Twenty Skeletons Found 1936
There is some doubt as to the burial place of the Irish immigrants who died at Cornwall during the great Asiatic cholera epidemics of 1832 and 1834. Some records are to the effect that they were buried at Petite Pointe Maligne and that the grave have long since been obscured. Others state that the dead were properly burled in local cemeteries. It is a fact, however, that many of the immigrants who died aboard ship were buried at various points along the river, and with buc little ceremony. Only a few years ago, a shallow grave was uncovered near Woodlands during road-building operations. This was found to contain about twenty skeletons and It is highly probable that they were those of Irish folk who died on ships passing up the St. Lawrence.
At the beginning of June in 1832, the Carrick, a ship that had come over from Ireland, reached Quebec with a few feverish immigrants on board.
Three days later, cholera took its first victim.
The illness spread like wildfire all the way to Montreal and then to Upper Canada. It quickly became an epidemic that moved through the shanty neighbourhoods of the urban poor, which were breeding grounds for contagion. The lack of sewers and garbage collection contributed to water contamination. Soon the epidemic was out of control and hundreds died each day, mostly in the large towns.
On June 14, 1832, La Minerve newspaper verified the spread of cholera.
“14 June, 1832: Since Monday morning Montreal is in turmoil and the alarm is growing every minute. There is no longer doubt that cholera is present. We recommend that the public observe strictly the Regulations of the Board of Health.”
La Minerve tried to prevent panic from spreading, advising that:
“There is no use in becoming alarmed.
When the illness appears, one must see a doctor and follow his instructions. The apothecaries have the necessary remedies in stock and their prices are affordable to all pocketbooks.”
In reality, doctors were overwhelmed and powerless. They thought cholera was transmitted by fumes carried through the atmosphere. To purify the air, English officers tried firing off cannons and the Sanitary Office burned tar.
Alexander Hart, a Jewish merchant from Montreal, saw death all around him:
“None of us go into town anymore.
Many are moving into the country. Yesterday 34 corpses passed our house. Today, 23… not counting those in the old burial Ground and in the Catholic ground. 12 carts are employed by the Board of Health to carry away the dead who are interred without prayers.”
By the end of 1832, the epidemic had claimed 9,000 lives, more than half of them in Lower Canada. Some Canadians held England responsible for this misfortune, citing its emigration policy for negligence, if not malevolence.
In a letter to his cousin, Jean-Jacques Lartigue, the Bishop of Montreal, spoke of the Place d’Armes by-election and the cholera epidemic:
“The other subjects that seem to me most worthy of your attention at the present time are: the murder of our “Canadiens” on May 21st, which the governor has since officially condoned; and the invasion of our uncultivated land by British immigrants who threaten to drive us out of our country and reduce our “Canadien” population, year after year, by the spread of disease.”
This climate of death, fear and loathing helped kindle a political firestorm in Lower Canada. CBC- CLICK
Also read-ROCKIN’ Cholera On the Trek to the New World — Part 4
1,200 Died of Plague Which Hit City in 1847
The Cholera Epidemic of 1832
Mystery Skeleton Found in Cellar 1946
Digging a cellar in downtown Cornwall Lucien Mercier drove his pick into a hard object. Examination showed he had struck a skull, and further digging brought up the long-interred remains of a human body. Police were puzzled. There was no record of the location ever having been a cemetery and police records show no record of missing persons in the area for the last 50 years. Deputy Police Chief Wilfred Massom suggested the skeleton might be that of a soldier killed during the War of 1812-14.
Cornwall was one of the largest settlements in Upper Canada at the time that war was declared. It would emerge as an important garrison town, communications and supply post during the War of 1812. The population of Cornwall was several hundred at the time.
More Skeleton Stories from Cornwall