A Cross for the Irish who Perished on the St. Lawrence Shores

A Cross for the Irish who Perished on the St. Lawrence Shores


Kebeca1690 – DeviantArt

In 1909 they erected a monument, a cross for the Irish Immigrants, who perished of the plague on the shores of the St. Lawrence in 1847-1848. This particular page of Canada’s history dealing with that sad event is a black and terrible one. They were dark years, ones for all Ireland, as well as for those Irishmen who had come to Canada’s hospitable shores only to die horribly of plague, as the potato famine raged in Ireland. Irishmen left their native soil by shiploads hoping to find plenty and a more happy life in Canada. But the cholera or ship fever, or whatever the dread disease was called broke out, and the poor immigrants whose constitutions had been reduced by hunger and trouble at home, fell easy victims.

Death’s scythe mowed the poor people down by thousands both on shipboard and at the quarantine station at Grosse lsle, 27 miles below Quebec. They died literally by hundreds, and some were buried before they were even dead in a great trench on the Island. Terror stalked abroad; the story of the great plague of London was repeated on Canada’s shores. It was told that 12,000 men women and children were buried in one great last resting place. In those days men travelled in sailing vessels and the journey to Canada took three months, so it can be seen how easy it was for the seeds of the plague to sprout and grow in the packed and unsanitary vessels of those days.

The young children came through the plague generally speaking better than their parents. After the ravages had ceased, hundreds of orphans drew the sympathy and protection of the French settlers of Quebec, and that is why all through the lower part of the province in the 1920’s to 1930’s you would find O’Flahertys, Donovans, McCools, Flynns, and Gilhoolys who could not speak a word of English.

The powers to be decided that the grave of these Irish Immigrants, for it is one great grave, was to have a headstone. As the result of the activity of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, a heroic Celtic cross seven feet high was placed on a commanding spot on Grosse Isle and told of the terrible tragedy that was enacted at the quarantine station years ago.


 - IHli CKHKMOMKS. On fiunia, August U. the great...

Clipped from

  1. The Ottawa Journal,
  2. 19 Jul 1909, Mon,
  3. Page 4


File:Cimetiere de l'est Grosse Ile 2.jpgGrave, eastern cemetery, Grosse Isle, Quebec. “Heinrich Neuman, age 6 years, Ex. S.S. Palanza, Died dec. 20. 1912”






Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun andScreamin’ Mamas (USA)


The Norwegian Bride– Not Your Ordinary Bride

How Many Women Does it Take to Replace a Team of Horses?The Doukhobors

What Was Smiths Falls Perth and Port Elmsley like to Joseph and Jane Weekes?

What Did British Immigrants Spend When They First Came to Canada?

The Man Without a Country

Lanark County 101 — It Began with Rocks, Trees, and Swamps

Rock the Boat! Lanark County or Bust! Part 1

It Wasn’t the Sloop John B — Do’s and Don’t in an Immigrant Ship -Part 2

Riders on the Storm– Journey to Lanark County — Part 3

ROCKIN’ Cholera On the Trek to the New World — Part 4

Rolling down the Rapids –Journey to Lanark Part 5

About lindaseccaspina

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

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