll pitch a bar of any weight, 
From Garryowen to Thomond Gate. 



CHAPTER 

NINE 



<# Stye Beat!) 




Martyrs! who left for our reaping 

Truths you had sown in your blood 
Sinners! whom long years of weeping 

Chastened from evil to good. 
* * * * # 

Say, through what region enchanted 
Walk ye, in Heaven's sweet air? 

Say, to what spirits 'tis granted, 

Bright souls to dwell with you there? 

MOORE. 

ACCORDING to the official returns, the number of emigrants, who died 
in 1847 at sea and at Grosse Isle, was as follows : 4,092 at sea, 
1,190 on board of ship at Grosse Isle and 3,389 in Grosse Isle. 
Little reliance, however, can be placed in these as in most other 
official statistics. Other and more reliable reports declare that 
the total number of the dead and buried on Grosse Isle alone 
exceeded 10,000; while there is reason to believe that the total 
mortality among the Irish emigrants there and elsewhere in Canada amounted to 
over 25,000, to which must be added the numerous deaths caused by the spread of 
the pestilence from them among the Canadian clergy, medical profession and 
people. 

For instance, Dr. Douglas, the medical superintendent, estimated at 8,000 
the number who died and were buried at sea in 1847, while the decaying monu- 
ment in the graveyard at Grosse Isle, which is all that has remained since that 
terrible year to mark it, erected by him and eighteen other medical officers on duty 
there during that year, places at 5,424 the number of bodies interred in it; and 
the inscription on the great boulder that marked the last resting place of the emi- 
grant victims at Point St. Charles, Montreal, claims that 6,000 more were buried 
.there. On its different sides, the old memorial stone at Grosse Isle, erected by 
Dr. Douglas and his colleagues, bears the following inscriptions : 

On its eastern face : 

"In this secluded spot, lie the mortal icmains of 5,424 persons who, flying 
from pestilence and famine in Ireland, in the year 1847, found, in America, but a 
grave. " 

On the southern face : 

"To the memory of Dr. Benson, of Dublin, who died in this hospital on the 
27th May, 1847; 

"Dr. Alexandre Pinet, of Varennes, died on 24th July, 1847. 

"Dr. Alfred Malhiot, of Vercheres, died on the 22nd July, 1847. 

"Dr. John Jameson, of Montreal, died on the 2nd August, 1847, aged 34 
years. 

"These gentlemen were assistant medical officers of this hospital and all died 
of typhus fever contracted in the faithful discharge of their duty upon the sick." 

Looking north : 

"To the memory of Alfred Panet, medical officer of this establishment, who 
died of cholera, July, 1834. 

Dr. Robert Christie, medical assistant, who died of typhus in this hospital, 
on the 2nd of July, 1837. 

Page Forty-Five 



THE GROSSE-ISLE TRAGEDY 

And looking west : 

"Erected by Dr. Geo. M. Douglas, medical superintendent, and eighteen 
medical officers on duty in 1847." 

On the other hand, the entries at the port of Quebec for 1847 show 98,821 
emigrant arrivals, of whom 8,6qi were admitted to the quarantine hospital, 8,639 
of these having the fever and 51 the smallpox. Died of the fever, 3,227; of the 
smallpox, 12, which would leave a total of 5,453 discharged as cured. 

Bechard claims, however, that the discrepancy betwen the figure on the 
monument and that shown by the customs' entries and amounting to 2,186 less in 
the latter case, is easily explained by the fact that hundreds of the sufferers died 
after leaving the ships for the shore and before they could undergo proper medical 
examination and that, delirium being one of the symptoms of typhoid fevers, a 
great many others, on landing, made their escape to the woods on the island, 
where they died and were buried on the spots where they had breathed their last, 
the finders subsequently of their remains being afraid to remove them. He, there- 
fore, with most of the survivors of that trying time, places the total deaths and 
burials not only in the cemetery, but all over the island, at 12,000, while to these 
must be added 189 more who were passengers on the ill-fated emigrant ship 
"Carrick," which was lost with them off Cape Rosier on the voyage. In the same 
connection, J. M. O'Leary says : 

"What was the character of the emigration? The emptying of poor-houses 
and hospitals, the shipment of the starving, the penniless and the fever-stricken, 
not in small numbers, but in multitudes, crammed on board of ship, as if they 
were beasts, uncared for as to food and medicine, and their prospects upon land- 
ing in Canada altogether left to that chance assistance which Government aid or 
private benevolence could supply. And what was the result? 4,192 died at sea; 
1,190 died on board of ship at Grosse Isle; 3,389 died in Grosse Isle; 712 died in 
the Marine Hospital at Quebec; 5,330 died at Point St. Charles, Montreal; 71 
died in St. John, N.B. ; 130 died at Lachine; 863 died in Toronto, and 3,048 in 
other places in Ontario 16,825 out of an emigration of 97,953, though I feel con- 
fident the mortality was far greater. However, I have given official figures. 

"In their temporary sojourn in Canada the Irish emigrants fresh from the 
fever sheds of Grosse Isle, scattered pestilence and death far and wide, depriving 
society of some of its best, its most valuable and its most cherished members. 

"Such conduct on the part of the landlords of Ireland, in sending them out, 
was most cruel to the emigrants themselves, rendering most bitter the last sor- 
rows of a shortened life, by casting them out from their native soil to die at sea 
or in a distant land. 

"Quebec and Ontario were not alone in the infliction of indigent and diseased 
emigration, so recklessly forced upon them, for each and all of the colonies suf- 
fered more or less from those causes. 

"In New Brunswick, for example, upwards of 15,000 emigrants landed at St. 
John. They comprised aged and worn-out people, widows and orphans, sent off 
at the expense of their former landlords to relieve their estates from supporting 
them. 

"According to official returns the number of passengers that sailed for Quebec 
was as follows : 



Page Forty-Six 



THE 



GROS'SE-ISLE 



TRAGEDY 



Cabin 696 

Steerage 97>953 

Births at sea and at Grosse Isle 172 98,821 

Died on the passage and at quarantine 5,282 

Died in quarantine 3*389 8,671 

Landed in Quebec in 1847 90,150 

'Now, for the countries from which they sailed : 

STEERAGE PASSENGERS 

No. of Cabin Children from 

: AILED FROM Vessels Passengers Adults 1 to 14 years 

of age Infants 

Male Female Male Female 

England 140 217 12.101 8.692 4.927 4.585 2.349 

Ireland 224 295 19.012 16.037 8.432 7.817 2.869 

Scotland 42 175 1 .995 .996 .636 .562 . 163 

Germany 36 9 3 . 449 2 .003 . 899 .933 . 226 

442 696 35.827 27.728 14.894 13.897 5.607 

RECAPITULATION 

Steerage passengers 

Adults 63,555 

Children 28,791 

Infants 5> 6 7 97>953 

SAILED FROM IRISH PORTS 

Belfast 6,826 

Ballyshannon 64 

Cork 10,228 

Donegal 814 

Dublin 6,530 

Galway 738 

Killala i ,346 

Kilrash 149 

L ndonderry 3>5 21 

J imerick 9, 100 

New Ross 4*384 

Newry i ,488 

SHgo 5,663 

Westport 61 

Waterford 3>O37 

Youghal 318 



Total 54i*37 

"It was estimated that of the 20,483 who sailed from Liverpool, 
upwards of 20,000 were Irish. 

Page Forty-Seven 



THE 



GROSSE-ISLE 



TRAGEDY 



DIED ON THE PASSAGE OR ON BOARD AT QUARANTINE 



SAILED FROM 


Adults 


Children from 1 to 14 
years of age 


Infanta 


Male 


Female 


Male 


Female 


England 


556 
741 
14 

18 


397 
500 
7 
10 


667 
516 
17 
23 


541 
492 
15 
21 


351 
356 
16 
24 


Ireland ... 


Scotland . . 


Germany . . . 




1,329 


914 


1,223 


1,069 


747 



RECAPITULATION 



Adults 


2.2d^ 




Children . . . . 


2.2Q2 






74.7 








Soft? 




DEATHS IN QUARANTINE 


,202 



SAILED FROM 


Adults 


Children from 1 to 14 
years of age 


Infants 


Male 


Female 


Male 


Female 


England . .... 


659 
719 
10 


470 
471 
6 
1 


235 
211 

7 


248 
187 
4 


86 
71 
4 


Ireland 


Scotland . . 


Germany 






1,388 


948 


453 


439 


161 



RECAPITULATION 



Adults 2,336 

Children 892 

Infants 161 3,389 



BIRTHS ON BOARD AND IN QUARANTINE 



England 
Ireland . . 
Scotland . 
Germany . 



Male. Female. 
3i 33 

47 45 



Total 



85 87 

Page Forty-Eight 



THE G R O S S E - I S L E TRAGEDY 

"It has been acknowledged that the money left by emigrants who died with- 
out relatives in Grosse Isle from the i6th May to the 2ist October, 1847, amount- 
ed to upwards of 829 sterling, varying in sums from 2^d. to .129. In some 
cases the money was returned to their relatives in Ireland, or in different parts of 
Canada. In other cases it was used for the orphans of the deceased. But 
there is no doubt that a good deal more money belonging to the dead or sick emi- 
grants was never acknowledged, as it was appropriated by unscrupulous nurses 
and orderlies. 

"There also remained unclaimed two hundred and four boxes and trunks, a 
large number of feather beds, and a great quantity of wearing apparel. 

"We come now to the number of clergymen, doctors, hospital attendants and 
others who contracted the fever and died in 1847 while in attendance on the sick 
emigrants at Grosse Isle." 

Of the 26 doctors employed on the island during the fever period, 22 sickened 
and 4 died; of the 29 hospital stewards, 21 sickened and 3 died; of the 10 police, 
8 were attacked by the fever and 3 died, and of the 186 nurses, orderlies and 
cooks, 76 contracted the disease and 22 died. The carters engaged to remove the 
sick, the dying and the dead, furnished 2 victims, while the clerks, bakers and 
other servants and officials supplied 4 more. 




Page Forty-Nine 



jflournful Jf igurcs 




"Man's inhumanity to man makes 
countless thousands mourn." 

ROBERT BURNS. 

T would take infinitely more space than can be disposed of to re- 
produce the names of the Irish emigrants who fell victims to the 
pestilence and were buried at sea or at Grosse Isle, not to speak 
at all of those who died in Quebec, Montreal, Ottawa, Kingston, 
Toronto and elsewhere in Canada. But anyone anxious or cur- 
ious to see and consult the sad lists can do so by referring to the 
Quebec newspapers of 1847, the Gazette, Mercury and Chronicle, 
from May to the end of December, as well as the Montreal and Toronto papers of 
the same period. Whole columns and even pages of the Quebec papers, espec- 
ially, will be found filled with the names of the dead compiled from the reports of 
the different shipmasters on arrival and the official weekly returns from the hospi- 
tals at Grosse Isle. It is well, however, to note that too much reliance cannot be 
placed on these statistics. They are unquestionably far from complete and far 
from accurate. Many of the names are clearly given incorrectly, while there is a 
multitude of the victims, whose names are declared to be unknown, their relatives, 
friends or acquaintances, who could have identified them, having probably been 
all swept away by the plague. 

Th^ general reader, however, can form an idea of the terrible death rate and 
the burials at sea from the following reports handed in by some of the shipmas- 
ters : 

Ship Port of Sailing. Died at Sea Ship Port of Sailing. Died at Sea 

Lord Sandon, Cork 19 Agnes, Cork 63 

Jessie, Limerick 36 Caithness-shire, Belfast 14 

Sarah Maria, Sligo 6 Bic, Cork 106 

Sobraon, Liverpool 47 Argos, Liverpool 42 

John Bell, New Ross 7 Mary Brack, Limerick 8 

New York Packet, Liverpool .... 9 George, Liverpool 75 

Elliots, Dublin 12 Ninian, Limerick 30 

Ann, Liverpool 3 Aberden, Liverpool 30 

Solway, New Ross 3 Eliza Caroline, Liverpool 49 

Rose, Liverpool 98 Dominica, Cork 5 

Coromandel, Dublin 12 Thompson, Sligo 7 

Constitution, Belfast 5 Pacha, Cork 1 1 

Scotland, Cork 94 Josepha, Belfast 2 

Fay, Sligo 1 1 Princess Royal, Liverpool 26 

Wave, Dublin 5 Standard, New Ross 9 

Columbia, Sligo 20 Gilmour, Cork 28 

John Francis, Cork 23 Charlotte Hosmer, Greenock 2 

Wolfville, Sligo 63 Albion, Limerick 18 

John Bolton, Liverpool 105 Mail, Cork 29 

Dykes, Sligo 19 Wilhelmina, Belfast 4 

Carisholme, London 28 Sisters, Liverpool 102 



Page Fifty 




BLIND IRISH PIPER 

"0, the days of the Kerry dancing, 0, the ring of the piper's 

tune ! 
0, for one of those hours of gladness, gone, alas ! like our 

youth too soon; 

When the boys began to gather in the glen of a summer night, 
And the Kerry piper's tuning made us long with wild delight. 
O, to think of it, 0, to dream of it, fills my heart with tears." 



THE GROSSE-ISLE TRAGEDY 

Ship Port of Sailing. Died at Sea Ship Port of Sailing. Died at Sea 

Araminta, Liverpool 29 Free Trader, Liverpool 54 

Thetis, Limerick 3 Mariner, Dublin 8 

Pursuit, Liverpool 42 Lilias, Dublin 6 

Lady Gordon, Belfast 14 Ayrshire, Newry 3 

Avon, Donegal I Ganges, Liverpool 21 

Nuna, Sligo 10 Larch, Sligo 140 

Mary, Sligo 1 1 Saguenay, Cork 83 

Euclid, Glasgow 3 Agent, New Ross 9 

Greenock, Liverpool 23 Agnes & Ann, Newry 7 

Asia, Cork 13 New Zealand, Newry 7 

A. Stewart, Limerick 3 City of Derry , London 7 

Blenheim, Portsmouth 12 Junior, Liverpool 13 

Agamemnon, Liverpool 26 Aberfoyle, Waterford 7 

Diamond, Liverpool 5 Emily, Cork 9 

Marchioness of Bute, Blfast 20 Independent, Belfast 7 

Abbeylands, Liverpool 4 Camilla, Sligo ^ 

Leander, Londonderry /. 4 Admiral, Waterford 6 

XL, Galway 2 Ellen, Sligo 6 

Oregon, Killala 9 Margaret, New Ross 25 

Allan Lee, Sligo 12 Progress, New Ross 32 

Pandora, New Ross 15 Unicorn, Londonderry 4 

Chas. Walton, Killala 14 Tamarac, Liverpool 33 

Marchioness of Abercorn London- Jas. Moran, Liverpool 13 

derry 10 Venotia, Limerick 13 

Ann Kenny, Waterford 4 Tom, Dublin 14 

Broon, Liverpool 25 Wakefield, Cork 25 

John & Robert, Liverpool 14 Golden Spray, London 3 

Lady Campbell, Dublin 15 Collingwood, London 4 

Rosalinda, Belfast 17 Charlotte, Plymouth 2 

Sir H. Pottinger, Cork 105 Alert, Waterford 5 

Royal Adelaide, Killala 1 1 Medusa, Cork 2 

Covenanter, Cork 59 Chas. Richards, Sligo 9 

Frankfield, Liverpool 16 Jhn Jardine, Liverpool 12 

Odessa, Dublin 26 Thistle, Liverpool 7 

Yorkshire, Liverpool 53 Manchester, Liverpool 1 1 

Countess, Donegal 2 Free Briton, Cork 6 

Westmoreland, Sligo 9 Goliah, Liverpool C i 

Vesta, Limerick 2 Sarah, Liverpool 31 

Naomi, Liverpool 107 Triton, Liverpool 93 

Annie Maud, Limerick 2 Jessie, Cork 43 

Marchioness of Breadalbane, Sligo 12 Erin's Queen, Liverpool 32 

Virginius, Liverpool 158 Avon, Cork 163 

John Munn, Liverpool 70 Ajax, Liverpool 9 

Eliz Simpson, Limerick 4 Abbotsford, Dublin 16 

Minerva, Galway 9 Fay, Liverpool 13 

Corean, Liverpool 17 Lotus, Liverpool 2 

Page Fifty-One 



THE GROS;SE-ISLE TRAGEDY 

Ship Port of Sailing. Died at Sea Ship Port of Sailing. Died at Sea 

Sesostris, Londonderry 12 Herald, Dublin , 4 

Louisa, Limerick 4 Syria, Liverpool 9 

Eagle, Dublin 6 Wandsworth, Dublin 51 

Jane Avery, Dublin 10 Royalist, Liverpool 26 

Trade, Waterford 3 Achilles, Liverpool 42 

Lady Miller, Liverpool 27 Blonde, Liverpool 13 

Lady Flora Hastings, Cork 63 Henry, Donegal jo 

Nelson Village, Belfast 17 &c., &c., &c. 

The Grosse Isle weekly hospital returns showed a gradually ascending death 
rate until well on in September, when the epidemic appeared to decrease. 

As showing the reckless way in which the flying emigrants were crammed into 
the holds of ships altogether inadequate to receive and accommodate their num- 
bers, the following figures of the number carried by a few of the principal vessels 
sailing from Irish and British ports to Quebec in 1847 are suggestive : 

From Limerick. Nerio, 132; Jessie, 479; Mary, 101 ; Bryan Abbs, 185; Ann, 
119; Primrose, 334; Celesta, 199; Ninian, 258. 

From Dublin. Perseverance, 310; Wandsworth, 531. 

From Belfast. Lord Seaton, 299; Caithness, 240; Chieftain, 245; Lady Gor- 
don, 206; W. Pirrie, 414. 

From Cork. Scotland, 563; Urania, 199; Agnes, 437; Tottenham, 228; Bee, 
373; Ganges, 410; John Francis, 253; Try Again, 184. 

From Waterford. Thistle, 196. 

From New Ross. Standard, 363. 

From Sligo. Wolfville, 309. 

From Plymouth. Spermaceti, 252. 

From Liverpool. John Bolton, 580; Clarendon, 286; George, 394; Phoenix, 
276; Burnace, 370; Lotus, 535; Achilles, 413; Blonde, 427; Loothaut, 428, 
Sisters, 508, &c., &c. 



Page Fifty-Two 



CHAPTER 
ELEVEN 



JUmonsitrances: of Clergy anb people 




"What do you read, my lord? 
Words, words, words." 

HAMLET, ACT II. 

N every section of the British North American Provinces, repeated 
remonstrances were published, but without effect, against the 
iniquitous system of transferring to their shores the needy, the sick, 
the helpless, and the aged. On the 25th of June the Parliament of 
Canada besought the Queen's interference, "under the affliction 
with which this land has been visited, and is still further threatened, 
not to permit the helpless, the starving, the sick and diseased, unequal, and unfit 
as they are to face the hardships of a settler's life, to embark for these shores, 
which if they reach, they reach in too many instances, only to find a grave." At 
this time the Emigration Department was under the control of the British Gov- 
ernment. 

Earl Grey, as Colonial Secretary, acknowledged to the Governor-General, 
Lord Elgin, the receipt of the petition, and promised that it would receive "serious 
consideration." "In the meantime," he added, "I have to direct Your Lord- 
ship's attention to the importance of enforcing the strictest economy in affording 
such assistance to the emigrants as may be absolutely necessary, and of not losing 
sight of the danger that the grant of such assistance, if not strictly guarded, may 
have the effect of inducing the emigrants to relax their exertions to provide for 
themselves." 

On the ist of December, 1847, Earl Grey wrote a letter to Lord Elgin, in 
which he stated that he purposely deferred answering his despatches of the 28th of 
June, and i3th July, on the subject of the immigration to Canada, until the ter- 
mination of the season for emigration had enabled him to review all that had taken 
place during its progress. Among other things, he said : "I need scarcely assure 
Your Lordship that the calamities as described in your despatches, and in the pub- 
lic journals of the colony, have caused to us most sincere and lively sorrow, but 
upon looking back at the melancholy history of these sufferings, it is at least some 
consolation to us to reflect that they do not appear to have been produced, or 
aggravated by our measures, or by our having neglected any precautions that it 
was in our power to adopt." 

In the next paragraph can be traced the doings of the Irish landlord : 

"It is no slight gratification to us, now, to remember that strongly as we 
were urged, in the beginning of the present year, to take measures for carrying 
emigration from Ireland to a much greater extent than that to which it could 
naturally attain, and to increase the multitudes who flocked unaided to America, 
by providing, at the public expense, for the conveyance across the Atlantic of a 
large additional number of those who were anxious thus to fly from distress in 
Ireland, we steadily refused to do this, and abstained from giving any artificial 
stimulus to the tide of emigration, while, at the same time, we took such precau- 
tions as were in our power to investigate as far as possible the sufferings to which 
we foresaw that even this spontaneous emigration would most probably give 
rise." 

In treating of the question of restraining emigration, he said, "it would have 
been practically impossible, and, if possible, it would have been inhuman and un- 
just to have interfered by an exercise of the authority of the Legislature, or of 

Page Fifty-Three 



THE GROS'SE-ISLE TRAGEDY 

the Executive Government, to detain at home the multitudes, who, during the 
past year, have endeavoured to escape from misery and starvation by emigration 
from Ireland to America; and also, that the emigration of so large a number of 
persons, who had previously suffered so severely from the consequences of that 
visitation with which it pleased Providence to afflict us, inevitably led to the break- 
ing out of disease which could not be prevented from spreading itself, from the 
emigrants to the inhabitants of the colonies to which they flocked." 

In the same letter Earl Grey reminds the Governor-General that should the 
Parliament of Canada pass a law respecting emigration, "the regulations should 
not, by their severity, throw needless obstructions in the way of intercourse be- 
tween the Queen's dominions on this and on the opposite side of the Atlantic, 
which is of the utmost importance to both. 

"With regard, therefore, to any bill for the regulation of emigrant ships, 
which may be tendered for your acceptance by the other branches of the Provin- 
cial Legislature, it will be your duty to carefully consider its provisions before 
you assent to it, and to decline doing so if you should judge that it is of too 
injurious a character." 

On the Qth June, 1847, His Grace the Archbishop of Quebec, Joseph Signal, 
addressed a letter to the hierarchy of Ireland, telling each one that, "the voice 
of religion and humanity imposes on me the sacred and imperative duty of expos- 
ing to Your Lordship the dismal fate that awaits thousands of the unfortunate 
children of Ireland who come to seek in Canada an asylum from the countless 
evils afflicting them in their native land. 

"Already a considerable number of vessels overloaded with emigrants from 
Ireland have arrived in the waters of the St. Lawrence. During the passage, 
many of them, weakened beforehand by misery and starvation, have contracted 
fatal diseases, and the greater part have thus become the victims of an untimely 
death. This was but the result of their precarious situation. Crowded in the 
holds of the vessels, unable to strictly adhere to the rules of cleanliness, breathing 
constantly a putrid atmosphere, and relying frequently for nourishment upon in- 
sufficient and very bad provisions, it was morally impossible to escape, safe and 
sound, from so many causes of destruction. 

"Anchoring at Grosse Isle, about thirty miles below Quebec, where they are 
compelled to perform quarantine, the trans-Atlantic vessels are mostly infected 
with sick and dying emigrants. Last week more than two thousand patients were 
detained at the station, of whom more than a half had to remain on board, in 
some cases abandoned by their friends, spreading contagion among the healthy 
passengers who were confined in the vessels, and exhibiting the heartrending spec- 
tacle of a mortality three times greater than what prevailed on shore. Already 
more than a thousand human beings have been consigned to their eternal rest in 
the Catholic cemeteries, precursors of thousands who will join them there if the 
stream of emigration from Ireland continues to flow in the same abundance. 

"One Catholic clergyman alone, in ordinary circumstances, ministered to the 
spiritual wants of the quarantine station, but this year the services of even seven 
at a time have been indispensably required to afford to the dying emigrants the 
last rites and consolations of their cherished religion. 

"Two of these gentlemen are actually lying on the bed of sickness from the 
extreme fatigues they have undergone, and the fever they have contracted in visit- 
ing the infected vessels and the hospitals on the island, to accomplish the duties of 
their sacred ministry and gladden the last moments of the Irish emigrants 

"The details we receive of the scenes of horror and desolation of which the 

Page Fifty-Four 



THE GROS'SE-ISLE TRAGEDY 

chaplains are daily witnesses, almost stagger belief and baffle description. Most 
despairingly and immeasurably do they affect us, as the available means are 
totally inadequate to apply an effectual remedy to such awful calamities. Many 
of the unfortunate emigrants, who escape from Grosse Isle in good health, pay 
tribute to the prevailing disease either at Quebec or Montreal, and overcrowd 
the hospitals of these two cities, where temporary buildings are erected for the 
reception of a great number without still affording sufficient accommodation. 
Amid the present confusion we have had neither leisure nor opportunity to ascer- 
tain the number of orphans and families that are thrown for support on public 
charity. 

"I deem it also necessary to mention that those who have escaped from the 
fatal influence of disease are far from realizing, on their arrival here, the ardent 
hopes they so fondly cherished of meeting with unspeakable comfort and prosperity 
on the banks of the St. Lawrence. To attain so desirable an end they should pos- 
sess means, which the greater number have not, and which cannot be rendered 
available and efficacious, unless emigration be conducted on a more diminished 
scale. 

"I submit these facts to your consideration that Your Lordship may use every 
endeavour to dissuade your diocesans from emigrating in such numbers to Can- 
ada, where they will but too often meet with either a premature death or a fate 
not less deplorable than the heartrending condition under which they groan in 
their unhappy country. Your Lordship will thus open their eyes to their true 
interests and prevent the honest, religious and confiding Irish peasantry from be- 
ing the victims of speculation, and falling into irretrievable errors and irreparable 
calamities." 

On the 1 2th July, 1847, the Earl of Enniskillen, after reading the above letter 
at the session of -the House of Lords, said he was disposed to apprehend that the 
Government of Canada had, to a certain extent, been taken by surprise by the 
influx of emigrants, and he wished to know the views of the Government in the 
matter. 

Earl Grey grieved to say that it was true the Government had received ac- 
counts of most deplorable sufferings endured by the emigrants. He had antici- 
pated that this would be the case, and his anticipation had unfortunately turned 
out to be correct. A large number of the emigrants having endured, during the 
previous winter, extreme suffering, the consequence was that though the ships 
that carried them out were quite as well provided as emigrant ships usually were, 
the mere change of life, combined with their weakened state, had been productive 
of fever. Acordingly, on arriving in the St. Lawrence, it was found necessary 
that they should be detained in a quarantine station. Lord Elgin lost not a 
moment in adopting the most prompt and energetic measures to meet the evil, 
having been already warned by him (Grey) that evils of this kind were likely to 
arise. Application was made by Lord Elgin to the Ordnance Department, and 
tents for the use of 10,000 persons were got ready, and means taken to erect sheds 
for their accommodation. A large number of additional medical officers were 
also engaged to render assistance. In short, all that human skill, or art could 
effect for the relief of these unhappy persons was put into requisition. Measures 
of precaution had likewise been taken in advance, the usual vote for assisting 
emigrants having been greatly increased ; and Lord Elgin had been instructed, 
in full confidence, that Parliament would, under the circumstances, acquiesce 
in the arrangement to take all the measures best calculated to mitigate the suffer- 
ings of the emigrant, by providing increased medical attendance and greater ac- 
commodation, even if, for that purpose, it was necessary to exceed the amount 
Fifty-Five 



THE GROSS E - ISLE TRAGEDY 

of the vote granted by Parliament for that attendance. He trusted that the 
advice which had been given by the Reverend Prelate, to whose letter the noble 
Lord had referred, might not have the effect of discouraging* and checking emi- 
gration in future years, because the sufferings to which the emigrant had recently 
been subjected were undoubtedly to be traced entirely to the consequence of the 
distress which had operated in Ireland." 

The advice given from this side of the Atlantic was too late for action, for,! 
by the time it reached home, many a once happy homestead was deserted and 
its inmates beyond recall. 

But, if the Imperial Government was primarily responsible for the terrible 
infliction on Canada in 1847, it tried to make financial reparation for that respon- 
sibility by paying all o: most of the cost of the establishment of the Grosse Isle 
quarantine and its expenses during the epidemic. This cost amounted to over 
$1,000,000 and included the medical relief of the sick, the support and inland 
transport of the destitute, hospital buildings and expenses, provisions to destitute 
healthy emigrants in detention, and expenses of the medical commission, etc. But 
the Canadian Government and the local authorities in Lower and Upper Canada 
had aLo to bear a heavy share of the burthen. 




Page Fifty-Six 




FIRST CANADIAN CARDINAL, LATE MGR. E. A. TASCHEREAU 

Who when a Young Priest in 1847, Ministarad to the Sick and 
Dying at Grosse-lsle 




<* Wit Canadian Clergy 



"Who, in the winter's night, 

So g garth Aroon, 
When the cold blast did bite, 

So g garth Aroon, 
Came to my cabin door, 
And, on the earthen floor, 
Knelt by me, sick and poor, 
So g garth Aroon, 
Soggarth Aroon!* 

JOHN BANIM. 

PEN can do adequate justice to the remarkable zeal, the noble hero- 
ism, the wonderful self-sacrifice, and the admirable devotedness to 
duty of the Canadian clergy, both Catholic and Protestant, during 
the terrible ordeal of 1847. In the sacred cause of religion and 
humanity, they faced death like true soldiers of the Cross and to 
many a poor suffering mortal they brought supreme consolation in 
his last agony. They also labored unceasingly to succor the physical wants 
of the fever patients and relieve their physical distress, and the hard fate of 
many an unfortunate victim was alleviated by their loving care and their sacred 
ministrations. No one, who does not properly understand the Irish character 
and Irish traditions, can properly appreciate what all this meant to the sick and 
dying refugees on Grosse Isle. The names of these good Samaritans, of these 
worthy Levites, deserve, therefore, to be emblazoned in undying lustre on the roll 
of fame. Not a few of them fell victims themselves to the dreadful contagion, 
while a still larger number caught it and were carried almost to death's door by 
it, but happily survived. 

In the darkest hour of their affliction, the Irish Catholic emigrants at Grosse 
Isle found true friends in the Irish and French Catholic missionary priests, who 
volunteered to go to their relief and, if it was God's will, to also die with them 
and for them. 

The honor list included William Wallace Moylan, Bernard McGauran, 
James C. McDevitt, Pierre Telesphore Sax, James Nelligan, C. Z. Rousseau, An- 
toine Campeau, Hugh Robson, Jos. Bailey, L. Provancher, Michel Forgues, 
Thos. Caron, N. Belanger, L. A. Proulx, Hugh McGuirk, James McDonnell, Luc 
Trahan, P. H. Jean, J. B. A. Ferland (the Canadian historian), John Harper, 
F. S. Bardy, Ed. Montminy, Bernard O'Reilly (afterwards Mgr. O'Reilly, of New 
York, a celebrated preacher and litterateur), L. A. Dupuis, J. B. Perras, Moise 
Duguay, Maxime Tardif, Michael Kerrigan, J. C. O'Grady, Elzear Alexandre 
Taschereau (afterwards Archbishop of Quebec and the first Canadian Cardinal), 
Edward John Horan (afterwards Bishop of Kingston, Ont. ), P. Beaumont, W. 
Dunn, E. Payment, E. Halle, J. H. Dorion, Hugh Paisley, C. Tardif, A. Lebel, 
P. Gariepy, Godfroy Tremblay, L. S. Malo, Pierre Roy and Michael Power. 

Of these heroes, no less than 19 contracted the fever, including the two later 
princes of the Church, Fathers Taschereau and Horan, while 6 of them died : Rev. 
Messrs. Hubert Robson, Ed. Montminy, Hugh Paisley, F. S. Bardy, Michael 
Power and Pierre Roy. Father Robson was the maternal uncle of Messrs. 

* Priest dear. 
Page Fifty-Seven- 



THE 



GROSSE-ISLE 



TRAGEDY 



Joseph Archer, one of Quebec's leading citizens, John Archer, also of Quebec, and 
Robert Archer, of Montreal, and was of English extraction. Father Paisley, who 
was rector of St. Catherine's, Portneuf Co., was of Scotch descent. 

Of this gallant band of ecclesiastical heroes, only one, as already seen the 
venerable Father McGuirk is now living, as far as known. Another of the 
pioneer priests of New Brunswick, who played the hero's part at Grosse Isle in 
1847 was the Revd. James Charles McDevitt, who survived until quite recently, 
dying at Fredericton, N.B., only a couple of years since. Father McDevitt, who 
was born in Donegal in 1823, emigrated with his parents while yet a child to St. 
John, N.B., where he received his primary education in the local schools and his 
classical and theological training at Wilmington, Del., and Philadelphia, from 
which latter place he graduated with honors. Being too young for ordination, 
he entered the Seminary of Quebec, where he continued his studies. In 1847 he* 
was asked to go to the quarantine station at Grosse Isle, where several priests 
had died and many others were ill with the fever. He consented to go, was 
ordained a priest and immediately started for the quarantine station, where, after 
nursing the fever-stricken patients for some time, he contracted the disease him- 
self. He was removed to the Hotel-Dieu Hospital at Quebec, where he was ill 
with the fever for thirteen weeks. Upon his recovery, he removed to Freder- 
icton, N.B., to assist the late Bishop Dollard, and except for two years, 1847-9, 
spent at Grosse Isle and at St. Andrew's, had charge from that time of St. Dun- 
stan's parish, N.B. His mission extended over thirty miles and comprised 
Fredericton, Cork, New Market, Acton, Oromocto, Maugerville, Stanley, St. 
Mary's, Nashuaaksis, French Village and Allendale. During this long period 
he built the commodious brick convent, the parochial residence, St. Dunstan's 
Hall and Orphanage. He also purchased the Hermitage and erected a small 
building thereon, in which he conducted a school for many years and educated a 
number of young men for the priesthood. 

The first to reach Grosse Isle in the spring of 1847 to exercise their holy min- 
istry were Rev. Messrs. McGauran (afterwards for many years the revered pas- 
tor of St. Patrick's church, Quebec), and McDonnell. These two good Samari- 
tans got no rest either during night or day, except during the few moments that 
human nature could stand the terrible strain no longer. Very often they had no 
time to remove their boots, so swollen were their feet from fatigue. Finally both 
devoted priests took the disease and were removed back to Quebec, but, on their 
recovery, they returned to Grosse Isle, which Father McGauran was the last to 
leave on 28th October on the "Alliance," with a number of emigrants, five of 
whom died between Quarantine and Quebec. 

It is stated that, in all, at Grosse Isle, Quebec, Montreal, Kingston, Toronto 
and other parts of Lower and Upper Canada, as well as of New Brunswick, 26 
Catholic priests and 18 nuns fell victims to their devotion during the epidemic of 
1847, the number including the Right Reverend Bishop Power, of Toronto. But 
a very much larger number also took the fever and only recovered from it after 
long suffering. 

At Quebec, the French and English-speaking Catholic clergy also distiag- 
uished themselves in ministering to the fever-stricken among their own flocks and 
to the discharged emigrants and convalescents brought up from the island char- 
nel-house only to scatter the seeds of the contagion, far and wide, and the same 
may be said of the Catholic clergy at Montreal and elsewhere. The presbytery of 
St. Patrick's church, Quebec, and its then incumbent, the deservedly celebrated 
Father McMahon, were the centres around which these exiles chiefly revolved, 

: Page Fifty-Eifrht 





LATE BISHOP GEO. J. MOUNTAIN 

Of the Church of England, Quebec, who 
acted so heroic a part in ministering to the 
Protestant fever patients at Grosse Isle in 

1847. 



REV. JAMES NEVILLE 

Irish Catholic Missionary at Grosse Islo 
in 1871. An ardent advocate of the Nation- 
al Monument there. 






LATE REV. BERNAKD McGAURAN 

One of the two devoted Irish Catholic 
priests, w r ho were the lirst to hasten to 
the assistance of Father Moylan, the then 
resident chaplain, in ministering to the suf- 
ferers at Grosse Isle in 1847, and who were 
themselves prostrated by the fever, but re 
covered and returned 10 the exercise of 
their duty on the island until the close of 
the terrible season. 



LATE REV. JAMES McDONNELL 

One -of the two devoted Irish-Catholic 
priests who were the first to hasten to 
the assistance of Father Moylan, the 
then resident chaplain, in ministering 
to the sufferers at Grosse-Isle in 1847, 
and who were themselves prostrated 
by the fever, but recovered and return- 
ed to the exercise of their duty on 
the island 'until the close of the terrible 
season. 



THE GROS:SE-ISLE TRAGEDY 

and it is no exaggeration to say that they had no truer or more tireless and de- 
voted friends than that worthy priest and his assistants and the late Vicar-General 
Cazeau, of the Quebec Archdiocese. And there was scarcely a Sunday that 
Father McMahon did not use his remarkable eloquence to explain the gravity of 
the situation and to appeal for help for the sufferers. But there was a humor- 
ous side sometimes to these appeals. In one of them made from the pulpit of St. 
Patrick's on loth October, 1847, he read a list of the emigrants who had been 
separated from their families and who took this method of finding them out and 
a letter received from Ireland addressed "To my Aunt Biddy," for a like purpose, 
which, he remarked, was too vague even for his comprehension or power of 
divination. 

Nor did the Protestant, and especially the Church of England clergy, lag be- 
hind their Catholic colleagues in the desperate fight with death. The great and 
good Anglican Bishop Mountain, of Quebec, was the first to set the noble exam- 
ple to them. No sooner had the fever outbreak at Grosse Isle declared itself than 
he issued a stirring appeal to them for volunteers to man the breach there, propos- 
ing to first step into it himself and the others in turn to each spend a week on the 
island in the exercise of their ministry. The response to this appeal was prompt 
and hearty and the poor Protestant sick, who composed about one-tenth of the 
whole fevered and festering mass, had the consolation of being attended by the 
ministers of their faith in their dying hours. In this respect the bishop led the 
way by going to and remaining on the island to the 15-th June, returning to it 
later for another week in August to succor the sick and comfort the dying. On the 
i6th June he was followed by Rev. J. Torrance and others. In all, during the 
ordeal at Grosse Isle, the Church of England was represented there by 17 of its 
clergy, 7 of whom contracted the disease and 2 died, the latter being Rev. Richard 
Anderson and Rev. Charles J. Morris. Among those who sickened, but recov- 
ered, were Rev. E. C. Parkin and Rev. J. Butler, the latter being the Anglican 
missionary at Kingsey, and the former a brother of one of the most eminent mem- 
bers of the Quebec Bar during the last century, the late J. B. Parkin, K.C. 

In his "Story of the First Hundred Years of the Diocese of Quebec, prepared 
for the Centenary Celebration on Thursday, June ist, 1893," the late Venerable 
Archdeacon Roe, who died only quite recently at an advanced age, and who was 
rector of St. Matthew's Anglican church, Quebec, in 1847, placed the number of 
the Protestant clergy (Anglican) on duty at Grosse Isle during that fearful season 
at 14 only, including Bishop Mountain, though other accounts make it 17. 
Under the caption of "The Martyr Clergy of 1847," Archdeacon Roe said: 

"No sketch of the history of the diocese of Quebec could pass over in silence 
the heroism with which the Bishop and his clergy jeoparded their lives during the 
awful visitation of ship fever in 1847. In the spring of that year, following upon 
the fearful Irish famine of the winter of 1846, tens of thousands of poor famine 
stricken Irish emigrants fled to Canada, bringing with them typhus fever in its 
most malignant form; were carried ashore out of the emigrant vessels at our 
quarantine station at Grosse Isle, and there died in thousands. No language 
could adequately describe the horrors of the months of that awful summer. The 
island was almost literally covered with the poor dying people, men, women and 
children ; the emigrant sheds, the churches, every available building, nearly one 
hundred tents overflowed with them, and many were lying in the open air. There 
were for much of the time as many as seventeen or eighteen hundred down with 
the fever on the island, and half as many more afloat in the ships, for whom room 

Page Fifty-Nine 



THE GROSSE-1SLE TRAGEDY 

could not be made ashore. The description of the scenes given in extracts from 
the Bishop's private letters printed in his Memoir, the suffering, the filth, the 
sickening stenches, the cries of the dying people, the wailing of orphans, is 
most heartrending. 

"The heroic Bishop met this awful irruption of plague, as he had met the 
inroad of cholera fifteen years before, with a calm courage, which communicated 
itself to others. Taking the first turn at Grosse Isle himself, after Mr. Forest, 
the chaplain for the season, was prostrated by the disease, and a second later on, 
he invited such of the clergy of the diocese as seemed most able for the service* 
to offer themselves for the work of ministering to their poor dying fellow crea- 
tures, each to take one week. To this call fourteen of the clergy responded. It 
was surely a sublime devotion for men to leave their own quiet, healthy country 
parishes, their wives and their children, and go far away down into the valley of 
death in that lonely plague-stricken island. Of the fifteen clergymen of our 
Church, (being the only Protestant ministers in attendance) who served at 
Grosse Isle, two caught the fever and died, Richard Anderson, of New Ireland, 
and Charles J. Morris, of Portneuf. Three of the clergy took it in attendance on 
the emigrant sheds elsewhere and died, namely, William Chaderton, of St. 
Peter's, Quebec; Mark Willoughby, of Trinity Church, Montreal, and William 
Dawes, of St. John's. These five were among the most devout and efficient of 
the clergy, and their death was a serious loss to the diocese. They left it, how- 
ever, enriched forever with the memory of their noble self-sacrifice in laying down 
their lives for their brethren. Seven more of the clergy took the fever at Grosse 
Isle and recovered. They were Charles Forest, John Torrance, Richard Lons- 
dell, Edward Cullen Parkin, William King, Charles Peter Reid and John Butler. 
The six, equally meritorious, who escaped unhurt, were, besides the Bishop, Dr. 
George Mackie, Official of the Diocese ; Charles Rollit, Edward G. Sutton, Andrew 
T. Whitten, Narcisse Guerout, and Charles Morice. Let their names be held in 
everlasting remembrance!" 

Among the pulpit references to the heroic part played by the Anglican, as 
well as the Roman Catholic, clergy, during the terrible visitation of 1847, the fol- 
lowing was mentioned by the QUEBEC DAILY TELEGRAPH of the i7th August, two 
days after the dedication of the monument at Grosse Isle : 

" Sunday's ceremony at Grosse Isle called forth an interesting reference to the 
scourge of 1847 in the sermon preached on the evening of that day by the Rev. 
E. A. Willoughby King, M.A., Rector, in St. Peter's Anglican church, Quebec. 
St. Peter's, said the preacher, had a direct interest in the ship fever visitation of 
1847, for its then pastor, the Rev. William Chaderton, was himself one of the vic- 
time, having died in this city as a result of the foul disease, contracted in the dis- 
charge of his duties among the sufferers. In honor of his faithfulness to death, 
the congregation erected to his memory the mural monument still in the chancel 
of the church, setting forth the circumstances and the date of his death. A re- 
markable coincidence, noted by the preacher, was that on the i5th of July, 1847, 
the date of the death of Mr. Chaderton, one of his own predecessors at St. 
Peter's, there also died in Montreal another clerical victim of his zeal in minis- 
tering to the fever victims, in the person of the Rev. Mr. Willoughby, attached 
to Trinity church in that city, after whom the preacher in St. Peter's was named, 
and who was an intimate friend of Rev. Rural Dean King's father, the late Rev. 
William King, of St. Sylvester, and several times his fellow-passenger across the 
Atlantic. The late Rev. William King was himself one of the volunteer priests 
who ministered to the fever victims at Grosse Isle in response to the appeal of the 
__ Page Sixty 




REV. HUGH McGUIRK 
Only known survivor of the Catholic hero 
priests at Gross3-lsh in 1847. 
Aged 96 years 





REV. CANON ELLEGOOD 

Rector of Church of St. James the Apostle, Montreal 
Only known survivor of the Protestant clergy (Anglican) 
Montreal, who ministered to the fever victims of 184' 



REV. J. C. McDEVITT 
One of the Heroic Band of R. C. Priests, 
at Grosse-lsle in 1847 



THE GROStSE-lSLE TRAGEDY 

late Bishop Mountain, and the remarks made by his son from the pulpit of St. 
Peter's church last Sunday evening in regard to the self-sacrificing work of both 
Roman Catholic and Anglican clergymen among the fever victims at Grosse Isle, 
were very much upon the same lines as those reported to have been made by the 
Right Hon. Sir Charles Fitzpatrick and the Hon. Charles Murphy, at the Grosse 
Isle ceremony on the same day, and especially as to the equal honor due to all who 
so faithfully and so zealously labored, at such a tremendous self-sacrifice." 

Referring to the dedication of the Grosse Isle monument and to the only one 
now living of the Anglican clergy of Montreal, who attended to the stricken immi- 
grants there in 1847, the Montreal Daily Witness said : 

"The event recalled by this monument marked the saddest epoch in the his- 
tory of the Irish people in Canada. Thousands died of ship fever, not only at 
Grosse Isle, but also in the shelters erected at Point St. Charles. The huge boul- 
der which rested until within a few years at the entrance to Victoria Bridge bore 
record to the six thousand Irish immigrants who were buried there. The monu- 
ment is now situated in St. Patrick's Park, near the Wellington street bridge. 

"Of the eye-witnesses of the appalling scenes that marked the ship fever, only 
one of the devoted clergy who attended to the stricken immigrants in the shelters 
at Point St. Charles is alive, in the person of the Rev. Canon Ellegood, rector of 
the church of St. James the Apostle, who was then in charge of 'Old St. Ann's.' 

"The Venerable Archdeacon Kerr, rector of Point St. Charles, preaching in 
the church of St. James the Apostle, on May 13, 1906, on the occasion of the 
commemoration of the fifty-eighth year of Canon Ellegood's ordination, referred to 
this fact in the following words : 'Although more than fifty years have elapsed 
since those days in 1847 and 1848, we sometimes meet with people who were 
friends and parishioners of the Rev. Dr. Ellegood in 'Old St. Ann's.' They tell 
of his devoted labors in seasons of flood and pestilence, how he stood by his flock 
through two visitations of cholera and through the terrible days of the ship fever ; 
they tell how emigrants fleeing from Ireland were attacked by this fearful malady; 
how in what were then the green fields of Point St. Charles, the city of Montreal 
erected shelters for the stricken strangers ; how between the quarantine station at 
Grosse Isle and the Point St. Charles sheds, seven clergymen of the Church of 
England died of fever, contracted in the discharge of duty; how the Rev. Father 
Dowd, the venerated priest of the Roman Catholic parish of St. Patrick's (not 
long since called to the rest of Paradise) with great devotion and self-forgetful- 
ness, consoled the dying and buried the dead, and how, with equal devotion and 
self-forgetfulness, Mr. Ellegood, then a young priest of the English Church, 
walked in the midst of the plague discharging the duties of his holy office." 

But, besides the clergy, the Canadian medical profession deserve honorable 
mention. They also set striking examples of heroism, zeal and devotion to duty. 
In the reeking hotbed of the contagion at Grosse Isle and in the fever hospitals 
at Quebec, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto and elsewhere, they did all they could for 
the poor sufferers that the limited resources at their command and the less ad- 
vanced science of their day permitted. And if the conditions were so horrible and 
the death roll so great, it was the fault of these and not of the gallant disciples 
of Esculapius, who so unselfishly labored night and day to ameliorate the shocking 
state of affairs, relieve the sick and stop the progress of the devastating plague. 
As already seen, several of them died at Grosse Isle and a large number were 
prostrated and almost brought to death's door by fatigue and the pestilence. 
Among these were the late Drs. Painchaud and Jackson and eight nuns of the 
Hotel Dieu, Quebec. 

Page Sixty-One 



THE 



GROSSE- ISLE 



T R A G E D Y 



This chapter cannot be better concluded than by quoting- the following from 
O'Leary's account in the DAILY TELEGRAPH'S supplement of 1897 : 

"In the darkest hour of their affliction, the emigrants at Grosse Isle found 
a true friend in the Canadian clergy, among whom the following yielded their 
lives in their behalf : Reverend Messrs. Hubert Robson, Ed. Montminy, Hugh 
Paisley, F. S. Bardy, Michael Power and Pierre Roy. 

"Among the others who asked the Archbishop's permission to share the work 
of their Irish confreres were the present Cardinal Taschereau, Reverend Messrs. 
L. S. Malo, P. Huot, J. B. A. Ferland, L. A. Proulx, P. Beaumont, C. Tardif, 
J. B. Perras, T. Caron, M. Duguay, P. H. Jean, P. Sax, L. Trahan and J. 
Bailey. 

"The Irish clergymen were: the Reverend Bernard McGauran, who was 
the first clergyman stricken with fever. On recovery, he returned to Grosse Isle, 
and was the last to leave, on 28th October, on the "Alliance," with a number of 
emigrants, five of whom died between Quarantine and Quebec. 

"The others were Rev. Messrs. B. O'Reilly, W. W. Moylan, J. McDonnell, 
H. McGuirk and J. C. McDevitt. 

"On Friday, 23rd of July, 1847, Father John Richards died at Montreal of 
ship fever, which he contracted while ministering to the sick in the sheds at Point 
St. Charles. On the Sunday previous he preached at St. Patrick's church, Mon- 
treal, upon the sufferings and faith of the Irish people, and I cannot better con- 
clude than by giving an extract of what he said on that occasion : 

" 'Oh, my beloved brethren, grieve not, I beseech you, for the sufferings 
and death of so many of your race, perchance, your kindred, who have fallen, 
and are still to fall victims to this fearful pestilence. Their patience, their faith, 
their resignation to the will of God under such unprecedented misery, is some- 
thing so extraordinary that, to realize it, it requires to be seen. Oh, my brethren, 
grieve not for them ; they did but pass from earth to the glory of Heaven. True, 
they were cast in heaps into the earth, their place of sepulchre marked by no 
name or epitaph; but I tell you, my dearly beloved brethren, rest assured that 
from their ashes the faith will spring up along the St. Lawrence, for they died 
martyrs, as they lived confessors, to the faith." 



Page Sixty-Two 





LATE BISHOP HORAN 

Of Kingston, Ont., who, as Father Ed 
ward John Horan, of Quebec, was one of 
the devoted band of young Irish and 
French- Canadian priests, who volunteered 
to go to the spiritual relief of the sick and 
dying at Grosse Isle in 1847, and who him- 
self contracted the disease and nearly died 
from it. 



LATE REV. PATRICK McMAHON 

Founder and pastor for many years of 
St. Patrick's Church, Quebec. A famous 
Irish pries; who took a leading part in 
the sad events of 1847, and in organiz- 
ing relief fo rthe sufferers and orphans 
of tha-t atwfiul period. 





LATE REV. JAMES NELLIGAN 

Irish missionary to Grosse Isle in 1847, 
and afterwards for some years pastor of St 
Patrick's Church, Quebec, as the first suc- 
cessor of its founder, the celebrated 
Father McMahon. 



LATE REV. PIERRE ROY 

One of the French-Canadian Oatholic 
priests, who died from the fever caught 
in the exercise of his sacred ministry 
at Grasse Me in 1847. 



of 1847 




"Lord, God of our progenitors, 

The mighty and the just, 
Of sages, chiefs and senators, 

Now mingled with the dust; 
Who through the night of ages 

For thee have wept in chains, 
Upon whose history's pages 

Thy foes have scattered stains. 

"Oh! by the love you bore them, 

Look on their suffering sons; 
Cast thy soft shadows o'er them, 

Guard well their little ones! 
Once Thou did'st plant thy fountains 

Of mercy and of grace, 
'Mid Erin's holy mountains, 

And love her royal race." 

McGEE. 

HERE is no more harrowing or pathetic feature of the dreadful epis- 
ode of 1847 than the multitude of young children of both sexes, 
who succumbed or whose parents, relatives or guardians fell vic- 
tims to the pestilence at Grosse Isle and elsewhere, leaving them 
unprotected and helpless in this New World. They ranged from 
the babe in arms to boys and girls of all the intervening ages up 
to fifteen or sixteen years, and nothing more pitiable can be imag- 
ined than the scenes presented by the emaciated little bodies awaiting burial or by 
the orphaned survivors just severed by the cruel hand of death from their natural 
protectors and their loved ones. 

What brush can paint such melancholy scenes ; what pen can describe the 
mortal anguish of the last partings between parents and their offspring under 
such circumstances? Look at the poor mother or father mourning and not to be 
comforted over the loss of their little ones or with their last moments embittered 
by the reflection that the poor helpless young creatures whom they had brought 
into the world and were leaving behind, were about to be cast as penniless waifs 
upon it in a new country and amid a strange people! Look at the children, too 
young yet to realize all the gravity of their bereavement, crying, as if their little 
hearts would break, over the inanimate remains of their dearest and truest friends 
on earth. Such sights were calculated to touch even the most callous natures! 
But what of the misrule, the oppression and the deceit which were the first cause 
of such sights? 

'Though the mills of God grind slowly, 

Yet they grind exceeding small, 
Though with patience standc. He waiting 

With exactness grinds He all." 

No very definite or accurate statistics are available to show the number of the 
orphaned survivors of 1847. Even an approximate estimate can hardly be made 
of it, for the helpless children were soon dispersed far and wide, but there is 

Page Sixty -Three 



THE GROSSE-1SLE TRAGEDY 

every reason to believe that it ran up into the thousands. Many of the little ones 
were taken away from Grosse Isle with them by surviving old country neighbors 
and friends of the dead parents. Others were taken and cared for by Irish Cath- 
olic residents of Quebec, Montreal, etc., or temporarily sent to already existing 
or rapidly improvised charitable refuges and asylums in those cities. One of 
these refuges is still to be seen at Quebec in the old stone building in rear of that 
noble Irish charity, the St. Bridget's Asylum, where the orphans were placed in the 
charge of that worthy priest and warm friend of the Irish people, the late Father 
Sax, and not a few were adopted by other good French-Canadian priests, 
including Vicar-General Cazeau and the late Father Bolduc, of Quebec, who 
reared, educated and started them in life. One devoted priest, Father 
Harper, rector of St. Gregoire, paid no less than three visits to Grosse 
Isle, taking away thirty orphans each time and distributing them among 
his parishioners. Others again were forwarded to or assisted to reach 
relatives or friends in the United States. But the great majority of the poor Irish 
Catholic waifs were adopted by the eood habitants or farmers in the French Cana- 
dian rural districts, who reared them up to manhood or womanhood and treated 
them as lovingly and well as their own offspring, giving them in many instances 
the highest college and university education, making them priests, lawyers, doc- 
tors, nuns, etc., or mechanics, and in not a few cases, at death, leaving them their 
farms or other valuable property as proofs of their affection. And many of these 
fortunate children or their descendants have since risen to wealth and distinction 
as citizens of Canada or the United States. To-day they are scattered far and 
wide. Some of them have preserved and still proudly retain their original family 
names or Celtic patronymics, but most have lost these or are only known by those 
of their foster parents, with whose nationality they became identified in every 
way in feeling, language, etc. In fact, they are as much French Canadian to- 
day as if to the manner born. Hundreds of instances of this absorption and as- 
similation of the orphans of '47 by the French Canadian element might be cited. 
But one of the most striking is recalled by the expected visit to Grosse Isle on the 
i5th August of Rev. Father Robichaud, pastor of Madawaska, N.B., who, though 
bearing to-day a French Acadian name, is none the less of Irish origin, his 
parents, with whom he came out a child to this country from Ireland in 1847, hav- 
ing died victims of the ship fever at Grosse Isle, being counted among the un- 
known dead, and leaving to their poor orphan not even the heritage of the family 
name. His case furnishes another of the many examples of the kindly way in 
which the helpless Irish orphans of 1847 were adopted and provided for by the 
good French-Canadian families by whose names so many of them are still known. 

But nothing in the history of the French Canadian people does more honor to 
them than the kindness shown by them to the poor Irish Catholic orphans of 1847 
and no member of the Irish race should ever forget this important fact. 

As for the Protestant orphans, they were taken in hand and well looked after 
by their own devoted clergy and people and many of them and their descendants 
are to-day amongst the most solid and respected citizens of the land. 



Page Sixty-Four 





LATE MGR. BOLDUC 

Of Quebec, one of the warm-hearted 
French-Canadian priests who took an active 
part in providing for the relief of the Irish 
orphans in 1847. 



LATE REV. EDWARD BONNEAU 

Missionary at Grosse Isle from 1854 to 
1857, assistant priest at St. Patrick's 
Church, Quebec, for some time, and for 
many years chaplain of the Sisters of Char- 
ity, Quebec. Another of the devoted 
friends of the Irish Catholics among the 
French-Canadian clergy. 





LATE WGR. CAZEAU 

Vicar-General of the Archdiocese of Que- 
bec, ever a warm friend of the Irish Cath- 
olics, and especially during their terrible 
hour of trial in 1847, and a true father to 
many of the poor Irish orphans left at 
Grosse Isle during that Year. 



LATE REV. J. E. MAGUIRE 

Missionary at Grosse Isle in 1874. Bro- 
ther of Provincial Chaplain, A.O.H., Kev. 
A. E. Maguire, of Sillery, and nephew of 
late Bishop Horan. 



on <&rotfe Me 




"I would a tale unfold, whose lightest word 
Would harrow up thy soul." 

HAMLET. 

N October, 1852, the Reverend Bernard O'Reilly lectured in New 
York on "The Irish Emigration of 1847," and said, among other 
things : 

"About five years ago, while surrounded on the shores of the 
St. Lawrence, with the victims of hunger and ship fever, I was 
given a copy of a lecture delivered in New York, on the "Ante- 
cedent Causes of the Irish Famine." I had then before me a 
truthful commentary to those pages. My only regret in perusing them was 
that their illustrious author had not been an eye-witness of the scenes, in which 1 
was nightly and daily privileged to take an active part. 

"The dungeons of Naples, and the cruelties of Sicily would have sunk into 
the shade, before the horrid realities of Grosse Isle. 

"My purpose before you is to disburden my soul of the conviction which I 
felt, even in the lazar-houses and fetid shipholds of Canada, that Providence 
would bring some mighty good out of all that suffering. Yes, I read that assur- 
ance in the sublime virtues which I witnessed. That alone enabled me not to 
curse the oppressor. It gave me hope for Ireland, but, above all, it made me re- 
joice for America. Since that time my feelings have assumed the form of this 
consoling truth, that the heart of a nation, tried by suffering unparalleled in.dur-. 
ation and intensity, is destined for some great end. 

"In stating a few of the facts, of which I had personal knowledge, I shall 
not promise to be unimpassioned, for that would argue that I was without feeling 
on a subject which so powerfully moves the sympathies of a manly and Christian 
heart. 

"In the accounts of the sad condition of Ireland, given by Lord Clare, Lord 
de Grey, and others, during the reign of Elizabeth, we can almost conceive that 
they were expressly written for the year 1847, instead of the year of grace 1580. 
So that after nigh three centuries of gigantic struggles and sufferings, a nation of 
eight millions and a half of people stands before the civilized world as a mendicant 
for universal charity, her people starving, while her granaries and warehouses 
are filled with her own grain and provisions, which she is not allowed to touch, 
and while the treasuries of the Imperial Government are piled up with heaps oC 
gold, of which Ireland may touch only a moiety. Now, let us direct our attention 
to the endurance of her children abroad. 

"Early in the spring of 1847 the tide of emigration set in through the valley 
of the St. Lawrence. The local authorities in every part of Ireland had been 
anxiously watching for the time when the Canadian navigation usually opens, in 
order to rid their wharves, poor houses, crowded hospitals, and the hulks at 
anchor, in every seaport, of the living mass of misery, for which they could or 
would not find shelter and relief. 

"The landlords, too, throughout the country had begun their work of whole- 
sale demolition and extermination. Some gave to their famishing tenants a mere 
trifle on condition that they should take the road to the nearest place of embarkation. 
Others put into their hands pretended cheques on Canadian mercantile houses to 
induce them to give up their little farms, while all employed every means of per- 

Page Sixty-Five 



THE GROSSE-ISLE TRAGEDY 

suasion and coercion to urge their dependents to the seaside, and indeed the ten- 
ants were not loathe to hurry away to the great Republic of the West, where 
loving friends awaited them, and whence, during that dreadful period, they had 
been sent such generous, although insufficient assistance. They crowded, there- 
fore, imprudently and recklessly into every vessel that was advertised to sail for 
America, nor did the ship owners or emigrant agents scruple to receive more pas- 
sengers than the law permitted. The law was most notoriously and shamefully 
violated. 

"In the colonies meanwhile the authorities and the people were quite unpre- 
pared for the frightful amount of sickness and destitution which the eastern winds 
hurried to their doors and there was consequently not even accommodation for 
one-fifth of the sick and dying that were landed during the months of April and 
May. 

4 'The military authorities, at the first fearful tidings, with characteristic 
promptness, sent every tent which their stores contained. But the workmen sent 
to erect sheds soon caught the contagion, so that no bribe could induce mechanics 
to finish the works. 

"The fierce Canadian summer had now come, and thousands of the sick kept 
pouring in at Grosse Isle. Not one drop of fresh water was to be had on the island. 
There was no lime juice, no clean straw, even, to protect the patients from the wet 
ground in the tents, or the rough boards in the hospital, while in the beginning 
of July, with the thermometer at 98 in the shade, I have seen hundreds landed 
from the ships and thrown rudely by the unfeeling crews on the burning rocks, 
and there I have known them to remain whole nights and days without shelter or 
care of any kind. 

"I weep to say that the common jail was opened and its loathsome inmates 
were sent to watch the deathbed of our pure, helpless emigrant youth. Mean- 
while those with strength enough proceeded to Quebec and th ; cities in the Upper 
Province, spreading infection on their way. The cholera, in its most malignant 
form, did not visit with death and desolation half the families which ship fever 
caused to mourn. 

"On the 8th May, 1847, the "Urania" from Cork, with several hundred im- 
migrants on board, a large proportion of them sick and dying of the ship fever, 
was put into quarantine at Grosse Isle. This was the first of the plague-smitten 
ships from Ireland which that year sailed up the St. Lawrence. But before the 
first week of June as many as eighty-four ships of various tonnage were driven 
in by an easterly wind, and of that enormous number of vessels there was not one 
free from the taint ot malignant typhus, the offspring of famine and of the foul 
ship-hold. This fleet of vessels literally reeked with pestilence. All sailing ves- 
sels, the merciful speed of the well appointed steamer being unknown to the 
emigrant of those days, a tolerably quick passage occupied from six to eight 
weeks, while passages of ten or twelve weeks and even a longer time, were not 
considered at all extraordinary at a period when craft of every kind, the most 
unsuited as well as the least seaworthy, were pressed into the service of human 
deportation. 

"Who can imagine the horrors of even the shortest passage in an emigrant 
ship crowded beyond its utmost capability of stowage with unhappy beings of alf 
ages, with fever raging in their midst? Under the most favourable circumstan- 
ces it is impossible to maintain perfect purity of atmosphere between decks, even 
when ports are open, and every device is adopted to secure the greatest amount 
of ventilation. But a crowded emigrant sailing ship of twenty years since, with 

Page Sixty-Six 



THE GROSS. E-ISLE TRAGEDY 

fever on board! the crew sullen or brutal from very desperation, or paralyzed 
with terror of the plague, the miserable passengers unable to help themselves, 
or to afford the least relief to each other ; one-fourth, or one-third, or one-half of 
the entire number in different stages of the disease, many dying, some dead ; the 
fatal poison intensified by the indescribable foulness of the air breathed and re- 
breathed by the gasping sufferers the wails of children, the ravings of the delir- 
ious, the cries and groans of those in mortal agony. Of the eighty-four emigrant 
ships that anchored at Grosse Isle in the summer of 1847, there was not a single 
one to which this description might not rightly apply. 

"The authorities were taken by surprise, owing to the sudden arrival of this 
plague-smitten fleet, and, save the sheds that remained since 1832, there was no 
accommodation of any kind on the island. These sheds were rapidly filled with 
the miserable people, the sick and the dying. Hundreds were literally flung on 
the beach, left amid the mud and the stones, to crawl on the dry land how they 
could. "I havi seen," says the priest who was then chaplain of the quarantine, 
and who had been but one year on the mission, "I have one day seen thirty-seven 
people lying on the beach, crawling in the mud, and dying like fish out of water. 
"Many of these, and many more besides, gasped out their last breath on that 
fatal shore, not able to drag themselves from the slime in which they lay. Death 
was doing its work everywhere in the sheds, around the sheds, where the vic- 
tims lay in hundreds under the canopy of heaven, and in the poisonous holds of 
the plague-ships, all of which were declared to be, and treated as, hospitals. 

"From ship to ship the young Irish priest carried the consolations of religion 
to the dying. Amidst shrieks, and groans, and wild ravings, and heart-rending 
lamentations, our prostrate sufferers in every stage of the sickness, from 
loathsome berth to loathsome berth, he pursued his holy task. So noxious was 
the pent-up atmosphere of these floating pest houses, that he had frequently to 
rush on deck to breathe the pure air, or to relieve his overtaxed stomach; then 
he would again plunge into the foul den and resume his interrupted labours. 

"There being at first no organization, no staff, no available resources, it may 
be imagined why the mortality rose to a prodigious rate, and how at one time as 
many as 150 bodies, most of them in a half naked state, would be piled up in 
the dead-house awaiting such sepulture as a huge pit could afford. Poor creatures 
would crawl out of the sheds, and, being too exhausted to return, would be found 
lying in the open air, not a few of them rigid in death. When the authorities 
were enabled to erect sheds sufficient for the reception of the sick, and provide a 
staff of physicians and nurses, and the Archbishop of Quebec had appointed a 
number of priests, who took the hospital duty in turn, there was, of course, more 
order and regularity, but the mortality was for a time scarcely diminished. The 
deaths were as many as 100, and 150, and even 200 a day, and thus for a consid- 
erable period during the summer. The masters of the quarantine-bound ships 
were naturally desirous of getting rid as speedily as possible of their dangerous 
and unprofitable freight ; and the manner in which the helpless people were landed, 
or thrown, on the island, aggravated their sufferings, and in a vast number of in- 
stances precipitated their fate. Then the hunger and thirst from which they suf- 
fered in the badly-found ships, between whose crowded and stifling decks they had 
been so long pent up, had so far destroyed their vital energy, that they had but 
little chance of life when once struck down. 

"About the middle of June the younp- chaplain was attacked by the pestilence. 
For ten days he had not taken off his clothes, and his boots, which he constantly 
wore for all that time, had to be cut from his feet. A couple of months elapsed 



Page Sixty-Seven 



THE GROSSE-ISLE TRAGEDY 

before he resumed his duties ; but when he returned to his post of danger the mor- 
tality was still of fearful magnitude. Several priests, a few Irish, the majority 
French-Canadians, caught the infection, and of the twenty-five who were attacked, 
seven paid with their lives the penalty of their devotion. Not a few of these men 
were professors in colleges, but at the appeal of the Archbishop they left their 
classes and their studies for the horrors and perils of the fever sheds. 

"It was not until the ist of November that the quarantine at Grosse Isle was 
closed. Upon that barren isle as many as 10,000 of the Irish race were consigned 
to the grave pit. By some the estimate is made much higher, and 12,000 is con- 
sidered nearer the actual number. A register was kept and is still in existence, 
but it does not commence earlier than June 16, when the mortality was nearly at 
its height. According to this death-roll, there were buried, between the i6th and 
30th of June, 487 Irish immigrants " whose names could no! be ascertained." In 
July, 941 were thrown into nameless graves; and in August, 918 were entered in 
the register under the comprehensive description "unknown." There were in- 
terred, from the i6th of June to the closing of the quarantine for that year, 2,905 
of a Christian people whose names could not be discovered amidst the confusion 
and carnage of that fatal summer. In the following year, 2,000 additional victims 
were entered in the same register without name or trace of any kind, to tell who 
they were, or whence they came. Thus 5,000 out of the total number of victims 
were simply described as unknown.' 

"This deplorable havoc of human life left hundreds of orphans dependent on 
the compassion of the public, and nobly was the unconscious appeal of this multi- 
tude of destitute little ones responded to by the French Canadians. Half naked, 
squalid, covered with vermin generated by hunger, fever, and the foulness of the 
ship's hold, perhaps with the germs of the plague lurking in their vitiated blood, 
these helpless innocents of every age from the infant taken from the bosom of 
its dead mother to the child that could barely tell the name of its parents, were 
gathered under the fostering protection of the Church. They were washed, and 
clad, and fed ; and every effort was made by the clergy and nuns who took them 
into their charge to discover who they were, what their names, and which of them 
were related, the one to the other, so that, if possible, children of the same family 
might not be separated forever. A difficult thing it was to learn from mere in- 
fants whether, among more than 600 orphans, they had brothers and sisters. But 
by patiently observing the elittle creatures when they found strength and courage 
to play, their watchful protectors were enabled to find out relationships which, 
without such care, would have been otherwise unknown. If one infant ran to 
meet another, or caught its hand, or smiled at it, or kissed it, or showed pleasure 
in its society, here was a clue to be followed ; and in many instances children of 
the same parents were thus preserved to each other. Many more, of course, were 
separated forever as the children were too young to tell their own names, or do 
anything save cry in piteous accents for "mammy, mammy," until soothed to 
slumber in the arms of a compassionate Sister. 

"The greater portion of the orphans of the Grosse Isle tragedy were adopted 
by the French Canadians, who were appealed to by their cures at the earnest 
quest of Father Cazeau, then Secretary to the Archbishop, and now one of the 
Vicars-General of the Archdiocese of Quebec. M. Cazeau is one of the ablest of 
the ecclesiastics of the Canadian Church, and is no less remarkable for worth and 
ability than for the generous interest he has ever exhibited for the Irish people. 
Father Cazeau had employed his powerful influnce with the country clergy to 
provide for the greater number of the children, but some 200 still remained in a 
Page Sixty-Eight 




THE O'CONNELL MONUMENT. DUBLIN 



THE GROSSE-ISLE TRAGEDY 

building- specially set apart for them, and this is how these 200 Irish orphans were 
likewise provided for : 

Monsug-neur Baillargeon, Bishop of Quebec, was then cure of the city. He 
had received three or four of the orphans into his own house, and among them a 
beautiful boy of two years, or perhaps somewhat younger. The others had been 
taken from him and adopted by the kindly habitants, and became part of their fam- 
ilies, but the little fellow, who was the cure's special pet, remained with him for 
nearly two years. From creeping up and downstairs, and toddling about in every 
direction, he soon began to grow strong, and bold, and noisy, as a fine healthy 
child would be, but though his fond protector rejoiced in the health and beauty 
of the boy, he found him rather unsuited to the quiet gravity of a priest's house, 
and a decided obstacle to study and meditation. In the midst of his perplexity, of 
which the child was the unconscious cause to the cure of Quebec, a clergyman 
from the country arrived in town. This priest visited M. Baillargeon, who told 
him that he had 200 poor orphan children, the children "of the faithful Catholic 
Irish" still unprovided with a home, and he was most anxious that his visitor 
should call on his parishioners to take them. "Come," said he, "I will show you 
a sample of them, and you can tell your people what they are like." Saying this 
M. Baillargeon led his visitor upstairs, and into the room where, in a little cot, 
the orphan child was lying in rosy sleep. As the light fell upon the features of 
the beautiful boy, who was reposing in all the unrivalled grace of infancy, the 
country cure was greatly touched; he had never, he said, seen a 'lovelier little 
angel' in his life. "Well," said M. Ballargeon, "I have 200 more as handsome 
Take him with you, show him to your people, and tell them to come for the 
others." That very night the boat in which he was to reach his parish was to 
start, and the cure wrapped the infant careful'y in the blanket in which he lay and, 
without disturbing his slumber, bore him off to the boat, a valued prize. 

"The next Sunday a strange sight was witnessed in the parish church of 
which the cure was the pastor. The priest was seen issuing from the sacristy, 
holding in his arms a boy of singular beauty, whose little hands were tightlv 
clasped, half in terror, half in excitement, round the neck of his bearer. Every 
eye was turned towards this strange spectacle, and the most intense curiosity was 
felt by the congregation, in a greater degree by the women, especially those who 
were mothers, to learn what it meant. It was soon explained by their pastor, who 
said : 

"Look at this little boy! Poor infant!( Here the cure embraced him). Look 
at his noble forehead, his bright eyes, his curling hair, his mouth like a cherub! 
Oh, what a beautiful boy! (Another embrace, the half-terrified child clinging 
closer to the priest's breast, his tears dropping fast upon the surplice). Look, 
my dear friends, at this beautiful child, who has been sent by God to our dare. 
Here are 200 as beautiful children as this poor forlorn infant. They were starved 
out of their own country by bad laws, and their fathers, and their poor mothers 
now lie in the great grave at Grosse Isle. Poor mothers! They could not re- 
main with their little ones. You will be mothers to them. The father died, and 
the mother died, but before she died, the pious mother left them to the good God, 
and the good God now gives them to you. Mothers, you will not refuse the gift 
of the good God." (The kindly people responded to this appeal with tears and 
gestures of passionate assent). Go quickly to Quebec; there you will find these 
orphan children these gifts offered to you by the good God go quickly go to- 
morrow lose not a moment take them and carry them to your homes, and they 
will bring a blessing on you and your families. I say, go to-morrow without fail, 

Page Sixty-Nine 



THE GROSS E-ISLE TRAGEDY 

or others may be before you. Yes, dear friends, they will be a blessing to you 
as they grow up, a strong healthy race fine women, and fine men, like this beau- 
tiful boy. Poor child, you will be sure to find a second mother in this congrega- 
tion! (Another embrace, the little fellow's tears flowing more abundantly; every 
eye in the church glistening with responsive sympathy). 

"This was the cure's sermon, and it may be doubted if Bossuet or Fenelon 
ever produced a like effect. Next day there was to be seen a long procession of 
waggons moving towards Quebec, and on the evening of that day there was not 
one of the 200 Irish orphans that had not been brought to a Canadian home, there 
to be nurtured with tenderness and love, as the gift of the Bon Dieu. Possibly, 
in some instances that tenderness and love were not requited in after life, but in 
most instances the Irish orphan brought a blessing to the hearth of its adopted 
parents. The boy whose beauty and whose tears so powerfully assisted the sim- 
ple oratory of the good cure, is now one of the ablest lawyers in Quebec, but a 
French Canadian in every respect save in birth and blood. 



Absorbed thus into the families of the French-speaking population, even the 
older Irish orphans soon lost almost every memory of their former home and of 
their parents, and grew up French-Canadians in every respect save in the more 
vigorous constitution, for .which they were indebted to nature. It is not, there- 
fore, a rare thing to behold a tall, strapping, fair-skinned young fellow, with an 
unmistakeable Irish face, who speaks and thinks as a French Canadian. Thus 
genuine Irish names as Cassidy, or Lonergan, or Sullivan, or Quinn, or Murphy 
are to be heard of at this day in many of the homes of the kindly habitants of 
Lower Canada. 

"Though it was the humane policy of those who took care of the orphans of 
Grosse Isle to keep the same family in the same neighborhod, so as not to separ- 
ate brother from sister, it has happened that a brother has been reared by a 
French family, and a sister by an Irish or English-speaking family, and when the 
orphans have been brought together by their adopted parents, they could only 
express their emotions by embraces and tears the language of the heart." 




Page Seventy 



uebec anb tfje Srisrt) jf amtne 

(By JAMES M. O'LEARY.) 




"This, I hold, to be the chief office of history, 
to rescue virtuous actions from oblivion." 

THE FAMINE 

IN the accounts of the sad condition of Ireland, given by Lord Clare, 
Lord de Grey, and others during the reign of Elizabeth, we can 
almost conceive that they were expressly written for the year 
1847, instead of the year of grace 1580. So that after nigh three 
centuries of gigantic struggles and sufferings, a nation of eight 
millions and a half of people stood before the civilized world as a 
mendicant for universal charity, her people starving, while her granaries and 
warehouses were filled with her own grain and provisions, which she was not 
allowed to touch. The year 1847 had just opened when the thrilling news rang 
throughout all lands that starvation held sovereign sway in Ireland, its footprints 
marked by disease and death. Ireland had always been known as a brave nation, 
Even her most bitter enemy could not question her bravery, but now her sons 
were terror-stricken, and shuddered at the awful scenes they witnessed. The 
humble homes of the poorer classes were little better than charnel-houses, where 
the dead, uncared for, lay festering by the side of the dying. Day by day the 
heartrending details of wretchedness and suffering were brought before the public 
by the press, till even the very heathen stood aghast at the news. 

This state of : ffairs demanded at once the exercise of the warmest sympathy 
of every people, but the inhabitants of Quebec required no stirring appeal to their 
feelings, for Quebec had suffered. Well she knew that when her cry for help rang 
out in the wild notes of despair, shrill and clear, from amid the still smoking 
ruins of many a once happy home, Ireland, dear old Ireland, came to her relief. 

Quebec had suffered, and in what manner? Listen! The 28th May, 1845, 
dawned in all the brightness and warmth of summer over the Old Rock City, but 
ere the French Cathedral bells proclaimed the noon-day Angelus, it was a scene 
of terror and desolation. Thousands who rose that morning surrounded by all 
that labor and patient industry gave them, were beggars long before sunset. 
Many exchanged their morning greetings never again to meet on this side of the 
grave. From n a.m. to midnight, fire raged in all its fury through every high- 
way and byway in St. Roch's suburbs, ending its wild career in St. Charles street, 
after destroying two thousand houses, and leaving twelve thousand people home- 
less. As night came, sad sights were witnessed. Men, women and children sat 
by the roadside in silent grief, for their savings, their gatherings of years, were 
gone forever. Many knelt in prayer asking God's protection and aid, and, as 
members of the clergy passed the way, crowds of desolate beings fell at their feet, 
craving their blessing. 

But Quebec's sufferings had not ended. On the night of the a8th June, 1845, 
fire broke out in D'Aiguillon street, and when morning dawned, the populous sub- 
urbs of St. John and St. Lewis were in ruins. Thousands here were also rendered 
homeless. Refugees were everywhere, from St. Paul street as far as Sillery, in 
Pointe Levi, St. Foy, Beauport and Lorette, while within the walls of the city 
every door was left open to receive the distressed. 

But what was Quebec's destitution compared to Ireland's? Famine did not 

Page Seventy-One 



I 
I 



THE GROSSE-ISLE TRAGEDY 






fasten its iron grip upon our people, disease was absent, and death claimed but 
few victims. 

QUEBEC TAKES ACTION. 



The first move made in Quebec in aid of the suffering Irish was at a meeting 
of the St. Patrick's congregation held on Sunday, 3ist January, 1847, when a 
committee was named to co-operate with the citizens of Quebec in the event of 
their having a meeting for the same object. 

On Wednesday, 3rd February, the committee met, and appointed Mr. John 
Sharpies, Chairman, Mr. William Cronin as Secretary, and the following persons 
as collectors, namely : 

St. Peter Street. Messrs. Charles Sharpies, John Sharpies and Michael Con- 
nolly. 

St. Peter's Ward. Messrs. Hugh Murray, Denis Maguire, John Murphy, 
William Cronin, Matthew Enright and Peter Clark. 

Champlain Ward. Messrs. Patrick McMahon, John Doran, Patrick Staf- 
ford, Thomas Gahan, Miles Kelly, Michael Power, Edward Duggan and John 
Colford. 

Toll-Gate to Pointe-a-Puiseaux. Messrs. William Quinn, Roderick McGillis, 
William Richardson and Michael Carroll. 

Coves above Pointe-a-Puiseaux. Messrs. Joseph Cantillon, Peter Daly, 
Michael Lowry and Michael P. Kenny. 

New Liverpool and Pointe Levi. Messrs. James Walsh and John McNaugh- 
ton. 

Palace Ward. Messrs. Judge Power, J. P. O'Meara, Edward J. Charlton, 
James Green, Thomas D. Tims and Lawrence Stafford. 

St. Lewis Ward. Messrs. J. P. Bradley, Henry O'Connor, Charles Alleyn, 
John Maguire, Edward G. Cannon and Charles McDonald. 

St. John's Ward. Messrs. William McKay, Henry Martin, John Carr, John 
Jordan, Patrick McGarvey and George Allen. 

St. Rock's Ward. Messrs. Michael Cullen, Francis O'Rourke, Matthew 
Plunkett, James Kelly, Hugh O'Donnell and David Shortel. 

Beauport and Dorchester Bridge. Messrs. John Lane and James Fox. 

Little River Road. Messrs. James O'Brien and Michael Condon. 

Charlesbourg. Mr. William Horan. 

Messrs. C. Sharpies, J. Sharpies and M. Connolly were requested by the 
meeting to wait on Messrs. Henry Pemberton, G. H. Parke, Charles Gethings, 
Paul Lepper, J. H. Bradshaw and George Colley to ask leave to have their names 
added to the committee. The request was granted, and the committee consisted 
of the following persons : 

Reverend P. McMahon, Messrs. G. H. Parke, H. Pemberton, J. H. Brad- 
shaw, P. Lepper, G. Colley, C. Gethings, Judge Power, Edward Ryan, C. Shar- 
pies, J. Sharpies, M. Connolly, J. P. O'Meara, Thaddeus Kelly, J. P. Bradley, H. 
Murray, W. Quinn, E. J. Charlton, T. D. Tims, L. Stafford, William Downes, H. 
O'Connor, W. Cronin, H. O'Rourke, J. Cantillon, P. Stafford, Maurice O'Leary, 
C. Alleyn, J. Maguire, E. G. Cannon, M. Plunkett, J. Green, W. Richardson, 
John Daly, James Walsh, John McMahon, C. McDonald, D. Maguire, J. Lane, 
Thomas Murphy, P. McGarvey, M. Enright and Denis Cantillon. 

It was unanimously agreed that the amounts collected were to be sent to 
the Catholic and Protestant Archbishops of Dublin. 

In the meantime the Independent Order of Odd Fellows sent home $1,200 as 

Page Seventy-Two 




LAKES OF KILLARNEY, IRELAND 



THE G R O S S E - I S L E TRAGEDY 

their donation, on the understanding that a portion of this sum was to be transmit- 
ted to :he Scotch poor, as famine also prevailed in the Highlands and Islands of 
Scotland. 

QUEBEC DOES HER DUTY 

The question of aiding the famishing Irish became general. The citizens, 
who met on the morning of the 29th May, 1845, and made up among themselves 
the handsome sum of $28,000 before the evening of that same day, came forward, 
ready and willing, to contribute their share to the Irish famine fund. 

On the i2th February, 1847, a public meeting was held in the City Hall, Que- 
bec, at which the Hon. A. W. Cochrane presided, with Doctor William Kimlin as 
secretary. Among those present were the Catholic Bishop of Quebec, the Protes- 
tant Bishop of Montreal, the Reverend Messrs. P. McMahon, of St. Patrick's; 
Doctor John Cook, of St. Andrew's; and G. Clugston, of the English Cathedral; 
Sir Henry J. Caldwell, Hons. R. E. Caron and F. W. Primrose, Captain R. I. 
Alleyn, R.N. ; Messrs. A. C. Buchanan, John Sharpies and Paul Lepper. It was 
agreed that a collection be taken up, the same to be divided between the sufferers 
in Ireland and those in Scotland in the proportion of three-fourths to the former 
and one-fourth to the latter, that Ireland's share was to be sent to the Protestant 
and Catholic Archbishops of Dublin, and Scotland's to the Lord Provost of Edin- 
burgh. 

Mr. Charles Gethings was appointed Treasurer and the following persons col- 
lectors : 

St. Peter's Ward. Messrs. H. Pemberton, Jas. Gibb, J. B. Forsyth, R. Cas- 
sels, C. Langevin, Robt. Shaw, W. D. Dupont, Archibald Campbell, G. H. Parke, 
J. H. Bradshaw, C. Sharpies, M. Connolly, Hugh Murray, D. Maguire, J. Mur- 
phy, W. Cronin, M. Enright and Peter Clark. 

St. Lewis Ward. Hons. Louis Panet and L. Massue, Messrs. Henry Le- 
mesurier, Hammond Gowen, A. C. Buchanan, G. B. Faribault, J. P. Bradley, H. 
O'Connor, Chas. Alleyn, J. Maguire, E. G. Cannon, Charles McDonald. 

Palace Ward. Messrs. Paul Lepper, H. S. Scott, L. Tetu, Geo. Hall, J. 
McLeod, L. Bilodeau, Jos. Legare, Judge Power, J. P. O'Meara, E. J. Charlton, 
James Green, T. D. Tims and Lawrence Stafford. 

Champlain Ward. Messrs. G. Black, jr., P. McQuilkin, Thos. Tweedell, 
J. Blais, A. Amiot, J. B. Frechette, Patrick McMahon, John Doran, Patrick Staf- 
ford, Thomas Gahan, Miles Kelly, Michael Power, Edward Duggan and John 
Colford. 

Toil-Gate to Pointe-a-Puiseaux. Messrs. Wm. White, Robt. Galna, Louis 
Dorion, Wm. Quinn, R. McGillis, Wm. Richardson, Michael Carroll, John Dodd, 
Jas. Dodd, John Lill and Robt. McCord. 

Coves above Pointe-a-Puiseaux. Messrs. Jos. Cantillon, Peter Daly, Michael 
Lowry and Michael P. Kenny. 

St. Rock's Ward. Messrs. Thomas Oliver, J. Tourangeau, Dr. E. Rous- 
seau, J. B. Rheaume, J. J. Nesbitt, J. Jeffery, jr., W. Brown, W. Venner, Cle- 
ment Cazeau, Laurent Lemieux, M. Cullen, F. O'Rourke, M. Plunkett, Jas. 
Kelly, H. O'Donnell and David Shortel. 

St. John and St. Louis Suburbs. Messrs. Wm. Philips, John Codville, Abra- 
ham Joseph, C. W. Wurtele, J. Robitaille, Alexis Dorval, Pierre Gauvreau, F. 
X. Dion, Jean Paquet, J. B. Gingras, Louis Chevret, Z. Chartre, John Howison, 
Remi Malouin, L. Picard, W. McKay, H. Martin, J. Carr, J. Jordan, P. Mc- 
Garvey and George Allen. 

Page Seventy-Three 



THE GROSSE-ISLE TRAGEDY 

St. Foy Road. Messrs. W. Petry, Ed. Prendergast, Richard Charlton and 
Jos. Leaycraft. 

Little River. Messrs. D. Bell, J. Bigaouette, J. O'Brien and M. Condon. 

Beauport to Dorchester Bridge. Messrs. W. Walker, jr., G. Colley, Geo. 
Sturgeon, W. Brown, John Douglas, J. Lane and J. Fox. 

Charlesbourg. Messrs. Andrew Burke, James Meiklejohn and William 
Horan. 

Pointe Levi and New Liverpool. Messrs. Jos. Bourassa, Ed. Lagueux, Jno. 
Walsh, Etienne Dalaire, Jno. Jordan (culler), Thos. Smith, Robert Buchanan, 
Jas. Thomson, Jas. Walsh and J. McNaughton. 

In accordance with instructions, the collectors handed in their returns on the 
I9th February, showing $12,000. By the end of March upwards of $16,000 was 
collected. Of this amount St. Peter's ward gave $3,600, St. Lewis ward $2,200, 
Palace ward $1,600, Champlain ward $1,200 and St. Roch's ward $1,600. 

Well might the Reverend (later Monsignor) Bernard O'Reilly, exclaim in all 
the sincerity of his heart, "Quebec is a noble city, and no mistake. Impover- 
ished though she be, with whole districts still in ruins, and after the calls recently 
made upon her well-known generosity, she is ever the first, and the most liberal 
in the cause of charity. May the prayers of the millions she is now so effectually 
endeavoring to snatch from starvation in Scotland and Ireland draw down upon 
herself new blessings from on high, and may she, in reward for her sympathies 
to our wretched fellow-countrymen, be what she was, and what she ought to be, 
the Empire city of British North America!" 

THE OLD STANDERS 

As many of our readers have seen, the names of those of our race and creed 
in Quebec, who always took an active interest in all matters relating to religion 
and nationality, have been given. There are others also who were "to God and 
Ireland true," and whose names are worthy of being recorded, namely : 

St. Peter's Ward. Messrs. John Quinn, Terence Morgan, Thomas Garde, 
Francis Waters, Patrick Shea, Edward Hartigan, Patrick McGauran, John 
O'Kane, Edward Byrne, Francis Timmony, Patrick Jennings, Patrick Lynet, 
George McDonnell, William Henessy, Jeremiah O'Shea, William Rigney, Philip 
McKenna, M. Kirwin, William Delaney, William Cavanagh, E. Carroll, M. 
Mahony, Christopher Flanagan, M. O'Flaherty, John Regan, James Coolican, 
Denis Cantillon, Maurice Hurly, John Teaffe, Michael Scott, Jas. Crolly, Philip 
Quinn, Edward Quinn, James O'Brien, Michael Hawkins, Thomas Forrestal, 
Michael Cahill, Michael Hanly, John Flanagan and James Beakey. 

St. Lewis Ward. Messrs. John Mahoney, Thos. Murphy, J. J. Saurin ; 
John Curtin, Henry S. McPeak, Patrick Henchey, Wm. Deegan, Patrick Bren- 
nan, Michael Harty, John Maguire, Philip Whitty, Richard Clancy, John Colvin, 
Patrick Colter, John Timmons, Daniel McGlory, Owen McAnally, Patrick Pigeon, 
Jeremiah Madden, Joseph Cavanagh, Thomas Farley, Capt. Alleyn, R.N., Wm. 
McGrath and Michael Dunn. 

Palace Ward. Messrs. Thomas Casey, John King, William Downes, Wil- 
liam Tims, Francis Tims, Thos. Busher, Patrick Weir, James Charlton, John 
Lilly, Thaddeus Kelly, John Grace, Michael Green, Patrick Moran, Thomas Mc- 
Greevy, Maurice O'Leary and Daniel Coveney. 

Champlain Ward. Messrs. Edward Duggan, Jas. Mangan, Wiliam Quinn, 
William McKeghney, Michael Power, John Byrne, Patrick O'Dowd, James Mc- 

- Page Seventy-Four 



THE GROS,S E-ISLE TRAGEDY 

Gill, Peter Donaghue, John Tolland, Patrick Shea, Jas. Corrigan, Edward Moss, 
James Bowen, Patrick Ryan, Daniel Dunn, Jas. Fitzgerald, James Foley, Michael 
Keogan, Patrick Kelly, James Sheridan, John O'Malley, Charles Gilbride, Patrick 
Hickey, Denis Shehan, Thomas Judge, John Leonard, Bernard McMahon, 
Michael Murphy, M. Pender, Thomas Roche, Denis Powell, Michael Foley, 
Michael Hayden, Charles Powell, Jas. Reynolds, Timothy Guilfoyle, Luke Bro- 
thers, Patrick Neville, Michael Barrett, Charles Finlay, Michael Tierney, Thomas 
Murphy, Jeremiah Connors, Nathaniel Morrow, Edward Doran, James McGold- 
rick, Thomas Doran, James O'Neill, Thomas Montgomery, John Connors, Jas. Mc- 
Mahon, Edward Reynolds, John Moore, Wm. Ellis, Thos. Burns, Richard 
Coughlin, Wm. O'Brien, James Trainor, Thomas Connell, Bernard Mahoney, 
James O'Brien, Thomas Lane, Thos. O'Brien, Maurice Quilty, James Burns, 
Thomas Hasset, John McAllister, J. B. Giblin, Jas. Anderson, Patrick O'Brien, 
Daniel Trihey, Thos. Morris, John O'Connor, Michael Harrington, Jas. McVey, 
J. Trihey, D. Dineen, Francis Christie, John Gregg, Stephen Battis, John Paul, 
Anthony Gilmour, Michael Foran, Denis O'Neill, Timothy O'Connell, Patrick 
Grogan, John McMahon, Patrick Forrestal, Thos. Fanning, Patrick Lambert, 
James Feore, John O'Brien, Maurice Feore, Nicholas Roche, Bartholemew 
Walsh, Thomas Berrigan, Thamas Bogue, Bartholemew Trihey, William Bogue, 
Frank McLaughlin, E. Foy, Henry Courtney, Jas. Bogue, James Hayden, 
Edward O'Brien, Jas. Downes, Thos. McGrath, M.D., Thomas Power, James 
Mclnenly, William Leydon, Thos. Griffin, Michael Dalton, Terrence McHugh, 
James Roche and Thomas Mcllroy. 

Toil-Gate to Point e-a-Puiseaux. Messrs. Jas. Dodds, Michael Lynch, Ross 
McCabe, William Kenefick, John Kenefick, George Roche, Thos. Baird, Thos. 
Cullen, Chas. McKinley, James O'Shea, Edward Quinn, John Lill, John Dodds, 
James Lynch, Lawrence Furlong, John Fitzpatrick, Hugh Shannon, Patrick 
Nolan, Richard Kenefick, John Phelan, Richard O'Shea, Thomas Walsh, Thos. 
Rafferty, Thos. Tierney, Cornelius O'Brien, John Munro, Walter Furlong, 
Michael Fitzgibbon, Robert Brindle, Denis O'Sullivan, Thomas Kenefick, Patrick 
McGoldrick, Robt. Galna and Patrick McHugh. 

Sillery Section. Messrs. Stephen Connolly, Denis Bogue, Jas. Lynch, Alex. 
McCabe, Jas. Paul, Michael Fortune, Patrick Mclnenly, jr., Thomas Malone, Jas 
Kerr, Martin Hrgan, Patrick Malone, Wm. Munro, John Kelly, Michael Hogan, 
John Moriarty, Denis Sammon, John French, Jas. Finigan, Thos. Redmond, Wm. 
Power, Thos. Egan, Robt. Quinn, Maurice Malone, Jas. Monaghan and Patrick 
French. 

St. John and St. Lewis Suburbs. Messrs. Patrick Connolly, Chas. Jordan, 
Patrick Kenny, John Hart, John Connolly, Patrick Doherty, John Granary, Jos. 
Coveney, Wm. Haughey, John Coote, Wm. Kirwin, Wm. Woods, Bernard Reilly 
and Wm. McDonagh. 



Poge Seventy-Five 



* fcfc (great Jfflemortai (gathering 




"PFe are children of the same Faith, 
of the same Father." 

MGR. BEGIN. 

NE of the press writers on the subject has well said that not all 
monuments are signs of faith ; some serve only to mark sinful 
pride, but the memorial which, on Sunday, the isth August, 
1909, was unveiled on Telegraph Hill, Grosse Isle, will stand 
for abiding faith and inspired courage as long as time lasts. 
Peace has its victories ; but it also has its tragedies and its vic- 
tims, and the huge Celtic cross that now majestically raises itself 
on high from its island foundation will serve to remind men that there are nobler 
heroes found in lowly places than in the dramatic din of the battlefield. 

This particular memorial has an unusual story to tell and, because of its 
coign of vantage, it will tell that story to wandering thousands who otherwise 
might not have an opportunity to learn of the dreadful fate of a great multitude 
of Irish men and women who fled from famine to encounter another and even 
worse scourge that of the terrible ship fever. It will serve, too, to make known 
the heroism of brave men who stood by those poor people in their hour of need 
and, again, it will cause to be spread far and wide the tale of the clergy who 
walked in a living death that the children of the faith might be administered to. 

It is an unusual story that stone will tell; a story of twelve thousand trage- 
dies, a story of martyrs' crowns won in times of piping peace. 

The story which it will bring to the new people flocking to this great country 
will be a story filled not only with the heart's blood of a great race, but with 
undying evidence of the equal faith, charity and hospitality of the French Cana- 
dians, who were the first settlers on these shores. A tale of terror and suffer- 
ing, of faith and courage, of devotion to fellow-man and unswerving loyalty to 
the faith of their fathers under the most bitter adversity is entwined about the 
great cross which now stands in lonely majesty on the highest promontory of 
Grosse Isle to mark the graves of thousands of unknown Irish martyrs. 

"We are children of the same Faith, of the same Father," said Mgr. Begin, 
Archbishop of Quebec, to the thousands gathered before the altar beside the 
trench-marked cemetery, and throughout the whole of the services attending the 
dedication of the great monument the words seemed to hover over the mourners, 
recalled again and again by evidences of a devotion far beyond that of a brother 
in the terrible trials of 1847 and 1848, which were cited by the speakers. 

Dignitaries of the Church, high officials of State, priests and laymen, Irish 
and French, humble and of high degree, stood side by side beneath the open sky, 
or kneeled silently before the great cross with but one thought the honor of the 
martyrs who had died for their faith. To do honor to their memories, men had 
gathered from a score of Canadian Provinces and American States; many had 
travelled thousands of miles. Awe-inspiring in its solemnity, the scene carried to 
every bowed heart a meaning far beyond words and left a mark which should 
last through a lifetime. A new epoch, a renewal of faith and brotherly love, was 
begun, and few there were in attendance who will not carry the spirit of the great 
gathering with them into daily life. 

From every standpoint the great ceremony was a success. Not a flaw oc- 
curred in the arrangements or their execution. In spite of the comparative inac- 

___ Page Seventy-Six 




MONUMENT BEFORE THE UNVEILING 




MONUMENT AT CAPE DES ROSIERS 



(Photo by Capt. Geo. D. O'Farrell) 



THE GROS<SE-ISLE TRAGEDY 

cessibility of Grosse Isle, every man, woman or child who wished to attend the 
celebration was accommodated. A perfect summer day smiled on the scene, as 
boat after boat to the number of seven, crowded with passengers, left Quebec in 
the early morning. No one was left behind. Thousands had gathered in the city 
during the day and night. Special trains from Ottawa and Montreal brought 
large quotas of members of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, of Church dignitar- 
ies, Government officials and others. 

To the untiring zeal and energy of the A. O. H. officials was due the success 
of the great undertaking. Messrs. P. Keane, Provincial President; P. Doyle, 
T. Heavers, P. Scullion, T. Heaney, J. Foley, H. N. Morrow, H. Cundy, C. G. 
Gleason, J. McGrath, M. Brogan, T. Malone, W. Kennedy and other officers of 
the order in Montreal were in charge of the excursion from there. Having al- 
ready taken a leading part in the movement at the national convention of the 
order in Indianapolis last year, which resulted in the decision to erect the great 
memorial cross, these men were vitally interested in the successful completion of 
the plan and their efforts were fully rewarded. 

From Ottawa even a larger delegation was in attendance, composed of offi- 
cers of the local A. O. H. and others and including Rev. Fathers Sherry, Kav- 
anagh, Finnegan, Quilty, Dowd, Kuntz, French, Sloan, Fallon, McCauley, 
Dunne, &c. From Toronto, Winnipeg and other Canadian cities, including even 
such distant points as Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver, representatives of the 
A. O. H. also flocked to the great celebration, while many of the States of the 
Union further contributed their quotas. From as far away as Colorado, branches 
of the order sent representatives, while four delegates travelled from Winnipeg. 
The States represented were Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, 
New York, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan, 
Illinois and Colorado. 

Altogether, it is estimated that the gathering at Grosse Isle numbered from 
8,000 to 9,000 persons. 

It took seven river steamers to accommodate the crowd and to provide for 
their conveyance to and from Grosse Isle. These were the two Canadian Govern- 
ment steamers, the Alice and Druid, the Murray Bay, of the Richelieu Company, 
the Polaris, the Queen, the Arranmore and the St. Croix. 

fje potabilities present 

The C.G. S. Alice, which had a distinguished company on board and on which 
Hon. Chs. Murphy, Secretary of State for Canada, acted as host, conveyed the 
following: Mgr. Sbaretti, Papal Delegate; Mgr. Sinnot, Secretary; Rev. Dr. 
O'Boyle, Vancouver; Abbe Rene Casgrain; Mgr. Kiernan, Philadelphia; Sir 
Chas. Fitzpatrick, Chief Justice of Canada; Sir C. A. P. Pelletier, Lieutenant- 
Governor Province of Quebec; Capt. Victor Pelletier, A.D.C. ; Wm Power, ex- 
M.P., Hon. Dr. Guerin, Hon. Chas. Doherty, Mr. Beauchamp, President of St. 
Jean Baptiste Society, Montreal ; H. Kearns, St. Patrick's Society, Montreal ; D. 
Coveney, Provincial Secretary A.O.H. ; W. J. Lynch, Department Agriculture, 
Ottawa; Henry Kavanagh, K.C., Montreal; Frank Curran, K.C., Montreal; 
Father Fallon, Ottawa University; Father Valiquet, Superior Oblats, Quebec; 
Abbe Laflamme, Secretary to Archbishop of Quebec; James Timmony, ex-Mayor 
Sillery; James O'Neill, President Division No. 8, A.O.H., Lawrence, Mass. ; Abbe 

Page Seventy-Seven 



THE GROSS E-ISLE TRAGEDY 

Flante, Quebec; P. F. McCaffrey, Montreal; Mr. Johnston, Belfast; Mr. M. 
Lemarchais, member of the Massachusetts Legislature, &c. 

C.G.S. Druid conveyed the officers of the A. O. H., as well as guests, includ- 
ing- ecclesiastics and other prominent men, among whom were the following : 
Mr. Matthew Cummings, National President; Mr. Jas. T. Regan, National Vice- 
President; Mr. Jas. T. McGinnis, National Secretary, and Messrs. Chas. J. Foy, 
J. D. O'Meara, John F. Quinn, P. T. Moran, Major E. T. McCrystal, National 
Directors, A.O.H. In addition were the Provincial and local officers and other 
well-known citizens. Among those who went down on the Druid also were Hon. 
C. R. Devlin, Hon. John C. Kaine, Mr. M. J. Walsh, M.P.P., and Mrs. Walsh, 
St. Ann's division, Montreal; Rev. Father Hanley, C.SS.R., Rector of St. 
Patrick's church ; Rev. Father Woods, St. Patrick's church ; Rev. Father 
Maloney, C.SS.R., St. John, N.B. ; Rev. Father Maguire, Provincial Chaplain of 
the A.O.H. ; Mr. Joseph Turcotte, M.P., Mr. E. B. Devlin, M.P., Mr. Beland, 
Agent of Marine and Fisheries, representing the St. Jean Baptiste Society of 
Quebec; Mr. Ed. Reynolds, one of the founders of the A.O.H. in Quebec; Aid. 
Jos. A. Collier, Aid. P. Hogan, Aid. W. J. Mulroney, of Quebec, and many 
others. Also present on this boat were the members of St. Patrick's choir and 
the press representatives. 

The sail down the river from Quebec to Grosse Isle was a fitting prelude to 
the programme that followed. The trip was made by all the boats under the most 
auspicious circumstances, the beautiful weather adding greatly to the general 
pleasure. To the sweetly pathetic strains of the Irish melodies, discoursed by the 
bands on board, the visitors completed the two hours' trip, reaching Grosse Isle 
at eleven o'clock. As the island came into view marked as it is now by the huge 
Celtic cross, visible for miles a sudden hush fell upon all, the sad associations 
rushing to the mind, all combined to form that indefinable something found down 
deep in every human heart that which the poet priest of the South has endeav- 
ored to depict as a thought too holy for the taint of a word. 

QHie Requiem jHasfS 

Shortly after the arrival of the steamer Alice at the island with its disting- 
uished guests, Mgr. Sbaretti, accmpanied by Mgr. Begin, Lieut. -Governor Sir 
C. A. P. Pelletier, Sir Charles Fitzpatrick, Hon. Charles Murphy, the chief officers 
of the A.O.H. and a number of the visiting clergymen, proceeded to the tempor- 
ary altar erected specially for the occasion on ground overlooking the cemetery of 
1847-48. The Papal Delegate took his seat on the left of the altar, Mgr. Sinnott, 
private secretary to His Excellency, and Rev. Abbe Casgrain, chaplain to the 
Lieutenant-Governor, occupying seats respectively on the right and left of the 
Delegate. Mgr. Begin, who occupied a seat on the right of the altar, was assisted 
by Rev. Mr. Derome, chaplain at Grosse Isle, and Rev. Mr. Arsenault. The 
celebrant of the requiem mass was, as already said, Rev. Father Hanley, C.SS.R., 
rector of St. Patrick's Church, Quebec, the musical portion of the service being 
splendidly rendered by a special choir of Irish ladies and gentlemen of that city 
under the leadership of Mr. E. A. Batterton, and accompanied by the Q.O.C.H. 
band. 

The guard of honor around the altar was furnished by the uniformed Knights 
of Montreal and St. John, N.B., and the Hibernian Cadets of Quebec, the former 
"carrying swords" in salute during the elevation of the Host. 
_ ________ Page Seventy- Eight 



THE GROSS. E -ISLE TRAGEDY 

The scene during the celebration of the holy sacrifice, with the sun shining 
down upon the multitude, amid the green trees and by the side of the placid river, 
was one never to be forgotten, the thousands of the faithful kneeling during the 
solemn ceremony upon the rocky ground near which was buried the remains of so 
many thousands of their race, being a most impressive sight. 

&eb* Jfatfjer Jflaautre'* Sermon 

At the conclusion of the mass, Rev. Father Maguire, parish priest of 
Sillery, Provincial Chaplain, A.O.H., ascended the altar steps and delivered the 
following sermon : 

"As gold in the furnace, he hath proved them, and as 
a victim of a holocaust, he has received them, and in 
time there will be respect had to them." ( WISDOM, 
CH. III., v. 6). 

YOUR EXCELLENCY, YOUR GRACE, MY DEAR BRETHREN : 

What a strange picture, unique in history, does this vast assemblage present! 
From near and distant parts of this broad and free Dominion of Canada and the 
great United States of America, men of humble calling, men holding high station 
in Church and State, especially honored and favored by the distinguished presence 
of His Excellency the Apostolic Delegate, by the gracious presence of the vener- 
able Archbishop of this great diocese, all animated and impelled by the strongest 
sentiments of religion and nationality, we have met on this quarantine island 
as representatives of the Irish race to pay loving tribute to thousands of our 
brethren whose dust forms the soil we are treading; to honor their graves with 
the incense of prayer and sacrifice and to feast our eyes with the sight of that 
emblem of faith and nationality, the Celtic cross, which to-day is to be dedicated 
and blessed by His Excellency the Delegate of the Holy See. 

For years it has been the oft repeated wish of our people that this spot be 
marked by a monument worthy of the thousands of our down-trodden race who 
here fell victims to the famine and ship-fever of 1847, but for want of organization 
the pious project had not materialized until the Ancient Order of Hibernians 
took the matter in hand. Last year the chief officer of this great society, in 
words glowing with religious patriotism, portrayed to the hundreds of delegates in 
convention at Indianapolis, Indiana, the scenes of the awful tragedy at Grosse' 
Isle. "I consider," he said, "the grave containing so many thousands of our 
race the most sacred spot in America." The answer was unanimous and hearty, 
and to-day we pride ourselves that a national and sacred duty has been nobly 
fulfilled. 

But this cross is not alone a memorial of the Irish exiles who died here ; it is 
also a monument of lasting gratitude, and a memorial bearing to future gener- 
ations the names of that band of forty-two priests, soldiers of Christ, than whose 
heroism none greater was ever witnessed on any field of battle. The Catholic 
priest responds, he must respond, to the most perilous duty; there is no shirking 
when called to the plague-house or the bed of contagion to console the sick and ad- 
minister the sacraments to the dying. Thus it was with this noble band, most :>f 
whom were Canadians of French extraction, comforting, like the Good Samaritan, 
the robbed and wounded stranger, working without flinching among the dead and 
dying. True it is, they were consoled in their performance of duty by the mani- 
festations all around them of that deep Irish faith, of that perfect resignation to 

Page Seventy-Nine 



THE GROSSE-ISLE TRAGEDY 

God's holy will, which accompanied their lamentations, their exclamation, "How 
long, O Lord, how long,'* yet willing to drink to the dregs the chalice 'of their 
sorrow. Yes, this and the prayers and blessings heaped upon the welcome priest, 
consoled and fortified him. Father Taschereau, then professor of rhetoric at the 
Seminary of Quebec, later Archbishop of Quebec and Cardinal, one of those who 
contracted the contagion, writes from the scene of horror that he is filled with a 
happiness he never felt before and that the only sorrow that he can experience at 
Grosse Isle will be brought to him by the letter that shall order his recall. These 
priests have gone to their eternal reward, one only remaining whom God has left 
to see this day. We had hoped till this morning to have him in our midst, but 
the too long journey from his home in New Brunswick debarred us of this hap- 
piness. Had he been permitted to come, how all eyes would have turned and all 
hearts been drawn to the old priest of ninety-six years, that veteran of the sanc- 
tuary, the venerable Father Hugh McGuirk. 

This occasion necessarily brings us back to one of the saddest chapters of 
Ireland's sad history under foreign rule that which recalls the loss to Ireland of 
two millions of her people, whether by death or exile. History teaches us that 
legislation and tariff regulations made to benefit England's commercial enterprises 
had so discouraged Irish trade and industry as to leave agriculture as the only 
resource of the Irish people and the potato as the only food of the Irish peasantry. 
Hardly in any country coming within the pale of civilization was such a thing to 
be found as a whole peasant population relying for their food on one vegetable. 
When the crop failed in the fall of 1846 it was ominous and the outlook was ser- 
ious. Two repeated failures absolutely deprived the people of the country and the 
poor of the towns of their only means of sustaining life. An agonizing cry went 
up all over the land ; famine stalked through that beautiful isle. People were 
dying everywhere, at home, in the fields, on the roads, in the churches. 

The Irish poor-law system was now doomed to destruction ; it could no longer 
stand the demand, the rush for food. Until 1846 work-houses were held in 
abomination. Mothers would suffer the direst poverty rather than allow the 
breaking up of home, separation from their children. But soon the harrowing 
pangs of starvation made them submit and even the jails were a happy refuge, 
therein at least they hoped to be fed. Then commenced the cruel breaking of na- 
ture's closest bonds, the brutal separating of husband and wife, the child torn 
from its mother ; scenes that would melt a heart of stone. But they submitted, 
feeling that they must part; death was all around, staring into their gaunt and 
pallid features. They parted half willing, knowing that it was departing for a 
better home beyond the skies. "They separated," says Sullivan, "as victims at 
the foot of the guillotine." 

What has been called "the Irish Exodus," had now truly begun. The cry 
to America! resounds everywhere. There is a mad rush for the emigrant ship. 
The emigrant ship of black '47. What feelings are stirred up in the soul by that 
term. It recalls the separation of dearest friends, the tearing away of brother 
from sister, of sons from aged parents, the father's God bless you and last fare- 
well; it recalls the breaking of hearts, the vain effort of faltering and grief-choked 
voices, the last glimpse of the waving handkerchief watched through a haze of 
tears, the last glimpse of Ireland! 

In those days of the sailing vessel, when the rapid ocean greyhound was un- 
known, the ocean voyage lasted from six to as many as twelve weeks. When we 
consider that the vessels were all without sanitary piecautions, that the food was 
not only the poorest, but insufficient; that the water was bad and rarely given, 

___ Page Eighty 




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D 
o- 

LJ 

cc 
i'J 

I 



THE GROSSJS-ISLE TRAGEDY 

sometimes refused for more than a day ; that the passengers, men, women and 
children, were packed together to a stifling degree, is it wonderful then that 
every one of the eighty-four ships that had reached here at the opening of naviga- 
tion were all reeking with pestilence and that the priests who boarded these vessels 
and penetrated under deck, with smoking lanterns to pick their way, were almost 
immediately forced back, only being able to remain below after several efforts, 
and then only for short visits. Some of these vessels had not yet thrown all theic 
dead into the sea and these would be piled as cordwood upon the shore. 

The condition of things was at first only a trifle better on land ; the few sheds 
were crowded as was t u e little chapel that stood on yonder hill. The patients 
lay in hundreds for some time under the canopy of heaven, and the death rate rose 
at times to 200 a day. Before quarantine closed many were sent to Montreal, 
where the disease made thousands of victims. By-town, now Ottawa, Kingston 
and Toronto, suffered dreadfully by the epidemic, and the inhabitants of those 
cities know the tale of woe. 

Orphans to the number of 600 were adopted into kind French-Canadian fam- 
ilies. Father Cazeau, later Vicar-General, used his great influence with the priests 
to have homes provided for these children, many of whom afterwards became 
priests and nuns. By his constant kindness to these children he was called "the 
father of the Irish." Pages most pathetic have been written on this subject, 
so familiar that they need no repetition here. Considering the late hour and the 
beautiful discourses with which you are to be regaled, I have perhaps overstepped 
the limit assigned me. But before abandoning this altar let us lift up our eyes on 
this day of the Assumption to our home in heaven, where our Savior greets 
His Blessed Mother and ask her to intercede with her Divine Son to shower 
his blessings upon us and upon the land of our fathers and hasten the day when 
the eagle spirit of old Ireland, arising from the sepulchre, may set its gaze on the 
never setting sun of freedom. 

Following the sermon, the Papal benediction was given by Mgr. Sbaretti and 
a solemn Libera for the dead was sung by the Archbishop of Quebec, assisted by 
Rev. Father Maloney, C.SS.R., and Rev. Father O'Farrell, rector of St. Ed- 
ward's of Frampton, and accompanied by the choir and band. 

jfWgr Pegin'* exportation 

The morning's proceedings were concluded by His Grace of Quebec, Mgr. 
Begin, who delivered in English one of the most eloquent addresses of the day. 
He said : 

"My DEAR BRETHREN: 

"This day is truly memorable for the Irish in America. It is more particularly 
so for your fellow-countrymen of this province and might I not rightly add? for 
those of the archdiocese and city of Quebec. 

"You have come here to consecrate by a fitting monument the memory of a 
sad yet edifying page of your nation's history that which recalls the exile and 
death, but likewise, the heroism, the constancy and faith of those who in " '47 
and '48 " ended here as one of the sentences engraved on this monument so aptly 
expresses it "life's sorrowful pilgrimage." 

"A monument, according to the true meaning of the word, is a token, a sign 
of remembrance. You, of this present generation, have heard from the lips of 
the survivors of that woeful period the tale of their trials and sufferings ; but your 

Page Eighty-One 



THE GROS<SE-ISLE TRAGEDY 

place will soon be filled if it is not already so by others who might little dream 
of the mourning and sadness that heralded the advent of their forefathers to the 
land of their adoption. 

"Your fellow-citizens of French descent had learned before you, on these very 
shores, the bitter lesson of hardship and privation; and so as not to forget the 
heroism of their ancestors, they have chosen for their motto the simple words: "Je 
me souviens," "I remember." Is it not a kindred sentiment that has inspired the 
organizers of this present imposing celebration? They, too, wish the rising gen- 
eration to remember the noble lesson of Christian fortitude bequeathed them by 
the pioneers of Ireland's exodus to this country. 

"Let me, therefore, in a few words, explain to you the symbolism of your 
monument, of this great sign you have erected ad futuram rei memoriam to per- 
petuate the memory of a notable event on the brow of this hill that commands a 
glorious view of the mighty St. Lawrence. 

"It is the cross, the instrument of our redemption, whose sign blessed the dy- 
ing pilgrims, anointed their senses in extreme unction, absolved them for the last 
time, and hallowed the graves wherein they were laid for eternal rest; it is the 
image of the cross which they will behold in the heavens when, at the end of 
time, the Redeemer will come to call to their everfcasting reward "those that have 
slept," as says the Holy Scripture, those who are in this cemetery. 

"It is the Celtic cross, the cross of Ireland, of Patrick, of Columbkille, the 
cross for which your martyrs suffered, bled and died. It is a cross of granite, 
indestructible as the faith of which it is the emblem. 

"This cross is planted on the soil of French Canada, on the banks of the river 
discovered by the immortal Jacques Cartier. This fact should remind you that 
history repeats itself. As, in days gone by, France, the then most Christian 
nation, befriended anl honored the saints and sages of Ireland, and enlisted in her 
glorious armies many of the valiant sons of your Catholic nation, some of whose 
descendants brought fame to Canada likewise, when dire necessity drove your 
forefathers from the land of their birth it was on the shores of this French-speak- 
ing province that numbers of them were welcomed and harbored and treated as 
brothers in Christ, and members of the same household. 

"It behooves me not to repeat here a familiar page of our annals, nor to re- 
mind you of the heroic charity of those priests who, at the bidding of the Arch- 
bishop of Quebec, Mgr. Joseph Signay, hastened to the assistance of the fever- 
stricken immigrants. Of that missionary band the majority were of French 
Canadian nationality. Eagerly they joined their Irish confreres under the zealous 
direction of Father Bernard McGauran, of beloved memory. The archives of my 
house reveal the most touching proofs of their devotedness, and of their cheerful- 
ness in the performance of their trying duties. 

"I can assure you, My Lord, writes Father McGauran, that I never, in all my 
life, experienced such consolation. The blessings of the sick and dying soothe all 
my pains." 

"My venerable predecessor in the See of Quebec, Cardinal Taschereau, then a 
youthful priest, writes in the same strain: "My only regret, he says, is for not 
having come here sooner, and my only dread is to have to leave this island." 

"Are not such declarations a worthy echo of the words of the Apostle: 
"Superdbundo gaudiis in omne tribulatione nostra. I exceedingly abound with 
joy in all our tribulation?" 

"History has recorded the names of those of our priests who, in those heroic 

Page Eighty-Two 



THE G R O S >S E - I S L E TRAGEDY 

times, paid with their lives the privilege of their sacred calling, and gave to their 
afflicted brethren evidence of a "love greater than which no man hath." 

"This cross will bear their names down to posterity, 'graven, as Holy Writ 
says, as with an instrument on flintstone.' Let it, therefore, stand aloft as a 
token of your gratitude towards the missionaries who, at their life's peril, fortified 
the souls of your forefathers on the threshold of eternity! Let it shine forth as the 
grateful tribute of those 600 orphans, most of whom were welcomed to the homes 
of our French-Canadian province and treated to say the least with the same 
affection as those of their own blood, and who became later the flower and pride 
of their adoptive country! 

"Let the cross stand as the symbol of that union that should ever bind to- 
gether those who are of one baptism of faith, because they are all sons of one 
Father, God, of one Mother, the Holy Catholic Church, redeemed by the same 
precious blood of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ." 

Qflfje jWonument 3Sntoeileb 

This discourse brought the religious exercises to a close, when the assemblage 
dispersed to visit other points of interest on the island, but at two o'clock in the 
afternoon they gathered again at the site of the national monument for the cere- 
monies of the unveiling and dedication, at which Mr. C. J. Foy, National Director 
of the A.O.H. for Canada, presided, and where almost more impressive than the 
scene of the kneeling thousands before the open altar near the old cemetery was 
the scene at the foot of the great cross. 

Cfjatrman Jfop'* Sbbresg 

Before inviting His Excellency Mgr. Sbaretti to unveil and bless the national 
memorial, the Chairman delivered the following magnificent address : 

Your Excellency, Most Reverend Archbishop, Right Reverend Bishops, Very 
Reverend and Reverend Fathers, Mr. National President, National Officers 
and Invited Guests : 

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN : 

I am, indeed, proud of the occasion which gives me an opportunity of ad- 
dressing you to-day. In arising to do so my feelings are a fitting and striking 
illustration of a paradox. There are feelings of sadness which must arise in the 
heart of every true Irishman when he reflects that at some time in the distant past 
a circumstance there was in the history of Ireland which necessitated the Irish to 
emigrate from their native land, and in doing so meet death on the foreign shores 
of Canada. But there are feelings of joy which also must arise in the hearts of 
true Irishmen to-day, that, although such a circumstance has arisen, and, although 
thousands of our kith and kin met death on this island, yet, though land and sea 
may divide the scattered children of the Gael, we come together on this occasion 
to perform the last sad but long deferred rites over the graves of the exiles of Ire- 
land. 

Before proceeding further, I wish, on behalf of and in the name of the A.O.H. 
of America, to thank the reverend clergy and the gentlemen of State, who are pre- 
sent with us to-day present at a great sacrifice to themselves, and on account of 
that sacrifice the A.O.H. appreciates the honor the more. I wish also to thank 

Page Eighty-Three 



THE GROSSE-ISLE TRAGEDY 

the brothers from the south of us who appear here to-day in such large and repre- 
sentative numbers. 

It would be superfluous on my part to dwell at any length upon the circunv 
stance which calls us together to-day, because that will be dwelt upon and ex- 
plained by those who come after me and who are more fitted and capable of per- 
forming that duty than I am. Suffice it to say that we assemble here to-day for 
the purpose of showing our respect to the dead who died for Ireland ; also to show 
our appreciation of the devotion which they had to Faith and Fatherland. 

One of the grandest sentiments one of the noblest that has ever been im- 
planted by Almighty God in the heart of man is the love of the land that bore him, 
the pleasure of standing upon the soil of one's birth, the pleasure of preserving 
every association that surrounds our childhood and our youth, the pleasure, sad 
and melancholy though it be, of watching every gray hair and wrinkle that time 
sends even to those whom we love ; these are among the keenest and grandest 
pleasures of which the heart of man is capable ; and, therefore, it is that to be ex- 
iled from his native land has always been looked upon by man as a penalty and a 
grievance. This is true even of men whom nature has placed amid the most bar- 
ren surroundings. The Swiss peasant, who sees no form of beauty in nature, but 
her most rugged, most austere and bold proportions, so truly loves his mountain 
home that it were a heart-break for him to be torn from it, even were he to spend 
his exile in the most luxuriant gardens of the earth. Much more does the pain 
of exile rest upon the children of a race at once the most generous, the most kind- 
hearted and the most loving in the world. Much more does the pain of exile rest 
upon the children of a race who look back to their motherland as to a fair and 
beautiful land, with climate temperate and delicious, soil fruitful and abundant, 
scenery now arising into the glory of magnificence and again softening into the 
tenderest pastoral beauty, history the grandest of all nations of the earth, asso- 
ciations the tenderest, because the most Christian and the most virtuous. All 
these and more aggravate the misery and increase the pain which the Irishman of 
all other men must feel when he is exiled from his native land. Yet, my friends, 
among the destinies of the nations, the destiny of the Irish race from the very 
beginning has been that of a voluntary or involuntary exile. Two great features 
distinguish the history of our race and our peopL the first of these is that we 
are of a warrior and warlike race, quick, impulsive, generous, fraternal, and 
always ready to fight and even to fight for the sake of fight. And the student 
of history must know that wherever Irishmen are, there is a taste for military 
organization and for war, and in scanning the pages of Irish history you will find 
that the Irish people have always been engaged in war with their more astute and 
powerful enemies around and about them, from the day that the Dane landed in 
Ireland, at the close of the eighth century, up to the present time. For the last 
1200 years Ireland has been engaged in fighting. War with the Dane for nearly 
300 years ; war with the Saxon for nearly 800 years, and, unfortunately for poor old 
Ireland when she had not the Dane or the Saxon to fight with, her children picked 
quarrels and fought among themselves. Now, the second great feature of her 
destiny seems to have been, as traced in her history, that it was the will of God 
and her fate that a large portion of her people should be constantly either driven 
from her shores or obliged by force of circumstances to leave it apparently of 
their own free will. 

The Irish exile is not a being of to-day or yesterday. I turn over the time- 
honored pages of history, I scan those pages closely, and I find emblazoned on the 
pages of the history of every nation of the earth the most illustrious names of the 

Page Eighty - F our 




THE ORATORS OF THE DAY ADDRESSING THE GATHERING 

Sir Charles Fitzpatrick, Chief Justice of Canada. 




THE ORATORS OF THE DAY ADDRESSING THE GATHERING 
Mr. C. J. Foy, National Director A. O. H. for Canada, Chair- 
man of the Gathering. 



THE GROSSE-ISLE TRAGEDY 

exiles of Erin. And there could be no more suitable theme for an address on this 
occasion than the Exiles of Erin. And why? Because, my friends, I hold, as an 
Irishman, that next to the religion that I love comes the religion of my love for 
Ireland and my glory in her. Every page in her history that has a record of 
glory brings joy to your hearts and to mine. Every argument that builds up the 
temple of Irish fame upon the temples of Religion and Virtue should introduce 
into your hearts and mine a strong, strong feeling of pride for our native land. 
Why should we not be proud of her? Has she ever in her long record of history 
wronged or oppressed any people? Never. Has she ever attempted to plunder 
from any people the sacred birthright of liberty? Never. Has she ever in that 
long line of history wielded the sword in an unjust or unworthy cause? Never. 
Blood has stained the sword of Ireland. For ages blood has dripped from the 
national sword of Ireland; that sword has been crimsoned with the blood of the 
nation. Never did Ireland draw a sword unjustly, but solely in the defence of 
the highest, holiest and best of causes the Altar of God and the Altar of the 
Nation. 

And now, my friends, coming to consider the exiles of Ireland, I find three 
great epochs are marked in the history of Ireland with the sign of the exile of her 
children from it. The first of these : Go back for nearly 1500 years, when in the 
year 432 St. Patrick returned from. Rome to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ 
to the Irish people. The Irish heart received and became Catholic under the very 
eye and hand of St. Patrick as no nation on the face of God's earth had ever done 
before or perhaps ever will unto the end of time. There never was as happy a 
nation as she at that time. Everything seemed to prosper. The result of her 
agricultural pursuits were second to none in the world. She had commercial rela- 
tions with all the countries of the world as was evidenced by the flags of all na- 
tions flying at the mastheads of the various ships that sought her harbors. Men 
flocked to her shores from all the other countries of Europe to complete their 
studies. Christianity flourished ; colleges were erected where the youth of the 
land could be taught. Seminaries were built wherein the youth could still further 
have instilled into their minds the holy tenets of their religion fitting them for the 
priesthood. Churches dotted the fair land and the stately spire towering aloft, 
holding high towards heaven that divine symbol of man's redemption the glor- 
ious sign of the cross, met the eye at every turn. She was rightly known as the 
Isle of Saints and Scholars. When those scholars coming from foreign lands in- 
formed their saintly teachers that in the land from whence they came no religion 
such as was practised in Ireland was known, then the Irish priest, fired with divine 
enthusiasm, started out for European countries, as the history of these respective 
countries proudly shows. This is the first great exodus from Ireland, and it is 
what might be called a voluntary exile and can properly be called the exile of faith. 
And so we find that as early as the time of Henry the Eighth and Queen Elizabeth 
the Irish emigrated as soldiers to various shores the armies of France, Spain 
and Italy gladly received them. They knew that the post of danger was safe in 
the hands of the Irish soldier until the enemy walked over his dead body. The 
emigration of the Irish soldier continued, but the greatest emigration of this na- 
ture occurred after the breaking of the Treaty of Limerick. The siege of Limer- 
ick, as you know, was rahed and the Irish soldier, under the able leadership of 
Patrick Sarsfield, was allowed to leave that city with drums beating, flags flying 
and every emblem of a great victory. But, as you know, the Treaty of Limerick 
was broken ere the ink wherewith it was written could dry, and the Irish soldiers, 
to the number of 10,000 or more, under Patrick Sarsfield, sought refuge in the 

Page E ig hty- F ive 



THE GROSSE-ISLE TRAGEDY 

army of France, where at least twenty thousand of their fellow-countrymen were 
already doing service. This is what I would term the exodus of hope, because 
they went forth with the hope that one day they would return to Ireland, and with 
their French allies sweep the Anglo-Saxon from off the sacred soil of Erin. But 
the French Revolution came and the Irish Brigade was disbanded and the hope 
that they cherished was never realized. The year 1800 saw Ireland deprived oi 
her Parliament, and from that very day every honest Irishman who loved his coun- 
try felt that there was an additional argument put upon him to turn his thoughts 
and his eyes to some other land. It is safe to say that the emigration to this 
country took form and shape from the day that Ireland lost her legislative inde- 
pendence, for next to the privilege of loving his country, the dearest privilege a 
man can have is a voice in the making of his laws and the making of his own 
government. The emigration to this country continued, but it is not of these, but 
that of the emigrant of 1846, '47 and '48 I speak. Need I recall the trials of the 
Father of the Nation Daniel O'Connell ; need I recall the trials and tribulations 
passed, after fighting so successfully that battle for Catholic Emancipation. To 
add to the horrors of the time, the news goes forth that the hand of God hath 
touched the nation and blight has come upon the crops. The Irish are dying by 
the thousands. My friends, there is no more pathetic incident in the history rf 
that country than the spectacle of that grand old man tottering feebly up the steps 
of Westminster to plead the cause of Ireland and his afflicted countrymen. That 
Parliament House which had resounded to his appeals in the past now re-echoed 
only the feeble voice of a heart-broken patriot. O'Connell returned to Ireland and 
took counsel with the Irish people. Now Ireland turned her wistful eyes and from 
her western cliffs she looked across the vast expanse of ocean. Far away in the 
western main, she beheld a new and mighty country springing up, where the 
exile might find a home, where the free man could find air to breathe, and where 
the lover of his country could find a country worthy of his love. The Irish people 
set out for America, O'Connell for Rome. O'Connell is in heaven to-day I be- 
lieve it in my own heart and soul. I believe that if his joys in heaven can be 
brightened, they will be when he knows and sees the increased wealth, the in- 
creased numbers, the power and the influence of those same Irish and their des- 
cendants as they exist to-day on the continent of America. Thousands of those 
Irish emigrants sought the shores of Canada, but, emaciated by the trials and 
tribulations which they had to undergo in the transportation at the time, they 
landed upon the shores of Canada, where death in its most horrible form awaited 
them. At least 12,000 lie buried in the shade of this monument, which the A.O.H. 
of America has erected to their memory to say to the whole world that though ab- 
sent they are not forgotten. They left home for the love of their faith and the 
love of their fatherland, and that same spirit which animated the Irish saintly 
exile of IAOO years ago, the same spirit which animated the Irish soldiers of six 
and sevejj* hundred years ago, and the same spirit which animated the Irish exile 
of less tf&n one hundred years ago, still animates the mind and heart of every 
true son and daughter of Erin, no matter in what portion of the world he or she 
may be placed Love of Faith and Fatherland. If there is one thing that outlives 
every$)ther in the heart of the true Irishman it is his inborn love for Ireland, for 
Ireland's greatness and for Ireland's glory. Our forefathers loved it, knew how 
to hold it and to cherish it. The glory of a Faith that has never been tarnished, 
and the glory of a national honor that has never bowed down to acknowledge 
itself a slave is ours ; the burden and responsibility of that glory is yours and mine 
to-day. The glory of a battle which has been so long fought and is by no means 

Page Eighty-Six 



THE GROS^SE-ISLE TRAGEDY 

closed. The glory of a faith that has been so long and so well defended. The 
glory of a national virtue that has made Irishmen the bravest and Irishwomen the 
purest in the world that glory is yours and mine to-day. 

And, of all other men, both as Irishmen, as Canadians, as Americans, you 
and I together are bound to show the whole world that what Irishmen have been 
in ages past they intend to be in ages to come A Nation and a Church that have 
never allowed a stain of dishonor or perfidy to be placed upon her national banner 
or on her national altar A Nation and a Church, that, in spite of their hard fate 
and their misfortunes, can still look the world in the face and say, although : 

"We've bowed beneath the chastening rod, 

We've had our griefs and pains, 
But with them all we still thank God, 

The blood is in our veins, 
The ancient blood that knows no fear, 

The stamp is on us set, 
And so, however foes may jeer, 

We're Irish yet We're Irish yet." 

In sobriety, in industry, in jnanly self-respect, in honest pride of everything 
that an honest man ought to be proud of in all these and in respect for the laws 
of our respective country lies the secret of your honor and mine and of our na- 
tional existence. Let Irishmen in Canada, in the United States, in the whole 
world, be faithful, be Catholic, be practical, be obedient to the law, be respectful to 
the flags under which we live, fight for them, if needs be, die for them be all this 
and the day will come, with the blessing of God, upon you and me when the exiles 
and we, the sons and daughters of the Exile of Erin, will live to see the hopes and 
aspirations of these dear departed fulfilled and we will see a glorious, a free and 
an unfettered Ireland. 

QHje $)apal delegate'* tribute 

Then, while the band played "God Save Ireland," the crowd bared their heads 
and the Hibernian Knights stood with reversed swords, followed the solemn un- 
veiling and blessing of the monument by Mgr. Sbaretti, who, in doing so, also 
delivered a short address, saying : 

"I am particularly glad that it has been possible for me to be here to-day to 
accomplish an act which is not only dear to my own heart, but dear as well, I am 
sure, to the heart of the Holy Father. History tells us that in the direst and dark- 
est days of the annals of your noble race the Holy Father was the steadfast friend 
and supporter of the Irish people. He put at the service of the cause of justice 
and liberty of his children all the moral influence and material means at his dis- 
posal. As the Irish people in all their history ever showed they were not second to 
any Catholic nation in their love for the ancient Faith, in their generosity for the 
Catholic cause, and in their attachment and devotion to the Supreme Pontiff, 
so no friend of the Irish people was so constant and loving, no protector so faith- 
ful and just, no benefactor so generous and staunch as the supreme father of the 
faithful. It would, I am sure, be a great satisfaction to the paternal heart of our 
great Pontiff to know that, through the part in these festivities which has been ac- 
corded to his humble representative, he is so intimately associated with his chil- 
dren to-day in the inauguration of a monument which is an attestation of love and 

Page Eighty-Seven 



THE GROSSE-ISLE TRAGEDY 

gratitude on the part of the descendants of the Irish people, in America love for 
their brethren who fell victims to a dreaded scourge and gratitude to those who 
came to their succor in the sore hour of trial a monument which will recall to the 
memory of future generations the heroes of Catholic faith, and the heroes of Cath- 
olic charity." 

Mgr. Sbaretti also reviewed the facts of the famine, and added : 
"If we seek the deep reason of them, it will not be hard to find. The princi- 
pal reason for which the sons of Ireland stood and faced the consequences of these 
terrible adversities was their inflexible adherence to the faith. And thus while we 
sorrow and are afflicted in recalling one of the most heartrending pages in the his- 
tory of any people, at the same time we rejoice and feel proud at the strength of 
their faith which made them overcome difficulties, despise all dangers and face 
death itself. 

"Both peoples, Irish and French, have suffered much and fought valiantly 
in the cause of holy religion. Almighty God in his mercy has aroused their strug- 
gles both here in this country side by side, in prosperity and peace, enjoying the 
blessings of civil and religious liberty. As they were united in the hour of afflic- 
tion so I earnestly hope and ardently pray that they may be always one, and, both 
scions of noble Catholic races, that they may go forward hand in hand for the 
welfare of their religion and their common country." 

Itye Rational $resibent's &bbreg 

Mr. Matthew Cummings, National President, A.O.H., who was the next 
speaker, was received with prolonged applause. 

"The history of Ireland said he is a sad one, but the saddest page in its 
whole history is connected with the famine year, black '47. 

"Before the famine the population of Ireland was nearly nine millions; it is 
less than half of that number to-day. A blight came on the potato crop in the 
years '46 and '47, but the fields waved with golden grain, sheep and cattle roamed 
and fattened on the fertile soil, and yet cold and calculating history tells us that in 
a few years one-quarter of the population died of starvation. Think of it, men of 
the Irish race, two millions of your kindred died of starvation, with sufficient food 
in the fields to feed five times the population. When the famine became severe, 
orders were given by the English Government to save the grain and cattle for the 
landlord. The British soldiers were placed between the Irish people and the pro- 
ducts of their land. The landlords, in order to evade the payment of poor rates, 
swept the people from the land to die on the roadside. 

"Those who could find means of transportation emigrated mostly to the Uni- 
ted States and Canada. The Government sometimes furnished hulks of vessels, 
afterwards called coffin ships, to bear away the fever-stricken exiles. 

"During the year '47 one hundred thousand Irish exiles sailed for Canada. It 
is estimated that at least one-quarter of that number died that year from famine 
and fever. This quarantine station that we now stand on could be traced frorrf 
Ireland by the bones of Irish emigrants who died on shipboard and were buried at 
sea. During that year between five and six thousands died while crossing the 
Atlantic and were thrown overboard. More than twelve thousand died in the 
fever sheds and were buried in yonder pits. Thousands crawled from the fever 
sheds to these rocks that you now look upon, and were washed away and drowned 
by the rising tide, being too weak to save themselves. 

_ Page Eighty-Eight 



THE GROSS- E-ISLE TRAGEDY 

"At Point St. Charles, Montreal, more than five thousand were buried. Thou- 
sands were also buried at Kingston, Ontario and St. John, New Brunswick. 

"We of the Irish race owe a debt of gratitude to the French priests and people 
of Canada for the kindness, hospitality, and friendship shown at that trying and 
critical period to those of our race who came among them. 

"They cared for the sick and buried the dead, at the great risk of catching the 
deadly fever themselves. They cared for the little Irish orphans who were some- 
times found playing with the bodies of their dead parents. They brought them 
up in the faith of their fathers, educated them, and some of those orphans after- 
wards became leading men in business, and in the professions. 

"The French and Irish are kindred races and the friendship that exists between 
them is historic and of long standing. When the Irish priests and schoolmasters 
were banished as felons by English law, France received them and cared for them. 
When it was a crime to educate young men for the priesthood in Ireland, France 
established the Irish college in Paris, educated young Irishmen, ordained them to 
the priesthood and sent them back to their native country to keep the Catholic 
faith in the hearts of the people. The Irish soldiers after the Treaty of Limerick, 
who refused to fight under the banner of William of Orange, were received with 
open arms by the French Government, were made citizens of that country at once, 
and were given higher wages than the regular soldiers of France. 

"The Irish were never ingrates and, on every battlefield, from Dunkirk to 
Fontenoy, they proved their appreciation and loyalty to France, and so we can 
say to-day to the French people of Canada, that the scattered and exiled Irish race 
have not forgotten the kindly assistance and support given by them to our dying 
kindred during the famine years of '47 and '48. 

"I have heard the story of the famine from my mother's lips, the saddening and 
maddening story, people dying by dozens on the roadside while the proselytizer 
travelled among them offering food and clothing to all who would deny their faith, 
but English statistics prove that no more than one in ten thousand denied their 
faith, but on the contrary died martyrs, having refused the food and clothing to be 
had at the expense of denying their religion. For sixty-two years this grave con- 
taining the remains of twelve thousand of our race has remained unmarked and 
practically uncared for. 

"In the year 1900 your good Father Maguire and the other delegates from 
Quebec who attended the National Convention of the Ancient Order of Hibernians 
at Boston, brought the matter to the attention of the Convention and asked to 
have a suitable Celtic cross erected here at this grave. 

"At that time our organization was not in a position to accede to their re- 
quest, but at the last National Convention, be it said to the credit and honor of the 
Ancient Order of Hibernians of America, it was voted unanimously to appropriate 
$5,000 to be expended by the National Officers for that purpose. To-day we are 
here assembled to unveil and dedicate this magnificent Celtic cross to the memory 
of those poor Irish immigrants who were hunted like wild beasts from their native 
land, and who died victims of pestilence and fever on this bleak island, far from 
the land they loved, for from friends and relatives, their only comfort, their reli- 
gion, and the sight of the brave and saintly Catholic priest bringing the last sac- 
raments of the Church to them. We are told their resignation to the will of God 
in their suffering and misery was remarkable, extraordinary, and most edifying. 

"In the erection of this monument our organization has lived up to its best 
traditions. It has fulfilled a duty it owed to the memory of those poor exiles who 
died here seeking shelter from the misery that was forced upon them. By this 

Page Eighty-Nine 



THE GROSSE-ISLE TRAGEDY 

act we demonstrate to the world that we here in America have not forgotten our 
kindred who died the victims of a Government-made famine sixty-two years ago. 
"That terrible famine scattered the Irish people to every corner of the earth. 
Lady Wilde wrote at that time : 

A million a decade, what does it mean? 

A nation dying of inner decay; 
A churchyard silence where life hath been, 

The base of the pyramid crumbling away ; 
A drift of men gone over the sea, 

A drift of the dead where men should be. 

A million a decade of human wrecks, 

Corpses dying in fever sheds ; 
Corpses huddled on floundering decks, 

Shroudless dead on their rocky biers ; 
Nerve and muscle, heart and brain, 

Lost to Ireland and lost in vain. 

"Here are the fever sheds where those poor people died and you are now 
looking at the rocks that the gifted poet mentioned in her sad verses. From 1840 
until 1860 a million a decade of the flower of Irish manhood and womanhood were 
forced to leave their native land to seek a living on foreign shores, and from 1660 
up to the present day a half a million a decade have sailed from Ireland each year. 
The first five months of the present year nearly twenty thousand young men and 
women emigrated from the old land. Poor old Ireland is sad and lonely, almost 
every family is scattered and separated, but wherever the people go they carry 
with them the faith of their ancestors and respect amounting to veneration for the 
Catholic priesthood. Wherever you find a dozen Irish families you will find a 
Catholic church with its cross pointing heavenward symbolic of man's redemp- 
tion. 

"For more than sixty-two years Ireland has given up the reddest drops of her 
heart's blood through emigration and her people are wanderers over the face o f 
the earth. 

The mission of the Ancient Order of Hibernians is to organize and unite the 
scattered Irish race on the principle it was founded on for God and Country, 
Faith and Nationality. Let us here to-day on the graves of our departed dead re- 
new our obligation to be faithful to the teachings of our holy religion as our 
fathers were, to be true to the principles of Irish nationality, and by that we mean 
the ideal of Irish national independence! Let us ask the sainted dead whose bod- 
ies were thrown in heaps in those pits to breathe a prayer to the Almighty asking 
God to bless the old land, the land of their birth, to grant it prosperity in order 
that her sons and daughters may be able to live in peace and happiness in their 
own land, and to grant it the blessing that all nations are entitled to under God's 
providence absolute freedom. 

"In the name of our great organization I wish to thank the Canadian Govern- 
ment for the many courtesies extended to us in connection with the erection of this 
monument. I also wish to thank the superintendent of this quarantine station 
and the other Canadian officials who in any way assisted us in this difficult work, 
and last, but not least, I thank Father Maguire, County President Gallagher, and 
the other members of our order in Quebec who assisted us in every possible way 
in our efforts to build this monument." 
Page Ninety 




THE ORATORS OF THE DAY ADDRESSING THE GATHERING 
Mr. Matthew Cummings, National President, A. 0. H. 




THE ORATORS OF THE DAY ADDRESSING THE GATHERING 
Hon. Charles Murphy, Canada's Secretary of State. 



THE GROSS. E-ISLE TRAGEDY 

Next presented by the Chairman as one who needed no introduction owing 
to his prominence in the country and his remarkable rise to power and influence, 
Hon. Chas. Murphy, Dominion Secretary of State, received an immense ovation 
as he took his stand on the platform facing the cross and the broad expanse of 
the river, with the eager audience gathered in a natural amphitheatre on the rock 
at his feet. 



Tears came very near the surface as Mr. Murphy opened his address with the 
reading of a telegram which he had received from Vancouver, B.C., a day or two 
before. "This telegram," he said, "means to me the undying loyalty and devo- 
tion of the Irish people, and coming as it does from a family scattered throughout 
the continent, for the memory of a grandmother long since dead, it is particularly 
touching and typical." The telegram is self-explanatory. It follows : 

"VANCOUVER, B.C., August n, 1909. 
HON. CHAS. MURPHY, 

Our beloved grandmother Graham, County Louth (or Antrim), was one of 
the fever victims of 1847. Enclose $10 for flowers for the monument, and accept 
thanks of, 

JAS. HARRISON BROWNLEE, 

(Prov. Surveyor, Vancouver.) 

ARCHIBALD GRAHAM BROWNLEE, 

(Mining Engineer, Denver, Colo.) 

MRS. (WIDOW) STANTON, 

Chicago." 

A beautiful wreath of flowers was then placed against the pedestal of the 
cross, and many tears were furtively wiped from the eyes of strong men and 
women, for the pathos of this message at once struck the sympathy of the mass of 
people and all heads were bared as Mr. Murphy laid on the cross this silent tribute 
from three thousand miles away. 

Continuing his address, the Secretary of State said : While those people 
were, like many others who found death at this place, not of pur religion, yet like 
-Robert Emmett, Charles Stewart Parnell and others, they yielded not one jot in 
their admiration and love for the Irish home land. Monuments, added Mr. Mur- 
phy, are as old as the human race, and as varied in form and purpose as the 
persons and events they have been designed to commemorate. The Celtic cross, 
which has been dedicated here to-day, is so distinctively Irish in form, and is de- 
signed to commemorate an' event of such tragic interest to the Irish Catholic peo- 
ple of Canada that, as their representative in the Government of the Dominion, I 
considered it a paramount duty to assist at these ceremonies and by word and 
presence pay my tribute to those Irishmen and Irishwomen whose ashes are com- 
mingled with the dust of this island. 

This occasion is at once pathetic and historic. Pathetic because it is impos- 
sible to take part in these proceedings without recalling one of the saddest chap- 
ters in the history of that land whose sorrows have stamped her as the Niobe of 
nations. Historic because it not only bridges the span of years that separates 

Page Ninety-One 



THE GROS;SE-ISLE TRAGEDY 

us from the horrors of 1847 and 1848, but because, at that time, it marked a new 
stage in the forward march of our race. 

As the Committee in charge of to-day's programme has assigned to other 
gentlemen the task of dealing with the details of the great Irish famine, I shall 
make only a brief reference to the subject and that merely for the purpose of giv- 
ing continuity to my remarks. 

While it is conceded that the immediate cause of the famine was the failure o{ 
the potato crop, competent authorities are far from admitting that the ensuing 
spread of disease and death among the Irish people was due solely to the blight 
that fell upon their chief staple of food. In a lecture delivered in New York on 
March 2oth, 1847, Archbishop Hughes said : 

"I fear there is blasphemy in charging on the Almighty the results of human 
doings. The famine in Ireland, like the cholera in India, has been for many years 
indigenous. As long as it was confined to a few cases. . . .the public administra- 
tion of the statutes was excusable inasmuch as the facts did not come under their 
notice. 

"But in the present instance it has attracted the attention of the world, and 
they call it God's famine. Yet the soil has produced the usual tribute for the 
support of those for whom it is cultivated. But political economy, finding Ire- 
land too poor to buy the products of its own labour, exported that harvest to a 
better market, and left the people to die of famine or live by alms." 

The same view was expressed by Michael Davitt. In his book "The Fall of 
Feudalism in Ireland," Davitt said : 

"There is probably no chapter in the whole record of human suffering and 
wrong so full of shame measureless, unadulterated, sickening shame as that 
which tells us of (it is estimated) a million of people including, presumably, two 
hundred thousand adult men, lying down to die in a land out of which forty-five 

millions' worth of food was being exported, in one year alone, for rent and 

making no effort, combined or otherwise, to assert even the animal's right to ex- 
istence the right to live by the necessities of its nature." 

Opinions may be multiplied in support of those held by Archbishop Hughes 
and Michael Davitt, but it seems to me that no useful purpose would be served 
by multiplying them, as our business here to-day is less to inquire into the cause 
of the famine than to deal with that phase of it which in 1847 and 1848 was rudely 
brought home to the people of Canada by the sudden influx of nearly one hundred 
thousand Irishmen and Irishwomen whom it drove to our shores. A more per- 
tinent enquiry would be : What was the British Government doing to alleviate 
Irish distress? Both A. M. Sullivan in "New Ireland" and T. P. O'Connor in 
"The Parnell Movement" have supplied the answer. Let me give it in the words 
of Mr. Sullivan. Speaking of Government action, he said : 

"Relief works were set on foot the modes decided on were draining and 

roadmaking. The results were in every sense deplorable failures. The wretched 
people were by this time too wasted and emaciated to work. They tottered at 
daybreak to the roll call, vainly tried to wheel the barrow or apply the pick, but 
fainted away on the cutting, or lay down on the wayside to rise no more." 

Legislation having failed to supply the place of food, Mr. Sullivan thus refers 
to the remedy which was next applied : 

"Later on, relief took the form of soup kitchens, but as apostacy was the 
price demanded for the miserable dole they offered, few of the people meddled with 
them. Those compelled by hunger to resort to the soup kitchens were known as 
'soupers.' Since then the term 'souper' has always reminded one of bitter re- 

. ______ Page Ninety-Two 



THE GROSSE-ISLE TRAGEDY 

proach in Ireland. Thus, had the unfortunate people changed their religion they 
would have been fed and housed." 

And then in one brief paragraph the author lifts the curtain upon the tragedy 
that was to be enacted in Canada. 

"The people forced by famine flocked to leave their country they crowded 
on board the ships all sailing vessels. A tolerably quick passage occupied from 
six to eight weeks, while passages of ten or twelve weeks, and even a longer time 
were not considered at all extraordinary. The people were infected with fever 
when they embarked. The vessels literally reeked with pestilence. Thus the 
people went on the ocean, wafted by the four winds of heaven." 

The climax of the tragedy is, perhaps, best told by Maguire in his "Irish in 
America. " 

"On the 8th of May, 1847, the Urania from Cork with several hundred immi- 
grants on board, a large proportion of them sick and dying of the ship fever, was 
put into quarantine at Grosse Isle. This was the first of the plague-smitten ships 
from Ireland which that year sailed up the St. Lawrence, but before the first week 
in June as many as 84 ships of various tonnage were driven in by an easterly^ 
wind ; and of that enormous number of vessels there was not one free from the 
taint of malignant typhus, the off -spring of famine, and of the foul shipholds. 

"The authorities were taken by surprise, owing to the sudden arrival of the 
plague-smitten fleet, and, save sheds that remained since 1832, there was no ac- 
commodation of any kind on the island. These sheds were rapidly filled with the 
miserable people, the sick and dying, and along their walls lay groups of half- 
naked men, women and children in the same condition sick or dying. Hun- 
dreds were literally flung on the beach, left amid the mud and stone to crawl on 

the dry land how they could Many gasped out their last breath on that 

fatal shore, not able to drag themselves from the slime in which they lay. Death 
was doing its work everywhere in the sheds, around the sheds where the victims 
lay in hundreds under the canopy of heaven, and in the poisonous holds of the 
plague ships, all of which were declared to be, and treated as, hospitals." 

Few descriptions could be more affecting than Maguire's summary of the 
deaths and burials at Grosse Isle : 

"Upon the barren isle as many as 10,000 of the Irish race were consigned 
to the grave pit. By some the estimate is made much higher and 12,000 is con- 
sidered nearer the actual number. A register was kept, and is still in existence, 
but it does not commence earlier than June i6th, when the mortality was nearly 
at its height. According to the death roll, there were buried, between the i6th and 
3Oth of June, 487 Irish immigrants 'whose names could not be ascertained.' In 
July 941 were thrown into nameless graves; and in August 918 were entered in 
the register under the comprehensive description 'unknown.' There were in- 
terred, from the i6th of June to the closing of the quarantine for that year, 2,905 of 
a Christian people, whose names could not be discovered amidst the confusion and 
carnage of that fatal summer. In the following year 2,000 additional victims 
were entered in the same register, without name or trace of any kind to tell who 
they were or whence they had come. Thus 5,000 out of the total number of vic- 
tims were simply described as 'unknown.'' 

Of the terrible visitation that peopled yonder graveyard little more may be 
said. It left more than t six hundred orphans "dependent on the compassion of 
the public; and nobly was the unconscious appeal of this multitude of destitute 
little ones responded to by the French-Canadians." Mayhap the hearts of French 
Canada were stirred to a quicker pulse of pity by the memory of the deeds per- 

Page Ninety-Three 



THE GROSSE-ISLE TRAGEDY 

formed by the "Wild Geese" on Fontenoy and the battlefields of Europe under 
the standard of the fleur-de-lis. Or it may have been that the warm-hearted French- 
Canadians recalled the lustre shed on French arms by the Irish Brigade during 
its five years' service in Canada, and that their sympathies were quickened by the 
memories of Fort George, of Fort William Henry and Fort Duquesne; of Car- 
illon, of Ticonderoga, of Sillery and St. Foye. Whether or not the benefactors of 
these Irish children were influenced by such considerations is immaterial ; the fact 
remains that out of their Christian charity the French-Canadians adopted the 
greater portion of the orphans of the Grosse Isle tragedy and by that act alone 
created an enduring bond between the French and the Irish in Canada. 

Standing on this spot where so much heroism was displayed, any reference to 
the affliction which called it forth would be incomplete if special mention were not 
made of the clergy, both Catholic and Protestant. As at all times of human suf- 
fering, the clergy were unremitting in their attentions to the fever victims, and 
many of them sealed their devotion with their lives. No shaft or column marks 
their last resting-place ; no plate or tablet tells the world of their noble self-sacri- 
fice ; but their names are revered wherever brave men are honored, and their 
memories are forever enshrined in the hearts of the Irish people both in the Old 
Land and in the New. 

The neglect of the graves of the clergy extended to the graves of the Irish 
exiles as well. At intervals attempts were made to remove this reproach from 
our race, but nothing practical was done until the Ancient Order of Hibernians, 
at the suggestion of its President, Mr. Matthew tCummings, took in hand the 
erection of this monument whose unveiling and dedication we have witnessed to- 
day. By their action the Ancient Order of Hibernians have earned the gratitude 
of the Irish race, and their gift of this Celtic cross deserves, in my judgment, to 
rank with their founding of the Chair of Gaelic Literature at the Catholic Univer- 
sity at Washington. It was my privilege to obtain from the Government of which 
I am a member the necessary permission to erect this monument on this site, and 
I desire to thank both Mr. Cummings and the National Director from Canada on 
the Board of the A.O.H., Mr. C. J. Foy, of Perth, Ontario, for having given me 
the opportunity of associating myself with this patriotic movement. Not only 
myself, but the Canadian Government as well. Having performed my duty in 
that regard, it seems to me that another duty remains to be performed, and with 
its performance I would like to be associated. Thanks to the Ancient Order of 
Hebernians, the memory of the Irish exiles who perished here has been rescued 
from oblivion. But what of the clergy of all denominations who laid down their 
lives at humanity's call? Is there not a duty cast upon the Irish race to commenv 
orate their heroism also, and thus furnish posterity with a record of human great- 
ness and a noble example to emulate? Personally I feel that there is such a duty 
cast upon us ; and in view of the success with which Mr. Cummings and Mr. Foy 
have carried to completion all the arrangements for the erection of this Celtic 
cross, I would suggest that they take charge of another movement, to erect a 
monument to the Catholic and Protestant clergy who died here in 1847 and 1848, 
and if they will undertake such a work I will ask the privilege of being allowed to 
contribute one hundred dollars to the monument fund. 

When speaking at the St. Patrick Society Dinner in Montreal on the i7th of 
March last, I announced that the Dominion Government had made a free grant of 
a site for this monument, and ventured to point out the national significance of the 
monument itself. I feel, Sir, that in conclusion I cannot do better than para- 
phrase the words I used on that occasion : 
Page Ninety-Four 



THE GROSSE-ISLE TRAGEDY 

"Primarily this monument will commemorate the heroism of those who left 
their native land rather than abjure that which they prized more dearly than life 
itself. In the next place it will commemorate the kindness of the French-Cana- 
dians, who soothed the dying hours of these Irish exiles, and later assumed the 
duties of parents towards their orphan children. But this monument, Sir, will 
serve another and a more important purpose. We are told that the statue of 
Liberty standing- in majestic watch and ward over New York harbor was de- 
signed to impress the incoming stranger that he is arriving in a land of freedom. 
At best, Sir, that statue is an abstract symbol whose import is grasped by few 
individuals among the teeming thousands who enter New York harbor for the 
first time. Not so with the Celtic cross that now surmounts Telegraph Hill on 
this island. As the incoming stranger sails up the St. Lawrence river, his gaze 
will rest on this monument, and no sooner will he hear its story than his mind 
will receive an indelible impression that this is not only a land of freedom, but 
that it is a land of brotherly love a land where the races live in harmony and 
where each vies with the other in promoting the great work of national unity." 
(Prolonged applause). 

Canaba's etjtcf fusttce 

Sir Charles Fitzpatrick, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, was 
next called upon by the Chairman to address the gathering, and, in doing so, 
assured his hearers that he had not come to make a speech, and to listen to some 
of the speakers who had preceded him one would think that they had entered into 
a compact with his enemies to make him speak, when, as a matter of fact, he was 
receiving a munificent salary to listen to the speeches of others and to keep his 
mouth shut. 

He had come, Sir Charles said, to take part in this great reunion of Irishmen, 
to express his testimony of honor to the memory of his poor countrymen and 
women who had died wiathin a few feet of where they stood ; to show his faith 
in the communion of souls, and to admiringly witness the noble work which the 
A. O. H. had carried out in honor of the dead, declaring that if that organiza- 
tion had never done anything else they were entitled to a deep debt of gratitude 
from the Irish people throughout the world for saving them from lasting dis- 
grace. 

It had been published in some newspapers that the A. O. H. had neglected to 
mention the names of the French-Canadian priests who had devoted themselves so 
courageously to the relief of the Irish people, but it was not so ; the Irish people 
had not forgotten their benefactors, and in their hearts the sense of gratitude and 
recognition was more durably imprinted than on shaft of marble or tablet of 
bronze. In the connection, he paid a high tribute to the Catholic and Protestant 
clergy, who had labored among the fever victims and whose names, he said, would 
ever receive all honor, further stating that he would like to add to those already 
mentioned the names of the brave Sisters of Charity in Montreal, many of whom 
had sacrificed their lives in attending upon the stricken immigrants. 

Speaking of the presence of the Papal Delegate and the Lieutenant-Governor, 
Sir Charles said that it was a mark of recognition on their part which would not 
be soon forgotten. 

In concluding, he remarked that it was the duty of all Irishmen to remain 
true to that faith which had taught the unfortunate to die and strengthened the 
survivors to live ; that faith which shone as bright to-day from the Vatican hill as 

Page N inety- Five * 



THE GROSSE-ISLE TRAGEDY 

it had shone from the hill of Golgotha. Ireland had not been persecuted in vain, 
and had not been decimated for no purpose, for in the wake of her sufferings the 
cross rose with renewed brilliancy and was carried into distant lands. 



Mr. Jos. Turcotte, K.C., and M.P. for Quebec County, then took up the 
speaking, and was roundly applauded as he began to address the audience in the 
French language. He spoke as follows : 

II fallait qu'une voix canadienne-francaise se fit entendre dans cette fete de la 
Religion et du Souvenir, pour rappeler la part de sympathie que nos compatriotes 
ont prise dans la de*tresse ou se trouvaient nos freres d'lrlande lors de leur lamen- 
table exode de 1847. 

II fallait tin cceur de Canadien-francais pour vibrer a 1'unisson des milliers 
de coeurs irlandais qui battent dans vos poitrines, et rendre un hommage emu aux 
victimes de cette sombre epoque. 

Laissez-moi vous dire que le spectacle d'aujourd'hui revt un caractere de 
grandeur bien propre a nous rendre fiers de vivre ensemble sur cette libre terre 
du Canada. 

Dans nos traditions nationales, il est d'usage que 1'Eglise et 1'Etat s'unissent 
pour rendre hommage a nos morts illustres. Aujourd'hui, apres soixante annees 
de repos et d' abandon sur ce coin de terre presqu' ignore", les fils de 1'Irlande re- 
coivent le plus magnifique temoignage de veneration de la part de tous les corps 
publics du pays et de la part du Chef de 1'Eglise catholique, le pape Pie X, 
glorieusement re*gnant. La pr6sidence du v6nere* Delegue Apostolique de Sa 
Saintete est une preuve de la majeste de la d6monst ration a laquelle nous sommes 
convies. Ses nobles paroles et celles de Monseigneur l'Archevque de Quebec 
resteront dans Thistoire a 1'honneur et a la gloire de la nation irlandaise. 

L,e Roi lui-meme, dans la personnedu Lieu tenant- Gouverneur de la Province 
de Quebec, est ici represente officiellement, afin querien ne manque a la solennite. 

Le gouvernement federal, lamagistrature, le gouvernement de la province de 
Quebec, tout ce qu'il y a de grandeur dans notre organisation sociale et politique, 
tout est reuni sur ce rocher desormais historique pour rendre un hommage public 
a ceux qui tomberent ici pour avoir trop aime" leur patrie, leur liberte et leur foi. 

En face de cette sublime nature qui nous environne, de ce fleuve immense, 
de cette verdoyante chaine de montagnes qui bornent 1' horizon, de ce soleil qui 
eclaire le plus libre pays du monde, il me semble que le temps est venu de dire 
toute notre pense"e. Quand, il y a soixante ans passes, la malheureuse population 
de 1'Irlande fuyait le sol natal ou elle ne pouvait plus vivre, beaucoup de gens se 
sont ecries : " 1,'Irlande se meurt ! L/Irlande est morte !" les uns avec de*ses- 
poir, les autres avec une joie satanique. 

Eh bien ! non. 1,'Irlande n'est pas morte ! L'Irlande ne pent pas mourir ! 
J 'en atteste cette Croix sacree qui domine le monument que les mains pieuses des 
offiriers et des membres du venerable Ancient Order of Hibernians ont fierement 
dresse sur cette terre bnie de la Grosse Isle ! Une race qui sait ainsi honorer ses 
morts est une race qui ne saurait perir. L'histoire est remplie de vos actions d'e- 
clat, de vos malheurs, et de vos triomphes, de vos renaissantes energies et de 
vos invincibles esperances. 

I/Irlande restera aux flancs de PAngleterre, non pas pour s'epuiser en luttes 
steriles, mais plut6t pour accomplir, selon les desseins d'une Providence aussi 
clemente que mysterieuse, la tache de ramener a 1' unite de TEglise catholique 
les millions d'ames que le malheur des temps en ont eloigne*es. 

Page Ninety-Six 





SIR GEORGE J. GARNEAU 
Mayor of Quebec 



SIR CHARLES FITZPATRICK 

Chief Justice Supreme Court of Canada 





HON. L. A. TASCHEREAU 
Minister of Public Works, Quebec 

(Nephew of the late Cardinal Taschereau). 



MR JOS. TURCOTTE, K.C., 
M P. for Quebec County. 

(One of the distinguished orators at cele- 
bration). 



THE 



GROS'SE-ISLE 



TRAGEDY 



Caeltc 



A short address in Gaelic by Major E. T. McCrystal, National Director, 
A.O.H., of the report of which we append a fac-simile or copy for the benefit of 
those who understand the ancient tongue, concluded the speeches : 



Sul bo 7it5A& AT) cui.b if Ti)0 
> -Dior Tt>o i)Ab<v ibflc 



bo CAI.UCA& 
D *A 



AT) 



bo cuir\e<x5 JJA'T) 

* |Ab. PusAb* jt>r 

i.Ab. 



- bo 1 i) 



t)tt5 

bo cojTt)CUb -dec 



i)*0ifi- 



5cob- 



i)AOti>c<k to bo ttcut)Ab" A^C i)f T^l^ I)'CA|IC AJI bjc ACA. 
, DltAAT)6 foil), reA r ctt5 tl^bCoirbO'Si>ocA Curtail)!) 

30 3-011]^^*^ T|Ab tUAf IdACC ITJOJl 

bfftt|l 
Utt. Se t10 ^^) c-^bbAfi 30 bpttilti)f 

llt.1)-ObA|Tl bCUT)CA A^AtT)!). C* A.I) ICACC f CO tl)ATV COrf)AflCA Aft Cfl^Ofb, 
^l)f AT) Att) CCUbT)A,TT)A|l Jl^AT) bttAT)-CU]rf)T)C AjV't)AbAO]l)e ACA f\1)l)Ce Al)fO 
, A Ti)UlT)C1TM! Wf I)-lAb TO *)* bAO^e ATT)ATO bO 

- H|T)-eAb. 0, bub b*o?tCA bo bj IJA l)lfAt5A4}qA occ 5ceub-bcu5, 
occ A5iif b^qb! O'cttj C* hiojtje boccA 't)A it)|lr*b 
fAb SAT) cotf)fiA, SAiH^tWttj^b'. ()|.AT) f CAbfiAf, 

fjve. 



30 



PA 



IT) JAC ttjflc 



AT) 

A 5-0071- 
CUTT) 



C1t)T)CC 

'.bjiuib ? 

COTT) CJT)T)CC Af 



if bocAf lint)!)! 

A11). C^ Cfft A 

?vcc 



AT)I)fO. 

Af 



c(rb 

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.AI) Ifc-U 



bO ]tlT)T)C AT) 
AJl At) I* 



cu 



ror> 



Page Ninety-Seven 



THE GROSSE-ISLE TRAGEDY 

JOtoteg on tfje Celebration 

An interesting incident, to which touching reference was made by some of the 
speakers, was the presence of Madame Roberge, an aged lady, with her two 
daughters. Mdme. Roberge was originally Mary Cox, one of the Grosse Isle 
orphans whose parents perished at Grosse Isle, and who came to the unveiling of 
the monument as an aged lady unable, either her or her children, to speak a word 
of English, having been adopted and brought up by a French-Canadian family. 

A number of handsome floral wreaths were placed on the monument during 
the course of the ceremony, including one from the A.O.H., one from the Provin- 
cial Government, presented by Hon. John C. Kaine and Hon. C. R. Devlin, one 
from the St. Jean Baptiste Society of Quebec, one from the St. Jean Baptiste 
Society of Montreal, as already mentioned, one from the Brownlee family of Van- 
couver, and a crown of lillies from Mrs. Lemieux, of Quebec, a lady of Irish des- 
cent. 

In connection with these floral tributes, the following letter from Mr. C. F. 
Delage, Assistant President of the St. Jean Baptiste Society of Quebec, and 
Deputy Speaker of the Quebec Legislature, addressed to the Secretary of the 
Quebec Division No. i, A.O.H., speaks for itself : 

QUEBEC, i4th August, 1909. 
"My DEAR SIR, 

"I regret that a religious demonstration at which I had promised to assist, 
but the date of which had not been then fixed the laying of the corner stone of 
the church of St. Ambroise de la Jeune Lorette which will take place to-morrow, 
will deprive me of the pleasure of being present at the unveiling of the monument 
erected to the memory of your fellow-countrymen, who fell victims to the typhus 
fever in 1847. 

"It would have been very gratifying to me to have been able, by my presence, 
to attest my admiration and my sympathies. 

"Allow me, however, in the name of the St. Jean Baptiste Society of Quebec, 
of which I am one of the General Officers and which represents the French-Cana- 
dians of this city, to offer you this modest floral tribute. 

"Please accept this offering as an unequivocal proof of the sentiments which 
animate them towards your nationality, whose joys, whose sorrows and whose 
hopes are never of indifference to them. 

"With the assurance of my entire devotedness, 

I remain, 

Yours very respectfully, 

CYRILLE F. DELAGE, 
Assistant President, St. Jean Baptiste Society, Quebec." 

Accompanying this letter was the floral tribute referred to, consisting of a 
magnificent and costly crown of natural flowers, decorated with the tri-color rib- 
bons of the St. Jean Baptiste Society the presentation being made by one of the 
Society's officers, Mr. Theo. Beland, the Quebec Agent of the Marine and Fish- 
eries Department, who accompanied the excursionists to Grosse Isle. 

The proceedings at the monument closed with the singing of "God Save 
Ireland," led by Mr. Lawrence Fitzhenry and accompanied by the band, the Hiber- 

Page Ninety-Eight 



THE GROSSE -ISLE TRAGEDY 

man Knights and Cadets again acting as a guard of honor around the memorial. 

Returning to Quebec, in the early evening, the beauty and solemnity of the 
sunset on the river lent t e final touch of grandeur to a memorable celebration, 
with the pathos and impressiveness of which all present were deeply imbued and 
which from beginning to end was carried out in a manner to reflect the utmost 
credit upon the Ancient Order of Hibernians and the hard-working local commit- 
tee which had the work of arrangement in hand. 

The account of so great a religious and national demonstration cannot be 
better concluded than by quoting the following appropriate editorial comments of 
the Montreal Star on the subject : 

"The gathering of men largely of the Irish race and Catholic faith from the 
United States and Canada, to enshrine the memory of the Irish emigrants who 
died at Grosse Isle from ship fever while fleeing famine at home to give their 
children a better chance in the New World, was one of the most remarkable spec- 
tacles which this material age has presented to the daily historian in many a year. 
The victims, whose death was thus commemorated, were not drawn from the ranks 
of the renowned and the wealthy. They were not discoverers, soldiers, or even 
pioneers. The large and representative company which assembled yesterday at 
Grosse Isle did not journey down the St. Lawrence to honor the first exploration 
of the river or the founding of a city or nation. They went to mourn beside the 
graves of a humble people, who only desired permission to live and who were 
denied this poor boon on two continents. 

"The world thinks better of a people who can thus keep green the memory 
of their dead. It reminds us that all of life is not tinsel and gold, tinkling cymbal 
and sounding brass. We are not forever thinking of success. We can spare 
time to kneel by the grave of plucky and high-hearted failure and to raise upon its 
sorrowful mound an enduring memorial. The addresses which were delivered at 
Grosse Isle have an inspiring note. The presence of many French-Canadians and 
their pastors and leaders reminds us of how great a part the men and women of 
that nationality played in succoring the sick and the orphaned of that deep tra- 
gedy. The Celtic cross which has been reared on the sacred spot will recall to 
every passer-by the whole sad story, and bear in upon his consciousness the fact 
that Irish men and women of this generation have not forgotten." 




Page Ninety-Nine 




SIR WILFRID LAURIER 
Premier of the Dominion of Canada 



enbt x 



<cean plague 

M a now very rare old book, published at Boston in 1848 and bearing the 
title of "The Ocean Plague or a Voyage to Quebec in an Irish Emigrant 
Vessel, embracing a Quarantine at Grosse Isle in 1847, with notes illustra- 
tive of the Ship Pestilence of that fatal year, by a Cabin Passenger," we make the 
following extracts, which are all the more interesting and valuable in that they 
emanate from one who was an actual eye-witness of the tragic scenes described 
and who, though anonymous, was evidently an Irish Protestant gentleman of edu- 
cation and position, as well as a man of humane feeling and impartial observation : 



Emigration has for a long time been considered by British economists the 
most effective means of alleviating the grievous ills under which the Irish peasant- 
ry labor. It is not our province to inquire into its expediency; but viewing the 
subject with the single eye of common-sense, it is difficult to see the necessity ot 
expatriating the superfluous population of a country wherein hundreds of thou- 
sands of acres of land; susceptible of the highest culture, lie waste, whose mines 
teeming with wealth remain unworked, and which is bordered by more than 
two thousand miles of sea coast, whose banks swarm with ling, cod, mackerel, 
&c., while salt-fish is largely imported from Scotland. 

Many years previous to legislators taking up the matter, emigration from Ire- 
land existed, and that of a class of persons which could be badly spared from the 
already impoverished island ; consisting as it did of small but substantial farmers, 
who, perceiving but a gloomy prospect before them, sold off their land, and, turn- 
ing their capital into cash, availed themselves of the opportunities that existed to 
find comfort and independence by settling in America. 

The majority of these adventurers being successful in their undertakings, 
they induced their relatives and friends to follow them ; and thus a strong tide of 
emigrants, whose number gradually increased each season, set toward the West. 

This progressive and natural system of emigration, however, gave place 
within the last few years to a violent rush of famished, reckless human beings, 
flying from their native land, to seek food in a distant and unknown country. 

The cause of this sudden change is easily ascertained. Every one is familiar 
with the wretched lot of the Irish peasantry, obliged to work for a miserable pit- 
tance, their chief reliance was upon the crop of potatoes grown by each family in 
the little patch of ground attached to their hut; a poor dependence, indeed, not 
only as regards the inferiority of the potato as the sole diet of a people, but from 
the great uncertainty always attending its propagation. The consequence of even 
a partial failure an event of common occurrence being of the most serious 
nature. 

In the year 1822, the deficiency was so general that the price quadrupled, and 
the peasantry of the south and west were reduced to actual starvation. To alle- 
viate the distress a committee was formed in London, and sub-committees 
throughout England; and such was the benevolence of individuals, that large 
funds were in a short time at their disposal. By the end of the year subscriptions 
had been raised in Great Britain amounting to ^350,000; to which Parliament 
added a grant of ^300,000, while the local collections in Ireland were ^"150,000; 

Page One Hundred and One 



THE GROSSE-ISLE TRAGEDY 

making altogether Soo,ooo, a large sum, but how inadequate to meet the 
wants of some three or four millions of starving people? 

This serious warning it should be supposed would have opened the eyes of 
the country to the necessity of having something else as a resource under a similar 
emergency ; but a plentiful season lulled them into forgetfulness of what they had 
suffered, and apathy concerning the future. 

So abundant was the produce of the seasons of 1842 and 1843, that the poor- 
est beggar refused potatoes, and these were commonly used to manure the land. 

But the blight of the crop of 1845, and the total destruction of that of 1846, 
brought the country to the lowest ebb, and famine with its attendant, disease, 
talked through the land. 

Charity stretched forth her hand from far and near, America giving liberally 
of her abundance. But all that could be done fell far short of the wants of the 
dying sufferers. The Government stepped forward, and advanced funds for the 
establishment of public works ; this was attended with much advantage and miti- 
gated a great deal of distress; but unfortunately all the money had to be re- 
turned in the shape of onerous taxation upon the landowners. 

The gentry became seriously alarmed, and some of them perceiving that the 
evil was likely to increase year after year, took into their consideration what 
would be the surest method of terminating it. 

At length it was discovered that the best plan would be to get completely rid 
of those who were so heavy a burthen upon them, by shipping them to America; 
at the same time publishing to the world, as an act of brotherly love and kindness, 
a deed of crafty, calculating selfishness, for the expense of transporting each indi- 
vidual was less than the cost of one year's support in a workhouse. 

\t required but little argument to induce the prostrated people to accede to 
their landlords' proposal, by quitting their poverty-stricken country for "a land 
flowing with milk and honey," poor creatures, they thought that any change 
would be for the better. They had nothing to risk, everything to gain. "Ah! 
Sir," said a fellow-passenger to me, after bewailing the folly that tempted him to 
plunge his family into aggravated misfortune, "we thought we couldn't be worse 
off than we war; but now to our sorrow we know the differ; for sure supposin 
we were dyin of starvation, or if the sickness overtuk us, we had a chance of 
a doctor, and if he could do no good for our bodies, sure the priest could for our 
souls ; and then we'd be buried along wid our own people, in the ould church-yard, 
with the green sod over us ; instead of dying like rotten sheep thrown into a pit, 
or the minit the breath is out of our bodies, flung into the sea to be eaten up 
by them horrid sharks." 

It cannot excite the least surprise that these wretched beings should carry 
with them the seeds of that plague from which they were flying; and it was but 
natural that these seeds should rapidly germinate in the hot-bed holds of ships 
crammed almost to suffocation with their distempered bodies. In short, nothing 
was wanted to encourage the speedy development of the direst disease and misery , 
but, alas! everything that could check their spread wis absent. 

My heart sickens when I think upon the fatal scenes of the awfully tragic 
drama enacted upon the wide stage of the Atlantic ocean, in the floating lazar 
houses that were wafted upon its bosom during the never-to-be-forgotten year 
1847. 

Without a precedent in history, may God grant that the account of it may 
descend to posterity without a parallel! 

Laws for the regulation of passenger ships were in existence ; but whether on 

Page One Hundred and Two 



THE GROSSE-ISLE TRAGEDY 

account of difficulty arising from the vast augmentation of number, or some other 
cause, they (if at all put in force) proved quite ineffectual. 

What a different picture was presented by the Germans who migrated in 
large bodies, who, although the transmission of human beings from Fatherland 
must always be attended by more or less pain and trouble, underwent none of 
those heart-rending trials reserved exclusively for the Irish emigrant. 

Never did so many souls tempt all the dangers of the deep, to seek asylums 
in an adopted country; and, could we draw a veil over the sad story of the ship 
pestilence, "this migration of masses, numbering of late years more than 100,000 
annually, now nearly 300,000 annually, not in the warlike spirit of the Goths 
and Vandals who overran the Roman Empire, and destroyed the monuments of 
art and evidences of civilization, but in the spirit of peace, anxious to provide for 
themselves and their children the necessaries of life, and apparently ordained by 
Providence to relieve the countries of the old world, and to serve great purposes 
of good to mankind, is one of the most interesting spectacles the world ever 
saw." 

The reader must not expect to find anything more in these pages than a faith- 
ful detail of the occurrences on board an emigrant vessel. The author has no 
desire to exaggerate, were it possible to do so. And he who wishes to arrive at 
any conclusion as to the amount of suffering, must calculate, from the affliction 
that I have faintly portrayed upon a small scale, what must have been the unutter- 
able "weight of woe" in ships whose holds contained five or six hundred tainted, 
famished, dying mortals. 

The following extract from the London Times newspaper presents a faithful 
and graphic review of the dire tragedy : 

"The great Irish famine and pestilence will have a place in that melancholy 
series of similar calamities to which historians and poets have contributed so many 
harrowing details and touching expressions. Did Ireland possess a writer im- 
bued with the laborious truth of Thucydides, the graceful felicity of Virgi^ or the 
happy invention of De Foe, the events of this miserable year might be quoted by 
the scholar for ages to come, together with the sufferings of the pent-up multi- 
tudes of Athens, the distempered plains of northern Italy, or the hideous ravages 
of our own great plague. But time is ever improving on the past. There is one 
horrible feature of the recent, not to say present, visitation, which is entirely new. 
The fact of more than a hundred thousand souls flying from the very midst of a 
calamity across a great ocean to a new world, crowding into insufficient vessels, 
scrambling for a footing on a deck, or a berth in a hold, committing themselves to 
these worse than prisons, while their frames were wasted with ill fare and their 
blood infected with disease, fighting, for months of unutterable wretchedness 
against the elements without and pestilence within, giving almost hourly victims 
to the deep, landing at length on shores already terrified and diseased, con- 
signed to encampments of the dying and the dead, spreading death wherever they 
roam, and having no other prospect before them than a long continuance of these 
horrors in a still farther flight across forests and lakes under a Canadian sun and 
a Canadian frost all these are circumstances beyond the experience of the Greek 
historian or Latin poet, and such as an Irish pestilence alone could produce. 

"By the end of the season there is little doubt that the emigration into Can- 
ada alone will have amounted to 100,000 ; nearly all from Ireland. We know the 
condition in which these poor creatures embarked on their perilous adventure. 
They were only flying from one form of death. On the authority of the Montreal 
Board of Health we are enabled to say that they were allowed to ship in numbers 

Page One Hundred and Three 



THE GROSSE-ISLE TRAGEDY 

two or three times greater than the same vessels would have presumed to carry 
to an United States port. 

"The worse horrors of that slave-trade which it is the boast or the ambition 
of this empire to suppress, at any cost, have been re-enacted in the sight of British 
subjects from their native shores. In only ten of the vessels that arrived at Mon- 
treal in July, four from Cork and six from Liverpool, out of 4,427 passengers, 804 
had died on the passage, and 847 were sick on their arrival ; that is, 847 were 
visibly diseased, for the result proves that a far larger number had in them the 
seeds of disease. The Larch, says the Board of Health, on August i2th, 'reported 
this morning from Sligo, sailed with 440 passengers, of whom 108 died on the 
passage, and 150 were sick. 

" 'The Virginius sailed with 596; 158 died on the passage, 186 were sick, and 
the remainder landed feeble and tottering; the captain, mates, and crew, were all 
sick.' 

"The Black-Hole of Calcutta was a mercy compared to the holds of these ves- 
sels. Yet simultaneously, as if in reproof of those on whom the blame of all this 
wretchedness must fall, foreigners, Germans from Hamburg and Bremen, are daily 
arriving, all healthy, robust, and cheerful. 

"This vast unmanageable tide of population thus thrown upon Montreal, like 
the fugitives from some bloody defeat, or devastated country, has been greatly 
augmented by the prudent, and, we must add, most necessary precautions adopted 
in time by the United States, where most stringent sanitary regulations, enforced 
by severe penalties, have been adopted to save the ports of the Union from those 
very horrors which a paternal government has suffered to fall upon Montreal. 
Many of these pest ships have been obliged to alter their destination, even while 
at sea, for the St. Lawrence. 

"At Montreal a large proportion of these outcasts have lingered from sheer 
inability to proceed. The inhabitants of course have been infected. 

"A still more horrible sequel is to come. The survivors have to wander forth 
and find homes. Who can say how many will perish on the way, or the masses 
of houseless, famished, and half-naked wretches that will be strewed on the inhos- 
pitable snow when a Canadian winter sets in? 

"Of these awful occurrences some account must be given. Historians and 
politicians will some day sift and weigh the conflicting narrations and documents 
of this lamentable year, and pronounce, with or without affectation, how much is 
due to the inclemency of heaven, and how much to the cruelty, heartlessness or 
improvidence of man. The boasted institutions and spirit of the empire are on 
trial. They are weighed in the balance. 

"Famine and pestilence are at the gates, and the conscience-stricken nation 
will almost fear to see the 'writing on the wall.' 

"We are forced to confess that, whether it be the fault of our laws or our 
men, this new act in the terrible drama has not been met as humanity and com- 
mon-sense would enjoin. The result was quite within the scope of calculation, 
and even of care." 

Miscalculation, and want of care, are terms far too mild to apply to such 
wanton negligence as resulted in the immediate sacrifice of upwards of 25,000 
souls, four-fifths of whom fell upon their way to Canada. From the report issued 
at the end of the season, it appears that, of the 98,105 (of whom 60,000 were 
Irish) that were shipped for Quebec, 
Page One Hundred and Four 



THE GROSSE-ISLE TRAGEDY 

There died at sea 5*293 

At Grosse Isle and Quebec. 8,072 

In and above Montreal 7,000 

Making 20,365, 

besides those who afterwards perished, whose number can never be ascertained. 
Allowing an average of 300 persons to each, 200 vessels were employed in the 
transmission to Canada of Irish emigrants alone ; and each of these vessels lost 
one-third of her living cargo ere she again set sail upon her return to Europe. 

If. we suppose those 60,000 persons to be an army on their way to invade 
some hostile power, how serious would appear the loss of one-third of their num- 
ber before a battle was fought? Yet the 40,000 who landed upon the Canadian 
shores had to fight many a deadly battle before they could find peace or rest. 
Or, in order to make the matter sensible to those who know the value of money 
better than of human life, let us multiply 20,000 by 5, the cost in pounds sterling 
of the passage of each individual, and we perceive a loss of ^"100,000, or $500,000. 

But it may be thought the immolation of so many wretched starvelings was 
rather a benefit than a loss to the world. It may be so. Yet untutored, degrad- 
ed, famished, and plague-stricken, as they were; I assert that there was more 
true heroism, more faith, more forgiveness of their enemies, and submission to 
the Divine Will, exemplified in these victims, than could be found in ten times 
the number of their oppressors. 

Saturday, June i2th. 

The two women who first became ill on our brig were said to show symptoms 
of bad fever ; and additional cases of illness were reported. The patients begged 
for an increased allowance of water ; which could not be granted, as the supply 
was very scanty, two casks having leaked. 

Sunday, June ijth. 

The reports from the hold became very alarming ; and the mistress was occu- 
pied all day attending the numerous calls upon her. She already regretted having 
come the voyage ; but her kind heart did not allow her to consult her ease. When 
she appeared upon deck, she was beset by a crowd of poor creatures, each having 
some request to make; often of a most inconsiderate kind, and few of which it 
was in her power to comply with. The day was cold and cheerless ; and I occu- 
pied myself reading in the cabin. 

Monday, June i^th. 

The Head committee brought a can of water to show it to the captain : it was 
quite foul, muddy, and bitter from having been in a wine cask. When allowed to 
settle it became clear, leaving considerable sediment in the bottom of the vessel ; 
but it retained its bad taste. The mate endeavoured to improve it by trying the 
effect of charcoal, and of alum ; but some of the casks were beyond remedy, and 
the contents, when pumped out, resembled nauseous ditch water. There were 
now eight cases of serious illness ; six of them being fever and two dysentery ; 
the former appeared to be of a peculiar character, and very alarming : the latter 
disease did not seem to be so violent in degree. 

Tuesday, June ijth. 

The reports this morning were very afflicting, and I felt much, that I was 
unable to render any assistance to my poor fellow-passengers. The captain de- 
sired the mistress to give them everything out of his own stores that she consid 

age One Hundred and F iv e 



THE GROSSE-ISLE TRAGEDY 

ered would be of service to any of them. He felt much alarmed ; nor was it to be 
wondered at that contagious fever, which under the most advantageous circum- 
stances, and under the watchful eyes of the most skilful physicians, baffles the 
highest ability, should terrify one having the charge of so many human beings, 
likely to fall a prey to the unchecked progress of the dreadful disease; for once 
having- shown itself in the unventilated hold of a small brig, containing one hun- 
dred and ten living creatures, how could it possibly be stayed, without suitable 
medicines, medical skill, or even pure water to slake the patient's burning thirst? 

The prospect before us was indeed an awful one ; and there was no hope for 
us but in the mercy of God. 

Wednesday June i6th. 

The past night was very rough, and I enjoyed little rest. No additional cases 
of sickness were reported : but there were apparent signs of insubordination 
amongst the healthy men, who complained of starvation, and the want of water to 
make drinks for their sick wives and children. A deputation came aft to acquaint 
the captain with their grievances, but he ordered them away, and would not listen 
to a word from them. When he went below, the ringleader threatened that they 
would break into the provision store. 

The^mate did not take any notice of the threat, but repeated to me, in their 
hearing, an anecdote of his own experience when a captain ; showing with what 
determination he suppressed an outbreak in his vessel. He concluded by alluding 
to cutlasses, and the firearms in the cabin. And in order to make a deeper im- 
pression on their minds, he brought up the old blunderbuss, from which he fired a 
shot, the report of which was equal to that of a small cannon. The deputation 
slunk away, muttering complaints. 

Thursday, June ijth. 

Two new cases of fever were announced, and from the representation of the 
mate, the poor creatures in the hold were in a shocking state. Our progress 
was almost imperceptible, and the captain began to grow very uneasy, there being, 
at the rate of the already miserable allowance of food, but provisions for fifty 
days. It also now became necessary to reduce the complement of water, and to 
urge the necessity of using sea water in cookery. 

June igth. 

A shark followed us all the day, and the mate said it was a certain forerunner 
of death. The cabin was like an apothecary's shop, and the mistress a perfect 
slave. I endeavoured to render her every assistance in my power. The mate also 
was indefatigable in his exertions to alleviate the miserable lot of our helpless 
human cargo. 

Tuesday, June 22nd 

One of the sailors was unable for duty, and the mate feared he had the fever. 
The reports from the hold were growing even more alarming, and some of the 
patients who were mending, had relapsed. One of the women was every moment 
expected to breathe her last, and her friends, an aunt and cousins, were incon- 
solable about her ; as they persuaded her to leave her father and mother, and come 
with them. The mate said that her feet were swollen to double their natural size, 
and covered with black putrid spots. I spent a considerable part of the day 
watching a shark that followed in our wake with great constancy. 

Page One Hundred and Six 




SIR LOMER GOUIN 
Premier of the Province of Quebec 



THE GROS-S-.E-ISLE TRAGEDY 

Wednesday, June 2jrd. 

At breakfast I inquired of the mate after the young woman who was so ill 
yesterday, when he told me that she was dead ; and when I remarked that I feared 
her burial would cause great consternation, I learned that the sad ordeal was 
over, her remains having been consigned to the deep within an hour after she ex- 
pired. When I went on deck I heard the moans of her poor aunt, who continued 
to gaze upon the ocean as if she could mark the spot where the waters opened for 
their prey. The majority of the wretched passengers, who were not themselves 
ill, were absorbed in grief for their relatives. 

Friday, June 2$th. 

This morniag there was a further accession to the names upon the sick roll. 
It was awful how suddenly some were stricken. A little child who was playing 
with its co- ipanions, suddenly fell down, and for some time was sunk in a death- 
like torpor, from which, when she awoke, she commenced to scream violently, 
and writhed in convulsive agony. A poor woman who was warming a drink at 
the fire for her husband, also dropped down quite senseless, and was borne to her 
berth. 

I found it very difficult to acquire precise information respecting the progress- 
ive symptoms of the disease, the different parties of whom I inquired disagreeing 
in some particulars ; but I inferred that the first symptom was generally a reeling 
in the head, followed by a swelling pain, as if the head were going to burst. 
Next came excruciating pains in the bones, and then a swelling of the limbs, com- 
mencing with the feet, in some cases ascending the body, and again descending 
before it reached the head, stopping at the throat. The period of each stage 
varied in different patients ; some of whom were covered with yellow, watery pim- 
ples, and others with red and purple spots, that turned into putrid sores. 

Saturday, June 26th. 

Some of those who the other day appeared to bid defiance to the fever, were 
seized in its relentless grasp; and a few who were on the recovery, relapsed. It 
seemed miraculous to me that such subjects could struggle with so violent a dis- 
ease without any effective aid. 

Sunday, June 27th. 

The moaning and raving of the patients kept me awake nearly all the night; 
and I could hear the mistress stirring about until a late hour. It made my heart 
bleed to listen to the cries for "Water, for God's sake, some water." Oh! it was 
horrifying ; yet, strange to say, I had no fear of taking the fever, which, perhaps, 
under the merciful providence of the Almighty, was a preventive cause. The 
mate, who spent much of his time among the patients, described to me some re- 
volting scenes he witnessed in the hold; but they were too disgusting to be re- 
peated. He became very much frightened, and often looked quite bewildered. 

Monday, June 28th. 

The number of patients upon the list now amounted to thirty, and the efflu- 
vium of the hold was shocking. 

The passengers suffered much for want of pure water, and the mate tried the 
quality of all the casks. Fortunately he discovered a few which were better, a^d 
this circumstance was rather cheering. 

Page One Hundred and Seven 



THE GROSS E-ISLE TRAGEDY 



Wednesday, June 3oth. 

Passing the main hatch, I got a glimpse of one of the most awful sights I 
ever beheld. A poor female patient was lying in one of the upper berths dying. 
Her head and face were swollen to a most unnatural size ; the latter being hideous- 
ly deformed. I recollected remarking the clearness of her complexion when I saw 
her in health, shortly after we sailed. She then was a picture of good humor and 
contentment; now, how sadly altered! Her cheeks retained their ruddy hue, but 
the rest of her distorted countenance was of a leprous whiteness. She had been 
nearly three weeks ill, and suffered exceedingly until the swelling set in, com- 
mencing in her feet, and creeping up the body to her head. Her afflicted husband 
stood by her holding- a " blessed candle" in his hand, and awaiting the departure 
of her spirit. Death put a period to her existence shortly after I saw her. And as 
the sun was setting, the bereaved husband muttered a prayer over her enshrouded 
corpse, which, as he said "Amen," was lowered into the ocean. 

Thursday, July ist. 

The wind was still unfavorable, but we gained a little by constantly tacking, 
and were approaching the banks of Newfoundland. Some new cases were an- 
nounced, making thirty-seven now lying. A convalescent was assisted on deck, 
and seemed revived by the fresh air. He was a miserable object. His face being 
yellow and withered, was rendered ghastly by the black streak that encircled his 
sunken eyes. 

Tuesday, July 6th. 

Two men (brothers) died of dysentery, and I was awakened by the noise 
made by the mate, who was searching for an old sail to cover the remains with 
In about an hour after, they were consigned to the deep, a remaining brother 
being the solitary mourner. He continued long to gaze upon the ocean, while a 
tear that dropped from his moistened eye told the grief he did not otherwise 
express. I learned in the afternoon that he was suffering from the same com- 
plaint that carried off his brothers. 

Thursday, July 8th. 

Another of the crew was taken ill, thereby reducing our hands when they 
were most required. 

Friday, July gth. 

A few convalescents appeared upon deck. The appearance of the poor crea- 
tures was miserable in the extreme. We now had fifty sick, being nearly one- 
half the whole number of passengers. Some entire families being prostrated, 
were dependent on the charity of their neighbors, many of whom were very kind. 
The brother of the two men who died on the sixth instant, followed them to-day. 
He was seized with dismay from the time of their death, which, no doubt, hurried 
on the malady to its fatal termination. The old sails being all used up, his re- 
mains were placed in two meal-sacks, and a weight being fastened at the foot, the 
body was placed upon one of the hatch battens, from which, when raised over the 
bulwark, it fell into the deep, and was no more seen. He left two little orphans, 
one of whom, a boy seven years of age, I noticed in the evening, wearing his de- 
ceased father's coat. Poor little fellow! he seemed quite unconscious of his loss, 
and proud of the accession to his scanty covering. 
_ . Page One Hundred and Eight 



THE GROSS >E -ISLE TRAGEDY 



Wednesday, July 

The reports of the suffering's in the hold were heartrending. Simon and Jack 
were both taken ill. 

Thursday, July i$th. 

There was a birth on board this morning, and two or three deaths were mo- 
mentarily expected. The mate's account of the state of the hold was harrowing-. 
It required the greatest coercion to enforce anything like cleanliness or decency. 

Monday, July igth. 

Another death and burial. A few who had been ill, a^ain appeared on deck, 
weak, and weary. The want of pure water was sensibly felt by the afflicted 
creatures, and we were yet a longf way from where the river loses its saltness. 
In the morning there came alongside of us a beautiful little schooner, from which 
we took a pilot on board. When he found that we had emigrants, and so much 
sickness, he seemed to be frightened and disappeared ; as he had avoided a large 
ship, thinking we had not passengers. However, he could not nor dare he re- 
treat. The first thing he did was to open his huge trunk, and take from it a 
pamphlet, which proved to be the quarantine regulations; he handed it to the 
captain, who spent a long time poring over it. When he had read it I got a 
look at it one side was printed in French, the other in English. The rules were 
very stringent, and the penalties for their infringement exceedingly severe ; the 
sole control being vested in the head physician, the power given to whom was 
most arbitrary. We feared that we should undergo a long detention in quaran- 
tine, and learned that we could hold no communication whatever with the shore 
until our arrival at Grosse Isle. 

Thursday, July 22nd. 

A child, one of the orphans, died and was buried in the evening, no friend 
being by to see the frail body committed to its watery grave. The water could 
not be used by the wretched emigrants, and but half a cask of that provided for 
the cabin and crew remained ; they were, therefore, obliged to use the saline water 
of the river. 

Friday, July 23rd. 

We remained at anchor all day, a fresh breeze blowing down the river. 
Some of the recovered patients who were slowly regaining strength, had relapsed 
into the most violent stages, and three new cases were announced, showing exceed- 
ingly virulent symptoms. 

Grosse Isle, July 28th. 

By 6 a.m. we were settled in our new position before the quarantine station. 
The passengers that were able to be up were all busy, cleaning and washing, some 
clearing the hold of filth, others assisting the sailors in swabbing the deck. 

At 9 o'clock a boat was perceived pulling towards us, with four oars and a 
rteersman with a broad leafed straw hat and leather coat, who the pilot told us 
was the inspecting physician. In a few minutes the boat was alongside, and the 
doctor r>n deck. He hastily enquired for the captain, and before he could be 
answered was down in the cabin where the mistress was finishing her toilet. 
Having introduced himself, he enquired if we had sickness aboard? Its nature? 
How many daaths? How many patients at present? These questions being 
answered, and the replies noted upon his tablet, he snatched up his hat, ran up 
the ladder, along the deck, and down into the hold. Arrived there, "ha!" 

Page One Hundred and Nine 



THE GROSSE-ISLE TRAGEDY 

said he, sagaciously, "there is fever here." He stopped beside the first berth 
in which a patient was lying, felt his pulse, examined his tongue, and ran 
up the ladder again. 

All day long we kept looking out for a message from shore, and in watching 
the doctor's boat, going from vessel to vessel; his visit to each occupying about 
the same time as to us, which was exactly five minutes, but the boat the next 
moment would be concealed by some large ship ; then we were sure we would be 
the next ; but no, the rowers pulled for shore. The day wore away before we gave 
up hope. 

I could not believe it possible, that here within reach of help we should be 
left as neglected as when upon the ocean ; that after a voyage of two months' 
duration, we were to be left still enveloped by reeking pestilence, the sick without 
medicine, medical skill, nourishment, or so much as a drop of pure water ; for the 
river, although not saline water, was polluted by the most disgusting objects, 
thrown overboard from the several vessels. In short, it was a floating mass of 
filthy straw, the refuse of foul beds, barrels containing the vilest matter, old rags, 
and tattered clothes, &c., &c. 

Thursday, July 2gth. 

This morning a boat was perceived making towards us, which at first was 
thought to be the doctor's ; but when it approached near there appeared but two 
persons in it, both of whom were rowing. In a few minutes more the boat was 
alongside, and from the cassocks and bands of the two gentlemen we learned that 
they were Canadian priests. They came on deck, each carrying a large black 
bag. They inquired for the captain, who received them courteously, and intro- 
duced them to the mistress and to me, after which they conversed awhile in French 
with the pilot, whom they knew ; when, having put on their vestments, they des- 
cended into the hold. They there spent a few minutes with each of the sick, and 
administered the last rites to the dying woman and an old man, terminating their 
duties by baptizing the infant. They remained in the hold for about an hour, 
and when they returned complimented the captain on the cleanliness of the vessel. 
They stayed a short time talking to us upon deck, and the account they gave of the 
horrid condition of many of the ships in quarantine was frightful. In the holds 
of some of them they said, that they were up to their ankles in filth. The wretched 
emigrants crowded together like cattle, and corpses remaining long unburied, 
the sailors being ill, and the passengers unwilling to touch them. They also 
told us of the vast numbers of sick in the hospitals, and in tents, upon the island, 
and that many nuns, clergymen and doctors, were lying in typhus fever, taken 
from the patients. They were exceedingly intelligent and gentlemanly men, and 
telling us that we had great cause of thankfulness in having escaped much better 
than so many others, they politely bowed, and got into their little boat, amid the 
blessings of the passengers, who watched them until they arrived beside a distant 
ship. 

We lay at some distance from the island, the distant view of which was ex- 
ceedingly beautiful. At the far end were rows of white tents and marquees, resemb- 
ling the encampment of an army; somewhat nearer was the little fort, and resi- 
dence of the superintendent physician, and nearer still the chapel, seamen's hos- 
pital, and little village, with its wharf and a few sail boats; the most adjacent 
extremity being rugged rocks, among which grew beautiful fir trees. At high 
water this portion was detached from the main island, and formed a most pic- 
turesque islet. But this scene of natural beauty was sadly deformed by the dis- 

Page One Hundred and Ten 



THE GROSS E -ISLE TRAGEDY 

mal display of human suffering that it presented; helpless creatures being car- 
ried by sailors over the rocks,on their way to the hospital, boats arriving with 
patients, some of whom died in their transmission from their ships. Another 
and still more awful sight, was a continuous line of boats, each carrying its 
freight of dead to the burial-ground, and forming an endless funeral procession. 
Some had several corpses, so tied up in canvas that the stiff, sharp outline of 
death was easily traceable; others had rude coffins, constructed by the sailors, 
from the boards of their berths, or, I should rather say, cribs. In a few, a solitary 
mourner attended the remains ; but the majority contained no living beings save 
the rowers. I could not remove my eyes until boat after boat was hid by the 
projecting point of the island, round which they steered their gloomy way. From 
one ship, a boat proceeded four times during the day; each time laden with a 
cargo of dead. I ventured to count the number of boats that passed, but had to 
give up the sickening task. 

The inspecting doctor went about from vessel to vessel, six of which came 
in with each tide, and as many sailed. 

We expected him to visit us every moment ; but he did not come near us. 

Friday, July joth. 

This morning, when I came on deck, a sailor was busily employed construct- 
ing a coffin for the remains of the Head committee's wife; and it was afflicting 
to hear the husband's groans and sobs accompanying each sound of the saw and 
hammer, while with his motherless infant in his arms he looked on. About an 
hour after, the boat was lowered, and the bereaved husband, with four rowers, 
proceeded to the burial pround to inter the corpse; and they were followed by 
many a tearful eye, until the boat disappeared behind the rocky point. 

At TO a.m. we descried the doctor making for us, his boatmen pulling lustily 
through the heavy sea ; a few minutes brought him alongside and on board, when 
he ran down to the cabin and demanded if the papers were filled up with a return 
of the number of deaths at sea? how many cases of sickness? &c. He was handed 
them by the captain ; when he enquired, how many patients we then had ; he was 
told there were twelve ; when he wrote an order to admit six, to hospital ; saying 
that the rest should be admitted when there was room; there being 2,500 at that 
time upon the island, and hundreds lying in the various vessels before it. The 
order written, he returned to his boat, and then boarded a ship lying close to us, 
which lowered her signal when he approached. Several other vessels that arrived 
in the morning, had their ensigns flying at the peak, until each was visited in turn, 

Immediately after the doctor left us, the captain gave orders to have the 
patients in readiness. Shortly after, our second boat was launched, and four of 
the passengers volunteered to row ; the sailors that were able to work, being with 
the other. O God! may I never again witness such a scene as that which followed 
the husband, the only support of an emaciated wife and helpless family, torn 
away forcibly from them, in a strange land; the mother dragged from her orphan 
children, that clung to her until she was lifted over the bulwarks, rending the air 
with their shrieks ; children snatched from their bereaved parents, who were, per- 
haps, ever to remain ignorant of their recovery, or death. The screams pierced 
my brain ; and the excessive agony so rent my heart, that I was obliged to retire 
to the cabin, where the mistress sat weeping bitterly. 

The captain went in the boat, and returned in about an hour; giving us a 
frightful account of what he witnessed upon the island. 

Our boat returned, just at the same time ; the men having been away all the 

Page One Hundred and Eleven 



THE GROSSE-1SLE TRAGEDY 

day. It appeared that they could not find the burial ground, and consequently 
dug a grave upon an island, when as they were depositing the remains they were 
discovered, and obliged to decamp. They were returning to the brig, when they 
perceived several boats proceeding in another dirction, and having joined them, 
were conducted to the right place. The wretched husband was a very picture of 
desperation and misery, that increased the ugliness of his countenance ; for he 
was sadly disfigured by the marks of smallpox, and was blind of an eye. He 
walked moodily along the deck, snatched his child from a woman's arms, and went 
down into the hold without speaking a word. Shortly after, one of the sailors 
who was with the boat told me, that after the grave was filled up, he took the 
shovels and placing them crosswise upon it, calling heaven to witness said, "By 
that cross, Mary, I swear to revenge your death ; as soon as I earn the price of 
my passage home, I'll go back, and shoot the man that murdered you, and that's 
the landlord." 

Sunday, August ist. 

The passengers passed a miserable night, huddled up, as they were without 
room to stretch their weary limbs. I pitied them from my soul, and it was sicken- 
ing to see them drink the filthy water. I could not refuse to give one or two of 
them a mouthful from the cask upon the quarter deck, which fortunately was filled 
lower down the river. They asked for it so pitifully, and were so thankful; but 
I could not satisfy all and regretted the disappointment of many. 

Thursday, $rd August. 

I was charmed with the splendid prospect I enjoyed this morning when I came 
on deck. 

The harbour of Quebec was thickly covered with vessels, many of them noble 
ships of the largest class. 

The city upon the side of Cape Diamond, with its tin-covered domes and spires 
sparkling in the morning sun, and surrounded by its walls and batteries bristling 
with cannon, was crowned by the impregnable citadel, while a line of villages 
spread along the northern shore, reaching to Beauport and Montmorenci. The 
lofty Mount St. Anne bounding the view upon the east. Opposite the city lay 
Point Levi, with the village of D'Aubigne; crossing the river were steam ferry- 
boats, horse-boats, and canoes; and up the stream, far as the eye could reach, 
the banks were lined by wharves, and timber ponds, while the breeze wafted along 
a fleet of batteaux, with great white sails; and numberless pilot boats were in 
constant motion. 

We could not go ashore, neither dare any one come on board, until we were 
discharged from quarantine by the Harbour Master, and Medical Inspector. 
These functionaries approached us in a long six-oared boat, with the Union Jack 
flying in her stern. When they came on board, they demanded the ship's papers, 
and clean bills of health, which the captain gave them; in return for which he 
received a release from quarantine. Soon after they left us, a butcher brought 
us fresh meat, milk, eggs and vegetables, to which we did ample justice at break- 
fast ; when I went with the captain on shore. 

I remained with the brig during her stay in Quebec harbour, and sailed in 
her for Montreal, on the evening of Thursday, 5th August. We were towed up 
the river by a steamboat ; and by daylight the following morning were passing the 
mouth of the river Batiscan. 

That the system of quarantine pursued at Grosse Isle afforded but a very 
slight protection to the people of Canada, is too evident from the awful amount 

Page One H undred and Twelve 




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THE GROSSE-ISLE TRAGEDY 

of sickness, and the vast number of deaths that occurred amongst them during 
the navigable season of 1847. From the plan that was adopted, of sending the 
majority of the emigrants from the island directly up to Montreal, Quebec did not 
suffer so much as that city. However, during the three days I was there, in the 
month of August, too many signs of death were visible; and upon a second and 
more prolonged visit, later in the season, it presented an aspect of universal 
gloom ; the churches being hung in mourning, the citizens clothed in weeds ; and 
the newspapers recording daily deaths by fever contracted from the emigrants. 
To their honor and praise be it spoken, these alarming consequences did not deter 
either clergymen or physicians from the most unremitting zeal in performing their 
duty, and it i 3 to be lamented that so many valuable lives were sacrificed. 

Although (as I have already stated) the great body of emigrants were sent 
on to Montreal by steamers, all of them could not be so transferred, and many 
were detained in Quebec, where the Marine and Emigrant Hospital contained 
during the season, several hundreds, the number that remained upon October 2nd. 
being 443, of whom 93 were admitted during the week previous, and in which 
time there were discharged 132, and 46 died. 

It now only remains for me to say a few words respecting the people that en- 
dured and reproduced so much tribulation. 

The vast number of persons who quitted Europe, to seek new homes in the 
western hemisphere, in the year 1847, is without a precedent in history. Of the 
aggregate I cannot definitely speak, but to be within the limits of truth, they ex- 
ceeded 350,000. 

More than one-half of these emigrants were from Ireland, and to this portion 
was confined the devouring pestilence. It is a painful task to trace the causes 
that led to such fatal consequences ; some of them may, perhaps, be hidden, but 
many are too plainly visible. These wretched people were flying from known 
misery, into unknown and tenfold aggravated misfortune. That famine which 
compelled so many to emigrate, became itself a cause of the pestilence. But 
that the principal causes were produced by injustice and neglect, is plainly proved. 
Many, as I have already stated, were sent out at the expense of their landlords ; 
these were consequently the poorest and most abject of the whole, and suffered the 
most. r No doubt the motives of some landlords were benevolent; but all they did 
was to pay for the emigrants' passage this done, these gentlemen washed their 
hands of all accountability, transferring them to the shipping agent, whose object 
was to stow away the greatest possible number betwen the decks of the vessels 
chartered for the purpose. That unwarrantable inducements were held out to 
many, I am aware, causing some to leave their homes, who would not otherwise 
have done so. They were given to understand that they would be abundantly 
provided for during the voyage, and that they were certain of finding immediate 
employment upon their arrival, at a dollar per day. 

After a detention often of many days, the vessel at length ready for sea ; 
numbers were shipped that were quite unfit for a long voyage. True, they were 
inspected, and so were the ships, but from the limited number of officers appointed 
for the purpose, many oversights occurred. In Liverpool, for instance, if I am 
rightly informed, there was a staff of but five or six men to inspect the mass of 
emigrants, and survey the ships, in which there sailed from that port 107,474. 
An additional heavy infliction was their sufferings on ship-board, from famine, the 
legal allowance for an adult being one pound of food in twenty-four hours ; but per- 
haps the most cruel wrong was in allowing crowds of already infected beings to 
be huddled up together in the confined holds, there to propagate the distemper, 

Page One Hundred and Thirteen 



THE GROSSE-ISLE TRAGEDY 

which there was no physician to stay. The sufferings consequent upon such 
treatment, I have endeavoured to portray in the previous narrative, which alas! 
is but a feeble picture of the unmitigated trials endured by these most unhappy 
beings. Nor were their sufferings ended with the voyage. Oh! no, far from it. 
Would that I could represent the afflictions I witnesed at Grosse Isle! I would 
not be supposed to think, that the medical officers situated there did not exercise 
the greatest humanity in administering their disagreeable duties, which consisted 
not in relieving the distress of the emigrants, but in protecting their country 
from contamination. Still it was most afflicting, that after combatting the dan- 
gers of the sea, enduring famine, drought, and sickness, the wretched survivors 
should still have to lie as uncared for as when in the centre of the Atlantic Ocean. 

The inefficacy of the quarantine system is so apparent, that it is needless to 
particularize its defects, neither need I repeat the details of the grievous aggrava- 
tions of their trials, heaped by it upon the already tortured emigrants. My heart 
bleeds when I think of the agony of the poor families who as yet undivided had 
patiently borne their trials, ministering to each other's wants when torn from 
each other. Painful as it was to behold the bodies of those who died at sea, com- 
mitted to the deep, yet the separation of families was fraught with much greater 
misery. And as if to reach the climax of endurance, the relatives and friends of 
those landed upon the island were at once carried away from them to a distance 
of 200 miles. On their way to Montreal, many died on board the steamers. 
There, those who sickened in their progress were received into the hospital, and 
the survivors of this second sifting were sent on to Kingston, 180 miles further; 
from thence to Toronto, and so on, every city and town being anxious to be rid 
of them. 

Monday Afternoon, August 9. 

" Since my last, the wind has been blowing fresh from the northeast, and 
several vessels have arrived in port, the names of which you will find enclosed. 
Four have just arrived, but are not yet boarded. I make out the names of three, 
v i z: Bark Covenanter, Bark Royal Adelaide, and Schooner Maria, of Limerick. 
The Zealous has not yet made her appearance. 

"The accounts from Grosse Isle since my last, are not of a favorable nature, 
and the number of deaths is much the same. The building of the new sheds there 
is advancing rapidly. 

"A letter was received this forenoon, from the mate of the bark Naparima, 
with passengers, from Dublin, dated off Bic, last Friday, announcing that the 
Captain, Thomas Brierly, died on the 3rd instant, and was buried on the same 
day. She was then fifty days out, and short of provisions, about 20 of the pas- 
sengers were sick, but were recovering when the mate wrote, and he intended to 
put into some convenient place for supplies. There was a pilot on board, and 
every exertion would be made to get her up to the Quarantine Station as soon as 
possible." Quebec Correspondence of the Montreal Herald. 

"We are in possession of the latest news from Grosse Isle. The hospital 
statement yesterday, the gth, was 2,240. There is a large fleet of vessels at the 
station, and amongst them some very sickly, as may be seen from the following 
statement : 
. Page One Hundred and Fourteen 



THE GROS -SB-ISLE TRAGEDY 



Brig Anna Maria, Limerick 


Passengers 

I IQ 


Deaths J 


Sick 
i 


Bark Amy Bremen ... . . 


280 






Brig Watchful, Hamburg 


tAe 






Ship Ganges, Liverpool 






80 


Bark Corea, Liverpool 


CO I 


18 




Bark Larch, Sligo 


44-O 


108 




Bark Naparima, Dublin 


, 226 


7 


17 


Bark Britannia, Greenock , 








Brig Trinity, Limerick 


86 


all well. - 





Bark Lilias, Dublin 


2IQ 




6 


Bark Brothers. Dublin , 


^18 


6 - 





"A full rigged ship just coming in not yet boarded. 

"The hospitals have never been so crowded, and the poor creatures in the 
tents (where the healthy are), are dying by dozens! Eleven died on the night of 
the 8th, and one on the road to the hospital yesterday morning. 

"Captain Read, of the Marchioness of Breadalbane, died in hospital on the 
7th. The Captain of the Virginius died the day after his arrival at Grosse Isle. 
"We regret to learn that the Rev. Mr. Paisley is in a critical state. He was dan- 
gerously ill this morning. Quebec Mercury, August loth, 1847. 

"Since writing the above we learn that 60 new cases were admitted into hos- 
pital, and 300 more, arrived on the 8th and 9th, remain to be admitted!" 

"The steamer St. George arrived from Grosse Isle yesterday afternoon, but 
brought nothing of importance. The cool temperature of the last few days has 
had a favorable effect on the sick in the tents, and fewer cases of fever had ap- 
peared. 

"The ship Washington from Liverpool, gth of July, had arrived at the sta- 
tion yesterday. She has one cabin, and 305 steerage passengers, had 22 deaths 
and 20 sick. She reports 15 vessels with passengers in the Traverse. 

Quebec Chronicle. 
"Hospital return Grosse Isle, September i4th, 1847. 

Remaining on I4th 1386. 

Died i2th to i3th inst 41." 

"Hospital return Grosse Isle, from igth to 25th of September. 

Remaining on igth 1 196 

Admitted since 436 

1632 



Discharged 234 

Died 121 



355 
1277 

"Deaths at the sheds, where the healthy passengers are landed, during the 
same period. TO. 

"There are 1240 cases of fever, and 37 cases of smallpox. Two men died 
whilst being landed from the Emigrant, and 162 cases were admitted into hospital 
from the same vessel." 



Page One Hundred and Fifteen 



THE GROSSE-ISLE TRAGEDY 

"Hospital statement to the 28th : 

Men 473 

Women. 441 

Children 349 



Total 1263 

Grosse Isle Return of sick in hospitals ist October : 

Remain 

Discharged Died ing 

Men 4*4 IO 3 7 34 

Women 4 12 J 5 6 3 2 53 

Children 326 109 i 216 



1152 368 ii 773 

"About 400 convalescents went up to Montreal in the Canada on Thursday 
last and 35 came up to Quebec in the Lady Colborne on Friday. 

"This has enabled the Medical Superintendent to close another hospital; and 
this day the services of two more medical men, with their staff of orderlies and 
nurses, will be dispensed with." 

"Hospital statement, 5th October. 

"Men, 230 Women, 124 Children, 150 Total, 504. 

"There were then three vessels with emigrants at the station." 



"On Saturday last, 3oth October, the Lord Ashburton, from Liverpool, 
September, with general cargo and passengers, arrived at Grosse Isle in a most 
wretched state. 

"When sailing she had 475 steerage passengers, and before her arrival at the 
Quarantine Station, she had lost 107 by dysentery and fever; and about 60 of 
those remaining were then ill of the same complaints. So deplorable was the 
condition of those on board that five of the passengers had to remain to work the 
ship up from Grosse Isle." 

Reports of the following vessels upon their arrival at Grosse Isle, namely : 

Passengers Deaths Sick 

Sir Henry Pottinger, Cork 399 98 112 

Bark Wellington, Liverpool 435 26 o u 

Bark Sir Robert Peel, Liverpool 458 24 12 

Schooner Jessie, Limerick 108 2 16 

Bark Anne Rankin, Glasgow 232 7 3 

Bark Zealous, London 120 i 5 

"We are glad to learn that the Soeurs Crises, amongst whom sickness and 
death have made such fearful havoc, during their self-immolating ministrations to 
the dying emigrants, are again pursuing their charitable labors at the sheds at 
Point St. Churles. We are happy to learn, also, that the sickness in Griffintown 
is rapidly on the decrease." Montreal Pilot. 

The following advertis3ment is a specimen of many of a similar nature, that 
daily appeared in the newspapers ; and requires no comment : 

Page One Hundred and Sixteen 




OFFICERS CADET CORPS, QUEBEC DIVISION No. 1, A. O. H. 




CADET CORPS, QUEBEC DIVISION No. 1. A. O. H. 



THE GROSSE-ISLE TRAGEDY 

"Information wanted of Abraham Taylor, aged 12 years, Samuel Taylor, 10 
years, and George Taylor, 8 years old, from county Leitrim, Ireland, who landed 
in Quebec about five weeks ago their mother having been detained at Grosse 
Isle. Any information respecting them will be thankfully received by their bro- 
ther, William Taylor, at this office." Montreal Transcript, September nth, 1847. 

anottjtr J$lile*&totte of Jf ortp=&efaen 

BESIDES the national monument at Grosse Isle, the only other mile-stone on the 
shores of the St. Lawrence, marking the flight of the Irish famine-suiferers, 
as well as one of the saddest and most tragic incidents of 1847, is to be 
found at Cape des Hosiers, on the coast of Gaspe. God was more merciful to the 
187 emigrants from the County Sligo, who had taken pasage for Canada on the 
ship "Carrick," of Whitehaven. Death came to them swiftly and they were at 
least spared much of the terrible suffering and the hideous agony of the last 
hours of their unhappy kindred at Grosse Isle. In a blinding snowstorm, which 
swept the Gulf of St. Lawrence on the 23rd May, 1847, the "Carrick" ran in the 
middle of the night upon the rocks at Cape des Rosiers and was dashed to pieces. 
Out of the 187 emigrants on board, scarcely Half a dozen were saved, all the others 
perishing. One of the survivors, a Mrs. Fingleton, still resides in Montreal. At 
the time of the sad event, she was a young girl, coming to this country with her 
father, mother and several other children. The father and two of the children 
were drowned. The few rescued from the wreck were well cared for by the good 
people of the coast. One of the good Samaritans of the occasion was a Rev. 
Father Dowling, of Douglastown, who happened to arrive on the spot the next 
morning and who found one of the victims in a most pitiable condition. His feet 
were lacerated and bleeding from cuts by the rocks. The good Irish priest, taking 
the shoes from his own feet, put them on the poor man and, walking barefooted 
himself, led him to a place of refuge. 

Eighty-seven bodies of the unfortunate victims of the wreck were washed 
ashore and received Christian burial on the beach from the good clergy and people 
of the locality. For fifty-thre years, however, their last resting place remained 
unmarked until the beginning of the present decade, when their sad fate was 
pressed upon the attention of the late Rev. Father Quinlivan, the beloved pastor of 
St. Patrick's, Montreal, by Messrs. J. A. Whelan, postmaster of Cape des Ro- 
siers, Henry Bond, Pierre Guevremont and Eugene Costin, of the same place, with 
the result that, through his patriotic initiative, a few spirited Irishmen in Mon- 
treal contributed and raised the necessary amount to place a suitable monument 
over their graves. On Sunday, the iQth August, 1900, this monument, which is 
of red granite and artistic design and which bears suitable inscriptions, was 
solemnly unveiled and dedicated in the presence of a large gathering of the popula- 
tion of Cape des Rosiers and the different other parishes along the coast, many 
hundreds of whom from Gaspe Basin, Douglastown and other points were, through 
the kindness of the present Government at Ottawa, conveyed to the scene, free of 
charge, on the Government steamer " Aberdeen". The dedication ceremony was 
most imposing. The officers of the Marine Department had loaned their flags and 
a solid platform had been erected and decorated with the green harp of Old Ireland 
and the flags of all nations. Trees had ben cut from the adjoining mountains, 
flowers gathered from the neighborhood, garlands strung together by deft fingers, 
and the monument, draped in artistic fashion, was covered with things of beauty. 
Captain George D. O'Farrell, of Quebec, Government light-house inspector, was 

Pafoe One Hundred and Seventeen 



THE GROSSE-ISLE TRAGEDY 

the moving spirit in all this good work and His Honor Judge Curran had come 
down specially from Montreal, delegated by Father Quinlivan, and the subscribers 
of the monument fund, to preside at the unveiling, of which the following account 
was published by the Montreal True Witness in its then next issue : 

"At half-past four on Sunday afternon all was in readiness. The "Aber- 
deen" had brought her hundreds from Gaspe Basin, the people from the neigh- 
boring parishes had poured in, driven by their hard-pushed horses. The Cure, 
Rev. W. Landry, accompanied by Revds. Trois-maisons and Morris, had marched 
from the church down the hill, headed by the cross and accompanied by thirty 
choir boys, all dressed in immaculately white surplices, to the platform. Twenty 
marines from the "Aberdeen" were ranged immediately alongside of the choir 
boys. On the platform the Mayor, Mr. Anthony Foley, ocupied the chair. On 
his right was Hon. Mr. Justice Curran, and about twenty seats were occupied by 
ladies and gentlemen. Now the scene was complete, but its impressiveness was 
heightened when the gathering, comprising not less than 800 persons, suddenly 
became silent as Father Landry pronounced the benediction upon the monumental 
pile. Judge Curran pulled the string, and the flag surrounding the pillar fell 
amidst the plaintive chant of the "De Profundis," and the "Miserere." Then the 
religious ceremony being over, the Mayor, Mr. Foley, said a few words, and intro- 
duced Father Landry, who made an eloquent address, and then introduced Mr. 
Justice Curran. All are agreed that the Judge's speech was worthy of the occasion. 
He spoke of the Irish race, of its glorious as well as of its tragic history. Having 
sketched the memorable periods, in language vivid and touching, he spoke of the 
events of the igth century Catholic emancipation, the work of the great liberator 
O'Connell, the labors of Father Matthew and other events, calculated to inspire 
hope for Ireland's future, when the famine of 1847, "black '47," as it has been ap- 
propriately called, with all its attendant horrors, stalked through the land. Many 
wept as the speaker dwelt upon the harrowing scenes of which the wreck of the 
"Carrick" was but a minor detail. Then addressing himself to the proceedings of 
the day and to the noble inspiration of the Rev. Father Quinlivan, he closed with 
a peroration, that will long be remembered. The learned Judge was followed by 
Mr. Pierre Guevremont, a worthy French-Canadian, who first brought the circum- 
stances under the notice of Father Quinlivan, and the next speaker was Captain 
George D. O'Farrell, whose remarks were well received. He said other monu- 
ments, more pretentious, had been spoken of, but this one was an accomplished 
fact. He hoped it would act as a spur. To Father Quinlivan too much thanks 
could not be given, as well as to Mr. Guevremont, whilst the people would not 
forget the honor done them by the delegation of so distinguished a representation, 
to speak on behalf of St. Patrick's parish of Montreal. After Captain O'Farrell's 
speech, Miss Costin came to the platform, bearing an exquisite bouquet of flow- 
ers, which she presented to Mr. Justice Curran, after having read an address of 
welcome. In his reply, the Judge took occasion to express the warm thanks oi 
all concerned to the Hon. Mr. Bernier, Minister of Inland Revenue, and then read 
a beautiful letter from Mr. Rodolphe Lemieux, M.P., for Gaspe County, contain- 
ing words of sympathy, and a handsome subscription towards defraying expenses. 
Mr. Lemieux's letter was loudly applauded. This ended the ceremonies of the 
erection of the monument, to the Cape des Rosiers victims, fifty-three years after 
the sad disaster. It is another evidence of the enduring patriotism of the Irish 
people. Fathr Quinlivan 's name is cut in the granite of the monument, but it is 
not less permanently imprinted upon the hearts of a grateful people." 

Page One Hundred and Eighteen 



THE GROSS'S -ISLE TRAGEDY 



Beproaclj anb 3t3 &emobal 

N the "Canadian Messenger of the Sacred Heart" for the present month of 
August, "Vivia Fitz-Grey" writes as follows under the above heading: 
The ancient chronicler, Giraldus, once taunted the Archbishop of Cashel 
because no one in Ireland had received the crown of martyrdom. "Our people 
may be barbarous," the prelate answered, "but they have never lifted their hands 
against God's saints ; but now that a people have come amongst us who know how 
to make them [it was just after the English invasion], we shall have martyrs pre- 
sently." 

Did the archbishop, speaking from the depths of a prophetic soul, see the 
gaunt spectre stalking forth throughout the land? Did visions of leaner kine 
than ever troubled Pharaoh's dreams float before him along the Shannon's banks 
and over against the shores of Killarney's loughs? And was it the portentous 
hapes discerned in the Angevin dawn which became the grim realities of the first 
decade of the Victorian reign? 

The years 1846, 1847' 1848, witnessed a cataclysm in Ireland, for at that 
time a famine fell upon the land. The potato crop failed, a failure that meant 
the extermination of the Irish peasantry, whose dependence on this tuber dated 
from events well-known in Irish history. Successive high-handed land-deals 
Elizabethan, Stuart, Cromwellian had driven the Irish to the bogs and moun- 
tains, where they discovered existence possible only through the cultivation of this 
esculent, so tenacious of life in conditions hostile to all other species of food-plant. 

But a blight came; the crop was ruined. The country soon found itself in 
the throes of a famine. Who was to provide? who was to act? Ireland had no 
legislature of her own, nor had she had for seven and forty years. In the Imper- 
ial Parliament she had but a delusive semblance of representation ; and so totally 
useless was any action of theirs that the Irish members preferred to stay at home. 
But the politicians in England probably knew nothing about the condition of the 
country from which the cries of distress proceeded, or, if they did, they thought 
the time opportune for the making of political capital out of a disaster. It is a 
historic fact that the people were dying by thousands of famine and of fever be- 
fore England as a nation could see her way to move at all in the matter. Even at 
the famous monster meeting held in Dublin, in 1846, where a formidable array of 
lords, commoners and landed proprietors raised their voices in protest and appeal, 
nothing practical resulted. The answer of the Imperial economists to the solemn 
warning and demand of this august assembly, was simply: "We cannot inter- 
fere with the ordinary currents of trade." 

True, the Temporary Relief Act was passed and put into force for a portion 
of the year 1847, but its application was made with unspeakable humiliation to 
the Irish race. The Hon. A. M. Sullivan has left himself on record as a witness : 
"I doubt if the world ever saw so huge a demoralization, so great a degradation, 
visited upon a once high-spirited and sensitive people... I frequently stood and 
watched the scene till tears blinded me, and almost choked with grief and pas- 
sion." 

This Act and a scheme to rid Ireland of its surplus population were really the 
only means settled on by the Government to cope with the disaster. 

But the people, the peasantry, "once the country's pride," were dying, and 
dying by tens of thousands, of famine and of fever. The alternative now became 
flight. "To the sea! to the sea!" and the great and melancholy exodus began to 

Page One Hundred and Nineteen 



THE GROSSE-ISLE TRAGEDY 

the sea, away from the dear old home-land, to the wilds and rigors of the Cana- 
dian colony. 

Who shall depict the tragedy of those scenes? Broken hearts, bitter tears, 
despairing- farewells! The slow-moving- ships, whose sails were shrouds, their 
prows turned westward, and Death in command. Vessels laden with thousands 
of perishing Irish plowed the Atlantic, and no pen can ever describe the nameless 
horrors of a voyage in one of those floating sepulchres. 

Sir Stephen de Vere, who shared the wretchedness of an emigrant ship in 
the interests of his afflicted countrymen, subsequently addressed a letter on the 
subject to the Under Secretary of State, "If the emigrants washed," he wrote, 
"they could not cook their food from lack of water; they had to stay in bed to 
feel their hunger less ; ardent spirits were sold to passengers once or twice a week , 
lights were prohibited because the ship was freighted with powder for the garrison 
of Quebec, although there were open fire-grates upon deck, and lucifer matches 
and lighted pipes used secretly in the sleeping-berths." And this ship was by ex- 
ception better than the other emigrant vessels coming to Canada. 

Hundreds died on the long voyage out, unshriven and unhouseled, being ne- 
cessarily cast overboard to mix with the elements of ocean's depths. Those who 
survived reached the quarantine stations at Partridge Island, New Brunswick, 
and at Grosse Isle, below Quebec, enfeebled by long lack of proper nourishment, 
and infected with disease either from this cause or from the foully unsanitary 
conditions of transportation. They found no adequate preparations made for 
their coming, and they were obliged to remain on the ships at anchor, suffering 
untold misery. 

At the end of the month of May, 1847, the chief agent for emigration at Que- 
bec sends a report of the emigrant vessels at Grosse Isle to the Earl of Elgin, 
then Governor-General of Canada, in which he says : "The number at present 
detained there is twelve thousand, the greater part of whom are still on board 
their ships." He considers the question of feeding this large body of people a 
great and serious problem, the supplies being low, and the regular ration being 
too scant anyway properly to support human life. "The mortality," he adds, "is 
truly alarming, the number of deaths averaging from forty to fifty a day." 

From May 24, 1847, to October i6th of the same year, about one hundred 
thousand Irish emigrants or, more properly speaking, British subjects, if not in- 
deed, full-fledged citizens, were reported to have been landed in the country, and 
were "lying helpless in the sea and river ports of Canada." 

It seems that the German and other emigrants to the Western States, at this 
particular period, found no difficulty in proceeding to their destination ; but the 
Irish who were desirous of joining their relatives in the United States were not 
permitted to land at the ports along the frontier. The American steamboats on 
Lake Champlain refused to take them; and the authorities at Ogdensburg invar- 
iably sent them back. At Oswego and Sackett's Harbor, the same course was 
adopted ; at Lewiston, the ferryman was imprisoned for landing Irish immigrants 
at that place. The United States Government naturally objected to having their 
country made a dumping-ground for the victims of Great Britain's "Clearance" 
policy in Ireland and they had legislated with a view to self-protection. A law 
was enacted limiting the number of persons which each passenger-vessel was al- 
lowed to carry, and raising the passage price so that destitute persons were ex- 
cluded. A law previously in existence in the State of New York was more strict- 
ly enforced, which obliged the owner of a vessel to give bonds that no emigrant 
brought out by him would become chargeable to the Commonwealth for a period 

Page One Hundred and Twenty 



THE GROSSE-ISLE TRAGEDY 

of two years after arrival. The enforcement of these laws helped to augment con- 
siderably the number of diseased and destitute persons to Canada. 

In the official accounts of the time one meets certain depositions made by the 
incomers on their arrival at Grosse Isle, which carry awful condemnations of some 
Irish landlords :*the demolition of houses, the separation of families, and other in- 
stances of cruelty and treachery that make the Acadian tragedy of 1755 P a ^ e mto 
insignificance. Sweeping generalizations are, of course, not to be indulged in. 
It is a fact that sympathy and assistance were given by many landlords and by 
hosts of individuals, both in Ireland and England, but, in the main, Government 
methods had to prevail. The calamity was exploited for the making of political 
capital, with the dire result that two million people, mostly the peasantry, per- 
ished in those dreadful famine years. 

The nations of the world responded to the cry of distress which went forth 
from the British Isles in 1847. John Mitchell told the truth, however, when he 
wrote the words that every son of the Celtic race would endorse: "I solemnly 
affirm that neither Ireland, nor anybody in Ireland, ever asked alms or favors of 
any kind, either from England or any other nation or people; it was England her- 
self that sent round the hat." He wished that the world should know this, even 
while Ireland was trying to show her eternal gratitude to those nations and indi- 
viduals who came forward with help: "to the Czar, the Sultan and the Pope, 
for their roubles and their pauls ; to the Pashas of Egypt, the Shah of Persia, the 
Emperor of China, the Rajahs of India, and above all to the United States, which 
did more than all the rest of the world Philadelphia taking the lead in conspir- 
ing to do for Ireland what her so-styled rulers refused to do to keep her young 
and old people living in the land." 

Westward on to America continues to turn the tide of a hopeless, hapless 
emigration. The quarantine station at Grosse Isle reeks with the squalor and the 
horrors of deadly disease and enforced degradation. Physicians, clergymen and 
private individuals, devote themselves heroically, but their efforts to cope with the 
exigencies are in the proportion of a loaf to a hungry army. Suffering and death, 
fever and panic on all sides. At Grosse Isle alone the total number of deaths is 
estimated at nearly six thousand. 

With the opening of navigation in May, 1847, it was decided to send on to 
Montreal the convalescents at Grosse Isle and Quebec, as well as the new arrivals 
who "were as yet not attacked by the typhus ; so that Montreal now becomes the 
head centre of the trouble. Obedient to the instructions of the encyclical of Pius 
IX, on the Irish famine calamity of 1847, Bishop Bourget, of Montreal, addressed 
a circular letter to his parish priests, requesting the immediate assistance and co- 
operation of all the faithful in the fearful emergency which the colony was facing. 
The response was prompt and generous, considering the circumstances and the 
population of the country. 

A committee was immediately formed to prepare for the arrival of the unfor- 
tunate people who were soon to be cast upon the shores of the Upper St. Law- 
rence. Temporary hospitals, or sheds, were hastily prepared by the municipal 
authorities, and by the middle of June six thousand Irish had been landed at Mon- 
treal. Of this number thirty-five hundred were at once assigned to "the sheds", 
the others being sent up the country to Bytown, to Kingston, to Toronto, and 
adjacent points. But as was to be expected, before the early days of July, the 
epidemic was raging in Montreal. The average daily number of deaths went as 
high as thirty and forty, the disease being no longer confined to the strangers, 
but having spread among the inhabitants of the city. 

Page One Hundred and Twenty-One 



THE GROSSE-ISLE TRAGEDY 

The Sulpicians closed their college to allow their staff of professors to give 
the dying the benefits of their ministry ; the Jesuits of New York City sent a contin- 
gent of their members to fulfill the pressing duties of the hour. At the request 
of the emigration authorities, the Grey Nuns of Montreal took up their position 
at the front, and never flinched during the ordeal, though all, it may be said, con- 
tracted the disease, and many laid down their lives in the field. The Sisters of 
Providence joined their assistance; even the cloisters of the Hotel Dieu were 
thrown open, by episcopal order, to allow these Religious to serve in this moment 
of imperious need. Bishop Bourget was there with Bishop Phelan, of Kingston, 
not only to offer spiritual ministrations, but to alleviate physical suffering as well. 

Matters continued thus for several weeks, the pestilence abating at times, 
only to break out anew, upntil the scourge had at last spent itself, and the ordeal 
was over. In the month of August of this "Black '47," whose gloom thus ex- 
tended to all America, the Bishop of Montreal wrote a second pathetic letter, 
wherein he invoked the Virgin Mary, under the title "Our Lady of Good Help," 
to come to the assistance of her stricken city, promising her the tribute of an 
ex-voto, and at the same to revive the pilgrimages in her honor to the historic 
church of Bonsecours, so popular in the early days of the French Colony. 

Hundreds of fatherless and motherless Irish children whom this catastrophe 
had thrown on the charity of the public, were looked after by the ever devoted and 
kindly disposed French Canadians, who adopted them into their own families, 
or cared for them until protection could be found elsewhere. 

The names and the deeds of many another clergyman, physician, conse- 
crated virgin should somewhere be blazoned in letters of gold ; but data cannot 
be found. In those strenuous days, in Canada, chronicling was largely left to the 
recording angels. 

At Bytown the Ottawa of to-day the records of the time show the daily 
average of typhus patients to have ben two hundred, between the months of June 
and October of this terrible year 1847 with a total of four hundred deaths. The 
Oblate Fathers and the Grey Nuns of the Cross bore nobly their share of the heat 
and burden of the emergency, in no instance shrinking from the dangers and du- 
ties of the hour. At Kingston and Toronto the same humanity and heroism were 
exercised, and edifying traits could be told of if data were not so difficult to ob- 
tain. What is authentic, however, is that the Right Rev. Dr. Power, Bishop of 
Toronto, stricken while attending to his unhappy countrymen, laid down his life 
in the performance of his priestly functions. This Christian self-sacrifice was 
shared also by other denominations, the Rev. Mr. Durie, a Presbyterian minis- 
ter, succumbing to the disease at Bytown. 

The official report of the Montreal Emigrant Society for 1847, embodies this 
pathetic paragaph : "From Grosse Island, the great charnel-house of victimized 
humanity, up to Port Sarnia, and along the borders of our magnificent river, 
upon the shores of Lakes Ontario and Erie, wherever the tide of emigration has 
extended, are to be found the final resting-places of the sons and daughters of 
Erin; one unbroken chain of graves, where repose fathers and mothers, sisters 
and brothers, in one commingled heap, without a tear bedewing the soil nor a 
stone marking the spot. Twenty thousand, and upwards, have thus gone to 
their graves." 

Twelve years later, a portion of this reproach was removed by the erection 
of a monument at Point St. Charles, Montreal. A huge boulder, elemental in 
composition and form, taken from the central span of the Victoria Bridge, when 
the men were building the piers, was set up and inscribed thus : 

Page One Hundred and Twenty-Two 





REV. P. H. BARRETT, C.S8.R. 

Chaplain Division No. 1, A. O. H., 

Quebec 



MISS RAYMOND 

President Div. No. 1, Ladies Auxiliary, 
A. O. H., Quebec 





HON. MICHAEL F. HACKETT 

Of Stanstcad, P.Q., a leading Catholic 
lawyer of the Eastern Townships; a former 
Minister in the Provincial Government, 
and Grand President for many years of the 
Catholic Mutual Benevolent Association. 
An enthusiastic advocate of the National 
Monument at Grosse Isle. 



HON. JUSTICE CURRAN 

Of the Superior Court, Montreal; a pro- 
minent Irishman. 



THE GROSS. E-ISLE TRAGEDY 

TO 

PRESERVE FROM DESECRATION 

THE REMAINS OF 6,OOO IMMIGRANTS 

WHO DIED OF SHIP FEVER 

A. D. 1847-8 

THIS STONE 

IS ERECTED BY THE WORKMEN 

OF 

MESSRS. PETO, BRASSEY & BETTS 
EMPLOYED IN THE CONSTRUCTION 

OF THE 

VICTORIA BRIDGE 
A. D. 1859. 

For some utilitarian purpose, this monument has been, in recent years, re- 
moved to its present position in St. Patrick's Square, which seems to be a case 
of making it a monument standing- wide of the mark. 

And now happily the remaining- portion of the reproach must go. At the an- 
nual banquet of the St. Patrick's Society, Montreal, in March last, the Hon. Char- 
les Murphy, Secretary of State in the Dominion Cabinet, made the important an- 
nouncement that the Canadian Government was prepared to furnish a free site on 
Telegraph Hill, facing the St. Lawrence River, for the monument which the 
Ancient Order of Hibernians propose to erect, "to mark the spot where many hun- 
dreds of patriotic Irishmen lie buried on Grosse Isle." The honorable gentleman 
explained the triple meaning which the sight of this monument is to convey : 

"Primarily the monument will commemorate the heroism of those who left 
their native land rather than abjure that which they prized more dearly than life 
itself. In the next place it will commemorate the kindness of the French Cana- 
dians who ministered to our unfortunate countrymen and countrywomen, and 
when the end had come not only laid them tenderly in their graves, but adopted 
their little ones and cared for them as if these Irish orphans were their own chil- 
dren. But the monument will serve another and a more important purpose. We 
are told that the statue of Liberty, standing in majestic watch and ward over 
New York harbor, was designed to impress the incoming stranger that he is ar- 
riving in a land of freedom. At best, that statue is an abstract symbol, whose im- 
port is grasped by very few individuals among the teeming thousands who enter 
New York for the first time. Not so with the Celtic cross that is to surmount 
Telegraph Hill on the St. Lawrence. As the incoming stranger sails up that noble 
and historic river, his gaze will rest on that monument, and no sooner will he hear 
its story than his mind will receive an indelible impression that this is not only a 
land of freedom, but that it is a land of brotherly love, a land where the races live 
in harmony, and where each vies with the other in promoting the great work of 
national unity." 

With this project carried out, forgetfulness yields to remembrance; neglect 
melts away in the warmth of genuine sympathy, even if it brings its tribute a 
trifle late. Let the Celtic cross arise, then, to the memory of a people who have 
so clearly proven their right to the title, "Lovers of the Cross;" a people whom 
earthly dereliction sends unfailingly to the arms of Christ even as extended on the 
wood of the Cross. In what other form could their endless ignominies be more 
appropriately commemorated? 

The highest form of suffering is endurance. Ireland has borne much and 
loved much withal. Is not this the test of martyrdom? Are the wild beasts in 

Page One Hundred and Twenty-Three 



THE GROSSE-1SLE TRAGEDY 

the arena, the wheel, the boiling bath, the bed of steel, more expressive of man's, 
inhumanity to man and more frightful as means of execution, than the prolonged 
agonies of slow starvation and of neglected disease? 

With an approximate two millions of men, women and children, subjected 
to these long-drawn-out tortures, till death cut the Gordian knot of their trial ; 
with uncomputed thousands awaiting their resurrection on American soil with 
these totallings, the martyr-roll of Ireland sems sufficiently full, and the reproach 
of Giraldus quite amply removed. VIVIA FITZ-GREY. 



Several days after the monument celebration at Grosse Isle, a Montreal paper 
published the following under the heading of "Memorial Stone to be Restored 
Hibernians Confident that Point St. Charles Fever Relic will be Replaced": "A 
question much bruited amongst Hibernians during the past few years in this city, 
and one which was a topic of considerable discussion during the Grosse Isle cele- 
bration, even being referred to by the National President, Matthew Cummings, in 
his speech, is the removal of the memorial stone erected in 1859 by the workmen 
of Peto, Brassey & Betts, from the grave of the many fever victims, at Point St. 
Charles. This stone, which was taken out of its former resting place by the 
G.T.R., and thrown by the roadside on Wellington street, remaining there for 
months until finally placed in its present position on St. Patrick's Square, was un- 
derstood to have been erected as a perpetual memorial or as local tradition has it, 
"as long as water flows and grass grows." Hence its secret removal, in the dead 
of night, the dishonor cast upon it by being left out on the side of the public high- 
way, the apparent lethargy into which some Hibernians had fallen concerning this 
insult offered to their revered dead, was condemned in no uncertain terms. 

"A visiting Hibernian, high up in the order, commenting upon the success of 
the celebration, which demonstrated the great strength of the order in the province 
of Quebec, expressed the hope that local members would rally to the call of the 
National President, whilst leading Montreal officers were unanimous in their as- 
surance that, under present favorable circumstances, and relying upon the known 
good will of His Lordship, the Anglican Bishop of Montreal, who holds the title 
deeds of the property, they would not be tardy in seeing that such a sacred relic 
be restored to its former place of honor in the community." 

3 &urt)tbor'g fetorp ftecallefa 

'N 1847, the year of the Irish famine, and the death and burial at Grosse Isle of 
the Irish immigrants who died from the fever plague, Nicholas Piton, a 
Jersey man, and his girl wife of 19, lived on the island. Piton was then 
manager for Martin Ray, of Quebec, who furnished the provisions on the island 
and was known as the sutler. 

Mrs. Marceau, of Quebec, who is a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Piton, both of 
whom are now dead, tells as she heard them from her mother's lips the horrors of 
that eventful year. She spoke of one ship which left Ireland laden with emigrants 
and which, on reaching Grosse Isle, was flying a white flag, only the captain and 
mate being alive on board. Both were taken to hospital, where they died several 
days later. Hundreds were buried daily and owing to dread of the disease it was 
almost impossible to secure nurses. The women inmates of the Quebec gaol were 
liberated conditionally that they should nurse the plague-stricken people at Grosse 
Isle. Most of those nurses became victims of the disease and died. Scarcely any 

Page One Hundred and Twenty-Four 



THE GROSSE-ISLE TRAGEDY 

who were attacked by the fever survived. It was only in exceptional cases that 
those who contracted the disease lived to relate the story of the terrible ordeal. 

The work of Fathers McGuirk and McGauran was saintly. Day and night 
these de x oted priests were to be seen hovering to and fro from pallet to pallet giv- 
ing spirir.ua! relief to the sufferers. Regardless of themselves, they toiled on with 
out rest and with improper nourishment, sparing nothing to accomplish their holy 
mission. As an example of their spirit of Catholicity and magnanimity, Mrs. 
Marceau tells the following story which was often related to her by her mother : 

Wishing to relieve a sick man, Father McGuirk approached Mrs. Piton and 
asked her for a glass of wine. On receiving it he turned about to give it to the 
patient, when to his surprise he saw Father McGauran at the man's side. 

"What are you doing there, McGauran?" he asked. 

"I'm giving the poor man absolution," was the reply. 

''Sure, man, he's a Protestant," returned Father McGuirk. 

"Never mind," said McGauran, "if it won't do him any good, it won't do him 
any harm." 

Among the Protestant clergy who did good work was Bishop Mountain. 

Most of the children who survived the quarantine were left orphans and were 
shipped to Quebec and Montreal. 

Mr. Piton was stricken down with the disease, but was nursed through it by 
his young wife who caught it also, but only late in the autumn, when she had gone 
to Quebec to spend the Winter. 

Mrs. Piton only died four years ago and on the occasion of the excursion to 
Grosse Isle in '97 to celebrate the $oth anniversary, she made the trip with her 
son, but did not let anybody know how closely connected she had been with the 
place and its gruesome story. When on the island, however, she enquired to find 
out if there was anybody else present who had gone through the terrors of '47, 
and discovered that there was only one old boatman who was still on the island 
and who had been there during the plague. 

Nicholas Piton afterwards became one of the leading building contractors of 
Quebec and Levis, taking an active part in the construction of the forts at the 
latter place for the Imperial Government and, as a member of the contracting firm 
of Cimon & Piton, erecting the Parliament Buildings in Quebec for the Provincial 
Government. 

Haugi)ter Benounceb 



any newspaper, hardly any book, Irish, English, French, American or 
Canadian, dealing with the subject of the awful slaughter of the fever and 
famine years in Ireland, can be taken up that does not severely denounce 
it and those who were largely and criminally responsible for it. 

The Imperial Census Commission declared that more than a million and a half 
of persons in Ireland were stricken down by the epidemic during and immediately 
after 1846, adding : "There are no statistics to establish the number of the starv- 
ing peasantry, who died on the roads and among the hedges." 

Sir Robert Peel said : "I do not believe that the annals of any civilized or even 
barbarous country have ever presented such a picture of horrors." 

Right Hon. John Bright said : "There are parts of Ireland which cannot be 
traversed even yet (1854) without realizing that an enormous crime was commit- 
ted by the Government of this country." 

Even the London Times said : "The name of Irish landlord stinks in the nos- 
trils of the whole civilized world. " 
Page One Hundred and Twenty- Five 



THE GROSSE-ISLE TRAGEDY 

J)e 3frisf) potato Crop 

3N one of his historical works, John Mitchell has justly remarked that the great- 
est conquest in England ever made was to gain the ear of the world. In the 
case of Ireland especially, she has for centuries possessed not only its soil, 
but the advantage of telling the story of its oppressed people from her own view 
point, while preventing them from making themselves heard in their own behalf. 
Down almost to within the memory of living men, education, even in its most 
rudimentary form, was a felony in Ireland, on the correct enough principle that 
the most effective method of subjugating and despoiling a people is to keep them 
in enforced ignorance. And for centuries the English press and English public 
men and writers have systematically misrepresented and sneered at the Irish peo- 
ple as an ignorant, thriftless, lazy, filthy, drunken, seditious lot, eternally pos- 
sessed of a grievance and always giving trouble through their turbulence, their 
levity of character and, what our American friends would call, their general cus- 
sedness. Even the machinery of the stage has been used to mercilessly caricature 
them and to so associate all these supposed characteristics, together with pigs, 
potatoes, caubeens, dudeens and landlord shooting with the Irish name, that the 
outside world has come to largely believe in these cruel slanders and to regard 
the sober, decent, peaceful, industrious Irishman as a rara avis, an exception to 
his race, who should be excused for being so different from the rest. Yet, in pro- 
portion to population, Ireland's drink bill is far below that of England, Scotland, 
the United States or Canada, its people are as industrious and thrifty as any 
other in Europe, if not vastly more so, considering the additional rent and other 
oppressive burthens which they have had to bear, and though they belong to "the 
fighting race" par excellence of the world, they are not more quarrelsome or tur- 
bulent than other peoples similarly situated; they are not going about inviting 
others to tread on the tail of their coats, but when they do enter the fighting 
ranks, they invariably give a good account of themselves. The Kellys, the 
Burkes and the Sheas have ever been to the front on many a hard fought field, 
and British arms have more than once owed their rescue or their success to their 
dauntless, dashing bravery. As it was to an Irishman, the Duke of Wellington, 
that England was indebted for the final defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo, so 
also was it the military genius and energetic qualities of two others, Lord Roberts 
and General French, that she may thank for her eventual triumph in the Boer 
war. As for the assassinations of landlords in Ireland in past years, it may be 
said, without seeking to justify them, that they were the natural outcome of the 
grievous wrongs persistently inflicted on an ignorant, but high-spirited people 
driven to desperation and left without redress in any other way. 

As for the charge of want of thrift, energy, industry and organizing power, 
so frequently hurled at the Irish, the reply is that it is disproved by the remarkable 
success of Irishmen and men of Irish blood in every land but their own. Irish 
names stand high on the roll of fame all over the world, in the industries, in the 
arts and sciences, in literature, in the medical and other liberal professions, in the 
Church in fine, in every calling and walk of life. In Canada, an Irishman, Sir 
Charles Fitzpatrick, fills at this moment the highest position next to the Gov- 
ernor-General, and Canadian annals fairly bristle with illustrious Irish names. 
Among our American neighbors, no less than nine of the signers of their famous 
Declaration of Independence were Irish or of Irish descent. As captains of indus- 
try, capitalists, bankers, merchants, journalists, statesmen, orators, literary men, 
poets, novelists, politicians, military and naval leaders, churchmen, explorers, 
miners, etc., few races have distinguished themselves as much as the Irish in the 
Page One Hundred and Twenty-Six 





HIS GRACE MGR. O'CONNELL 
Archbishop of Boston 



HIS GRACE MGR. FARLEY 
Archbishop of New York 





HIS EXCELLENCY THE LATE MGR. 
CONROY 

Bishop of Ardagh, Ireland, first Papal 
Delegate to Canada. 



LATE FATHER MCCARTHY, C.SS.R. 

An Ardent Support?! 1 of the Monument 
Project 



THE GROSS E-ISLE TRAGEDY 

United States, and the same may be said of the representatives of the race in Aus- 
tralia and the other British possessions, as well as in other parts of the world. 

But one of Oie most cruel and gratuitously insulting charges of all levelled 
against that much maligned race and believed in by many, is that they brought 
the terrible calamity and suffering of 1846-47 upon themselves by their own fault, 
through their improvidence and through placing their entire dependence upon ont 
crop the potato. But the ever increasing exactions of their spendthrift landlords 
left them nothing to be provident or saving with. They simply lived poorly from 
hand to mouth and as for placing their dependence upon a single crop, the 
potato was the only one usually abundant enough to support them and their 
families. Everything else they laised from the land went to pay rent and tithes 
and that more than enough other food than the potato was raised in Ireland to 
have supported its people during the failure of the potato crop, is proved by the 
large exports of provisions to England during that period. 

The charge referred to, especially in the mouths of Englishmen, sounds very 
much like the old saying about knocking a man down and then kicking him for 
falling. And when the ignorant or the thoughtless ask why Irishmen did not turn 
their attention to doing something else for their living but potato-growing and 
hog-raising, we are reminded of the titled English lady who, when told that the 
poor of a certain place were suffering from want of bread, innocently enquired 
why they did not eat cake. The fact is that for upwards of two hundred and 
fifty years, all that English law and tyranny could do, all that perverted human 
ingenuity and rapacious greed could devise, to kill Ireland's trade and industries, 
to leave to the Irish people nothing else but the land and agriculture to subsist 
upon chiefly for landlord benefit and the supplying of the English market, was 
resorted to. Consequently there is no reason to blame the Irish people for plac- 
ing their chief dependence upon the potato crop, for they had nothing or little else 
left to depend upon. No less weighty an authority than the late Lord Dufferin, 
Canada's former popular Governor-General, has placed this question beyond doubt 
by his writings and utterances, showing how Ireland's trade and industries were 
ruthlessly destroyed to build up England's commercial and industrial supremacy. 
To-day, good women like Lady Aberdeen and others are trying to lock the stable 
door after the steed has been stolen. They are attempting to revive certain petty 
Irish industries, but their work is more or less an up-hill one, for the peasantry, 
who were formerly expert in them, are gone. Their mouldering remains fill the 
famine and fever pits of 1846-47. 

As showing the great economic importance and value of the Irish potato 
crop, as well as the leading part it still plays in the subsistence of the Irish people 
at home, the following extract from a recent Irish paper will be found of interest 
when recalling he w they suffered from its failure in 1846-47 : 

"In potatoes we are supreme; here we beat England and leave Wales and 
Scotland nowhere. Last year was a great year for potatoes, for on a less acreage 
we raised a very increased yield. It is strange that in this matter of potatoes, 
where we beat al' the rest, our average yield per acre is less than all the rest. 
We suppose the habit and the fact that potatoes are raised largely for consump- 
tion on the premises, as distinct from realization in the market, have much to say 
to this. In 1908 we raised 3,199,678 tons of potatoes; England raised 2,719,569, 
Scotland 1,048,559, and Wales only 151,700. We have a very small importation 
of potatoes, whilst in 1907 we exported over 100,000 tons, valued at .394,937. 
Evidently 3 a ton is under the mark as a price for potatoes, but if we take it at that 
our potato yield in 1908 was 9,499,104, and we ate nearly all of them ourselves." 

Page One Hundred and Twenty-Seven 



THE GROSSE-1SLE TRAGEDY 

Cfje >f)ip jFeber at ^Montreal 

(By the Lnte ALFKED PERRY) 

"In the year 1846 there was a famine in Ireland and Scotland which led to a 
general movement of all who could scrape together enough money to pay their 
passage to America. Canada was not at that time in a good position to receive 
or absorb a large and sudden influx of poor people unaccustomed to its ways and 
its climate. This country was largely a wilderness at that time; communication 
with distant and often isolated settlements was difficult. The Canadian harvest 
of 1846 was poor and there was but little surplus products in the country. With 
the authorities in the Old Country the sole idea was to get rid of the surplus 
population, and dumping it on the colonies was the cheapest, easiest, most effect- 
ual means for doing so. To meet the incoming flood of destitute humanity, Can- 
ada had no efficient police, no poor laws, no local opulence, no public charitable in- 
stitutions. Prices of provisions were high and supplies inadequate. There were 
no extensive public works requiring laborers. There was, indeed, nothing but 
land, and no man could go on a Canadian bush farm, fresh from a country where 
conditions were altogether different, with nothing but his hands. Nevertheless, 
it is a fact that many who had already settled in Canada sent home money to en- 
able relatives to join them. Speaking in reply to Mr. Smith O'Brien, in the House 
of Commons, Lord John Russell said that emigrants settled in the United States 
and Canada had within a short period sent home no less a sum than ^"600,000 
stg., to enable their friends to emigrate. An idea of the extent of the tide of 
emigration at that time may be formed by the fact that in 1846, no less than 125,- 
678 persons had sailed for North America. 

"Towards the latter end of May the tide had fairly set in, and on June i there 
were 35 vessels in quarantine at Grosse Isle. At that date the physicians reported 
five cases of typhus fever ; deaths during the voyage and after arrival were set 
down to dysentery superinduced by want and lack of change of provisions on the 
voyage. A correspondent wrote: 4 In Quebec immigrants of every description 
crowd the streets. Germans, thickly bearded and wearing large moustaches, are 
met with in abundance; Irishmen, gaunt, and troops of children swarm every- 
where. The larger proportion are perfectly destitute.' 

"On June 7 there were 40 ships in quarantine at Grosse Isle and 20,000 immi- 
grants afloat and on shore. A virulent form of typhus had broken out and a few 
cases were reported at Quebec. The disease had also broken out on the steamers 
plying between Quebec and Montreal, and many persons died on the way. 

"By June 14, according to the reports in the Montreal papers, there were a 
multitude of destitute and diseased persons landed on the wharves from the steam- 
boats.' The emigrant sheds were much overcrowded and deaths numerous. The 
Gazette stated that 'the prevailing disease seems to be low typhoid fever, and the 
fatal cases are mostly those on whom the peculiar local influences, either of air 
or water, cause when in a state of debility dysentery to supervene.' 

"The number of deaths from the 'ship fever,' as it was called, rose to about 250 
a week in the latter half of the month of June. After that date the death rate 
decreased. The ravages of the disease were almost entirely confined to the immi- 
grants. Mr. Yarwood, chief emigrant agent, died of the fever, which he con- 
tracted while in discharge of his duty. During the first week in July the fever 
claimed many victims, among them several Roman Catholic priests, who had gone 
to Grosse Isle to minister to the spiritual wants of the immigrants. 

"A Montreal newspaper of July 4th said : 'Nothing which can be done to alle- 
viate the sufferings of the emigrants, and guard the city from contagion has been 
Page One Hundred and Twenty -Eight 



THE GROSSE-ISLE TRAGEDY 



omitted.' The same paper described the emigrant sheds as 'really comfortable, 
well-covered wooden framed structures,' with convenient places for cooking-, and 
abundance of wholesome bread and meat for all those in want, provided by the 
Government. 

"By the 8th the weather had become extremely sultry. Steamboats con- 
tinued to land emigrants by hundreds, and it was found that the contagion had 
spread to the regular residents of the city. A newspaper editorially observed : 
'Notwithstanding the efforts of the Government to meet the unexampled pressure 
of the flood of misery and disease from immigration, it is daily accumulating be- 
yond the means yet available to meet it. The condition of the poor people at the 
sheds is described as most deplorable, and one by one even their medical attend 
ants are sinking beneath the weight of fatigue and contagion, the latter aggra- 
vated by difficult accommodation, and its consequent filth and misery.' 

" While this was the condition of things at the 'sheds,' the General Hospital 
and Infirmary were crowded to repletion with fever cases from among the people 
of the city. They are so numerous as to embarrass the physicians, and almost 
to make proper means of cure out of the question isolation is impossible." 

"The Pilot of July 8 contained the following appalling statement: 'There are 
at the present moment forty-eight nuns sick from exposure, fatigue and the at- 
tacks of the disease. All the Grey Nuns in attendance, two of the Sisters of Char- 
ity, five physicians and eight students, now lie sick; to which gloomy and sicken- 
ing record we must add the number of 1586 persons of all ages and sexes lingering 
on beds of wretchedness and corruption, in many cases without an attendant to 
afford a drop of water or even attend to those decent formalities which the sad 
solemnities of death require. The living and the dead are mingled in groups to- 
gether, and presented a spectacle where Death reigned in his most terrible inflic- 
tions, and where oppressed humanity had assembled to pay him tribute.* 

"On the same day that this report appeared the heat was terrific and several 
cases of sunstroke were recorded in the papers. 

"July zoth the Press roundly denounced the Emigrant Commissioners for not 
moving the immigrants to Boucherville Island, instead of keeping them at Wind- 
mill Point, where 1800 wretched creatures are huddled together, and without pro- 
per care of any kind, dying in spaces of about 5 feet by 4." The same paper also 
alluded to the "horrible fact that the citizens of Montreal must drink the river 
water, passing down, impregnated with all the foul effluvia and excrements of dis- 
ease. In addition to these horrors, thieves, bidding defiance to contagion, were 
continually prowling about the sheds plundering the dying and the dead. 
"On July i6th the number of sick at the sheds was 1500; deaths, 23. 
"July i7th, La Minerve stated that all the priests of the Seminary who were 
in attendance on the immigrants had been prostrated by the epidemic. One of 
them, Rev. P. Richard, had died. Rev. Mr. Connolly was the only English- 
speaking priest able to visit the sheds. The same paper tells of severe sickness 
among the nuns, and the death of Sister Primeau. At this time 400 orphan immi- 
grant children were being cared for by Les Dames du Bon Pasteur, and other 
religious institutions of the city. 

"During the week ending July 2Oth, the mortality reached 240. 
"A great number of cases of concealment of money came to light so as to 
lead to great doubts that the poverty of immigrants was so great as pretended. 
It was declared, there is no getting them to labor for reasonable wages ; they seem 
determined, if possible, to get fed, and forwarded at the expense of the Govern- 
ment to the West. One person died in the sheds, on pauper's allowance, and suf- 

Page One Hundred and Twenty-Nine 



THE GROSSE-1SLE T R A G E D Y 

fering all the miseries of the place, on whose person ^345 were found. Cases of 
10, 20 and 30 sovereigns were found on bodies of deceased immigrants, who, when 
almost in the agonies of death, beseeched for charity in the most piteous accents 
and protested they were destitute. 

"Among the horrors of the time many noble and touching instances were wit- 
nessed. How to provide for the hundreds of destitute orphans became a question 
of leading importance. Several parish priests took an active interest in it. 
Among others it is related that Rev. Mr. Harper, cure of St. Gregoire, went to 
Grosse Isle, from which place he took thirty Irish orphan children, dressed them 
neatly, and distributed them among his parishioners for adoption. Three times 
this worthy priest made the trip, taking thirty orphans away each time, and pro- 
viding them all with homes. 

"A paper of July 24th contained the following editorial: 'It is our painful 
duty to announce the death of the Rev. Mr. Richard, an aged and respected priest 
of the Roman Catholic Church. This is the eighth gentleman of the Seminary 
who has fallen a victim to his pious zeal from contagion caught in administering 
the rites of their religion to the destitute emigrants in the sheds. The whole of 
the Sisters of the Grey Nunnery are laid up with illness contracted in the same 
mission. Nevertheless, the exertions of the Roman Catholic clergy are unwearied 
by fatigue and undeterred by danger. The Right Rev. the Bishop of the Diocese 
and his Vicar-General spend alternate nights in watching in that pestilential at- 
mosphere, over the sick and dying. There never surely was any Church, which in 
the times of the most fiery persecution proved, at the sacrifice of comfort and life, 
its devotion to religious duty, and what it believed to be religious truth, more 
signally than does now the Roman Catholic clergy of Montreal." 

"During the first week in August the deaths among citizens were 149, among 
immigrants, 65. 

"During the month of July the deaths averaged 30 per day. In August the 
pestilence showed marked decline. Between the ist and the 6th of August 600 
fever convalescents were discharged from the hospitals. 

"On August i3th Very Rev. Mr. Hudon, Vicar-General to the Roman Catholic 
Bishop of Montreal, died of typhus fever, contracted while administering the last 
rites to dying immigrants at the sheds. The Bishop, himself, and Rev. Mr. de 
Charbonnel, afterwards Bishop of Toronto, were stricken down with the disease, 
but recovered after much suffering. They, too, had been in daily attendance on 
the immigrants. 

"Every few days the papers published alleged cures for the fever, supplied by 
correspondents who vouched for the efficacy thereof. At last this cure was pro- 
mulgated : "Temperance, cleanliness and pure air." The disease, however, con- 
tinued virulent, the deaths for August averaging 24 daily. 

"By the middle of September the fever had abated considerably, the number 
of sick had decreased from near 2,000 to less than 1,000, and the deaths to 16 per 
day. About this time, the Grey Nuns, who had survived the pestilence, returned 
to their charitable labors at Point St. Charles. About 20 of them had died of it. 
"At the beginning of October, the sick numbered 835, and the deaths 7. 
There was an increase, however, further on in the month, and news came from 
Toronto of the death by typhus, caught while attending the emigrants, of the Rt. 
Rev. Dr. Power, Roman Catholic Bishop of Toronto, who was well known at 
Montreal. 

"The first snow fell October 15. Cold weather followed, and the newspapers 
ceased to publish daily bulletins of the progress of the pestilence. 

Page One Hundred and Thirty 



THE GROS -SB-ISLE TRAGEDY 

"Mr. J. E. Mills, Mayor of Montreal, and chief of the Emigrant Commission, 
died on the i4th November, a victim to the prevalent disease. He had devoted 
himself with untiring energy to the care of the perishing immigrants. He was in 
daily attendance at the sheds, where he stayed for hours at a time, ministering 
with his own hands to the wants of the sick and dying. The whole city, headed 
by the Governor-General, attended his funeral and all the papers contained elo- 
quent tributes to his memory." 

31 ^cotcijman's J^arrattbe 

NTIL death carried him off not very many years ago at a remarkably ad- 
vanced age, no citizen of Quebec was better known or more respected 
than the late Mr. John Wilson, the veteran steamboat man. Among his 
valuable writings on Grosse Isle, Mr. J. M. O'Leary cites as follows Mr. Wilson's 
evidence, which is most interesting : 

"I am in receipt of two letters from a Scotch Presbyterian gentleman in Que- 
bec, John Wilson, Esq., who, I may add, is hale and hearty at eighty-one years of 
age. He is one of the few living witnesses of what took place in and about Grosse 
Isle, and between Grosse Isle and Montreal in 1847, and his letters are, therefore, 
interesting. The first letter was addressed to Francis Gunn, Esq., a leading Irish 
Catholic importer of Quebec, and (the present consul for Norway at that port), 
who kindly forwarded it to me ; and the second was sent to me direct. 

"In his letter to Mr. Gunn, dated i3th April, he says : 

"I return the Record you kindly left for me at Mr. Borland's. I am fully 
acquainted with all the details of the Irish emigration of 1847, having been the 
principal agent in forwarding some eighty thousand suffering people from Grosse 
Isle to Point St. Charles, Montreal. 

"The thirty-five vessels mentioned in the paper were all anchored near the 
island on the ist of June. Some of them had been there for two or three weeks, 
our Government doing nothing to remove the horrid scenes being enacted there. 
At last Doctor Campbell, of Montreal, was sent to confer with Mr. Buchanan, 
Emigrant Agent, on the subject. They sent for me, and took my advice, to send 
three large steamers, the "Quebec," "Queen" and "Alliance." I went with them 
to Grosse Isle, and broke the blockade by taking out of the ships all of the people 
who were fit to travel. In a week those vessels were cleaned up and came to 
Quebec. All the vessels that arrived afterwards were easily managed, as the 
steamers could readily carry from one thousand to fourteen hundred people, as 
there was no baggage of any account. Being fast steamers, in twelve to fourteen 
hours they reached Montreal. Not being allowed to carry either freight or pas- 
sengers, they returned at once to Quebec to coal up, and started without delay for 
Grosse Isle. 

"Dr. Douglas and Mr. Buchanan being laid up with the fever, I was left 
pretty much to my own resources, in handling such a mass of sick humanity. 

"You may imagine to what straits we were put when we ran those large 
steamers with only five or six men, when eighteen or twenty was the usual com- 
plement. 

"Five thousand eight hundred were buried on the island that year, and I can 
never forget the awful scenes enacted there. Doctors were of no use. Bread, 
meat, clothes and cleanliness were what was wanted, and we cured more of them 
on the boats than the Government gang put together. 

Page One Hundred and Thirty-One 



THE G R O S S E - I S L E TRAGEDY 

"I was never sick, and had no fear in walking among- and handling the dead 
and dying, while nearly all the fat office-holders, who should have been helping, 
were absent. 

4 'Tenders asked for, were for a small boat to make a trip once a week from 
Quebec to the island; but those kind of boats were of no use in '47. 

"As you are a good Irishman, I have given you here the first written account 
of my experience in that awful year, which may add to your knowledge of the ter- 
rible sufferings of your countrymen." 

In his letter to me, dated the 2Oth inst., Mr. Wilson says : 

"Eighteen hundred and forty-seven was one of the most cruel years I ever 
passed. The sufferings of the poor people, and the day and night work, without 
adequate help, caused by the sickness of some and the cowardice of others, left 
me no rest. 

"The miserable Government in 1847 had a fit of economy as soon as the 
bulk of the emigrants was disposed of. They then employed small boats to carry 
the emigrants from Grosse Isle direct to Kingston, without stopping at Montreal. 
The result was, as I told Mr. Buchanan it would be, a heavy loss of life, owing to 
the emigrants being confined for days in passing through the canals, whereas 
changing them into clean boats and at short intervals was their very life. I do 
not remember losing any in my boats between Grosse Isle and Montreal, as we 
gave them all the conveniences for cooking, washing and cleaning up that large 
passenger steamers afforded, and a wonderful improvement showed itself on the 
run from the island. But at Point St. Charles, as at quarantine, no suitable pre- 
paration had been made for the reception of so many people, and numbers of 
deaths occurred that were a disgrace to the Government. 

"Grosse Isle is a pretty place in summer, and Dr. Douglas kept everything in 
fine order, but there was no accommodation or attendance for one-tenth of the 
emigrants. The removal of all those fit to travel became a dire necessity; and 
many, many deaths were occasioned by the long delay of the Government in giv- 
ing the necessarv orders to leave. As Dr. Douglas was worn out trying to do 
impossibilities, he was compelled to instruct, me and the captains of the steamers 
to pass the emigrants by the color of their tongues, but in spite oi every precau- 
tion many rushed aboard, leaving the dying and the dead behind them, all ties of 
relationship being completely lost in their determinatiofi to get out of the ship. 

"I had no time to be much on the island, but a few devoted clergymen and 
others were doing everything possible for the sick. As for the dead, they were 
piled like cordwood until such time as they could be carried away and buried. I 
have no doubt but some disorders took place among the class of persons who were 
hired, but I never saw a quieter and more resigned people than the emigrants. 

"Dr Douglas, who had long been superintendeat on the island, kept, as I 
have said, everything in fine order. He made a nice little farm at the east end 
of the island, had some fine cows, and sold milk to the sick. For this good work, 
jealous people got up a cry against him, and persecuted him to death. I am sorry 
that all the boats' books were lost, or I might give you a good many details I now 
forget. 

"T have read your narrative in the two numbers of the Catholic Record you 
were kind enough to send me, and I see nothing but what is a true description of 
what happened. The emigrants were simply starved to death, as the barrels of 
meal I saw on the ships were unfit for human food." 

______^ Page One Hundred and Thirty-Two 





HON. JAMES McSHANE 
("The People's Jimmy") a prominent 
Montreal Irishman; a former Minister of 
Public Works of the Province of Quebec 
and Mayor of Montreal, and now Harbor 
of Montreal . 



EX-JUDGE DOHERTY, s.c. 

Now member for the Stc. Anne's Divis- 
ion, in the Canadian Parliament; a patri- 
otic and prominent Montreal Irishman. 





LATE MICHAEL DAVITT 
Great Irish Patriot 



LATE HON. THOS. D'ARCY McGEE 
Great Irish Orator and Poet 



THE GROS-SE-ISLE TRAGEDY 



CONSTANCY unalterable constancy amounting-, as some may think, too often, 
to a fervid and almost religious devotion to lost causes, is a distinct qual- 
ity of Irish character, and never was this quality more emphasized than 
during- the terrible famine and fever years. St. Patrick's whole life still speaks 
unto Ireland, as the psalmist said unto Zion, "Thy God liveth." In her darkest 
days the nation never despaired of her Creator's beneficence and mercy. Those 
who have read the "Black Prophet," or who have listened to descriptions of it at 
their grandsire's knee, may form some faint idea of the terrible Irish famine, 
when on the mountain sides and in the valleys, on the highways and in the ditches, 
in sheds and in hovels, on the ocean and in the fever sheds at Grosse Isle, Ire- 
land's best, truest and noblest sons died of starvation and pestilence. Clarence 
Mangan has put their lament into verse : 

"Before us die our brothers of starvation; 
Around us cries of famine and despair; 
Where is hope for us, or comfort or salvation, 
Where, O where? 

If the angels ever hearken, downward bending, 
They are weeping, we are sure, 
At the litanies of human groans ascending 
From the crushed hearts of the poor." 

On the bond of Ireland's constancy, Time has put the seal of the world's 
opinion. The only exception to this constancy recorded is the case of the poor 
widow, who, with her starving children, was wending her way to the nearest soup 
kitchen, and who, as she was about to descend the hill that hid the parish chapel 
from view, turned and waved back a sad farewell, saying, "Good-bye, God; I'll 
return when the praties grow again." 

Those were the days that tried men's souls. Poets sing of them in a minor 
key in words like these : 

''O, Ireland, my country, the hour 
Of thy pride and thy splendor is past; 
And the chain that was spurned in thy moment of power, 
Hangs heavy around thee at last." 




Page One Hundred and Thirty-Three 



THE GROSSE-ISLE TRAGEDY 



>'re Srtefj ! 

(Written for the TELEGRAPH GROSSE ISLE MONUMENT SOUVENIR NUMBER). 

Though far from the glen and the hill and the valley, 

Though far from the land that with martyr-blood's blest, 
Our manhood is thine, and our thoughts round thee rally ; 

Our heart's with thee, Ireland, fond Gem of the West! 
Though proud of our home and the peace that reigns o'er it, 

And brave with thy courage, that's ever the best; 
Though strong in our freedom, and true to the core; yet 

We're Irish! We're Irish! famed Isle of the West! 

Thy dells may be hushed and thy homes be deserted, 

Loved sons may have answered the Freeland's behest, 
But ne'er could our souls from thy shores be diverted : 

Wi love thee, sweet Ireland, our pride in the West! 
'Mongst sons of the world's varied lands, many nations, 

True, all may not know thee, because thou'rt distressed, 
But, e'en if thou'rt poor, and thy share tribulations, 

We're Irish, thank God, cherished Gem of the West! 

We've suffered, we've fought, we've bled, we've retorted, 

We've spent well our scorn on each scorpion's nest; 
To naught but our brain and our brawn we've resorted : 

O-r heart's with thee, Ireland, brave Land of the West! 
It may b-, alas! that e'en sons of thee, Mother, 

Have failed to prove true in our nationhood's test; 
They're few, and we're proud not to hail them as brother : 

We're Irish! We're Irish! our Gem of the West! 

We stand for our God, and we stand for His Altar, 

We battle for justice, and this we do, lest 
The Faith that is thine in our hearts could e'er falter : 

We're true to thee, Ireland, Saints' Isle in the West ! 
We're loved and we're hated, we're feared and we're trusted : 

To friend or to foe we can grant his request; 
We're reckoned with e'er, for our steel never rusted : 

We're Irish! We're Irish! famed Land of the. West! 

Thou'st led well the foe in the halls of his nation, 

Thou'st taught him the law e'en for guidance the best; 
And this through all anguish and foulest vexation : 

We're glad we are Irish, our Isle in the West! 
From Home have we gone; but we rose and we've prospered, 

We've toiled to the front and our only request : 
That Ireland, fair Ireland, the love that we've fostered, 

Be Ireland, free Ireland, the Queen of the West! 

(REV.) R. H FITZ-HENRY, C.S.C. 
GOD SAVE IRELAND! 
___ Page One Hundred and Thirty-Four 



THE GROSSE-ISLE TRAGEDY 



(Written for the TELEGRAPH'S GROSSE ISLE MONUMENT SOUVENIR). 

Where grand Laurentia's mighty current sweeps 

Across the surface of this fair domain, 
There springs a verdure-covered isle, which keeps 

Alive the memory of a poignant pain : 
For there, where now the fragrant hawthorn blows, 

And 'neath the fields, where wild-flowers bow and nod, 
The dust of many Irish hearts repose f 

Their virtues radiating from the sod. 
'Twas peace they sought! 'Twas rest they found! Their dust 

Restored unto infinite mother earth, 
As the sweet waters of St. Lawrence must 

Soon mingle in the salt Atlantic's girth : 
But their high precepts live, as does the isle, 

Firm as the rock, prolific as the soil. 

JAS. A. McMANAMY. 

in iWemortam 

(Written for the TELEGRAPH GROSSE ISLE MONUMENT SOUVENIR NUMBER) 

They'd parted from their native home, 

From dear aid Erin's Isle, 
For a land that always welcomed 

Erin's offspring with a smile. 
'Twas tyrant laws that drove them 

Unto Canada's fair land, 
To be stricken down thereafter 

By fever's scourging hand. 

You watched them "Mother Erin," leave 

Your shores with saddened heart, 
Like thousands more before them, from 

You they were forced to part. 
And proved again your poet's words 

Your tear shall never cease, 
As well as those, your languid smile; 

It never shall increase. 

And they that gave them succor 

Are remembered still to-day; 
In their prayers, the Irish race 

For them, in silence pray 
Whilst round this noble Celtic cross, 

Each with uncovered head, 
Will murmur, as in Ireland, may 

The Heavens be their bed. 

Quebec, June aoth, 1909. DENIS J. RYAN. 

Page One Hundred and Thirty-Five - 



THE 



GROSSE-ISLE 



TRAGEDY 



Hoom* of 3relanb 

What fate are the looms of God weaving for poor Ireland and the long-suf- 
fering Irish race? 



Children of yesterday, 

Heirs of to-morrow, 
What are you weaving 

Labor and sorrow? 
Look to your looms again; 

Faster and faster 
Fly the great shuttles 

Prepared by the Master. 
Life is the loom, 
Room for it, room. 



Children of yesterday, 

Heirs of to-morrow, 
Lighten the labor 

And sweeten the sorrow. 
Now, while the shuttles fly 

Faster and faster 
Up and be at it 

At work for the Master. 
He stands at your loom, 
Room for Him, room. 



Children of yesterday, 

Heirs of to-morrow, 
Look at your fabric 
Of labor or sorrow, 
Seamy and dark 

With despair and disaster. 
Turn it and lo! 

The design of the Master! 
The Lord's at the loom, 
Room for Him, room. 

From "Ireland's Own." 

"My purpose before you is to disburden my soul of the conviction which I 
felt, even in the lazar-houses and fetid shipholds of Canada, that Providence would 
bring some mighty good out of all that suffering. Yes, I read that assurance in 
the sublime virtues which I witnessed. That alone enabled me not to curse the 
oppressor. It gave me hope for Ireland, but, above all, it made me rejoice for 
America. Since that time my feelings have assumed the form of this consoling 
truth, that the heart of a nation, tried by suffering unparalleled in duration and 
intensity, is destined for some great end." Mgr. O'Reilly in New York in 1852. 




Page One Hundred and Thirty-Six 



battle of Contents: 



AUTHOR'S NOTE 3 

AVANT-PROPOS 5 

The Ancient Order of Hibernians 9 

The National Memorial 11 

The Celebration at Grosse-Isle 13 

CHAPTER I. GROSSE-!SLE AND ITS HISTORY 17 

II. PRECURSORS OF THE TRAGEDY 22 

III. THE BLACK FORTY-SEVEN 20 

IV. THE FLIGHT OF THE GAEL THE IRISH EXODUS OF 1847 30 

V. WHY THE EXILES CAME TO CANADA 34 

VI. ON THE EMIGRANT SHIPS 35 

VII. ON THE ISLAND THE HORRORS OF GROSSE-!SLE 39 

VIII. CLOSING THE QUARANTINE 44 

IX. THE DEATH ROLL 45 

X. MOURNFUL FIGURES 50 

XI. REMONSTRANCES OF CLERGY AND PEOPLE 53 

XII. THE CANADIAN CLERGY , 57 

XIII. THE ORPHANS OF 1847 63 

XIV. MGR O'REILLY ON GROSSE ISLE 65 

XV. QUEBEC AND THE IRISH FAMINE 71 

XVI. THE GREAT MEMORIAL GATHERING 76 

The Notabilities Present 77 

The Requiem Mass 78 

Rev. Father Maguire's Sermon ... 79 

Mgr Bcgin's Exhortation 81 

The Monument Unveiled 83 

Chairman Foy's Address 83 

The Papal Delegate's Tribute 87 

The National President's Address 88 

Hon. Chas. Murphy's Speech 91 

Canada's Chief Justice *. . . . 95 

A French Canadian Voice 96 

A Gaelic Speech 97 

Notes on the Celebration 98 

APPENDIX 101 

The Ocean Plague 101 

Another Mile-Stone of Forty-Seven 117 

A Reproach and Its Removal 1 19 

A Survivor's Story Recalled 124 

The Slaughter Denounced , 125 

The Irish Potato Crop 126 

The Ship Fever at Montreal 128 

i A Scotchman's Narrative 131 

The Black Prophet 133 

We're Irish I We're Irish ! 134 

Grosse-Isle 135 

In Memoriam 135 

The Looms of Ireland 136 



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