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Canadians of Irish heritage were the fifth largest ethnic group in the country in 2001. Why did so many people leave Ireland for Canada? As with every group, something in particular made them arrive at the very important decision to move to Canada. As with every immigrant group, they hoped to make a better life here.
Two main waves of Irish immigrants moved to Canada between 1815 and 1850. The first wave arrived just after 1815. The second wave arrived during the Great Potato Famine (1846-1851). Irish immigrants settled all across Canada, but most chose Ontario. Irish families often settled in groups, and were later joined by friends and relatives from Ireland. Irish immigrants belonged to two distinct Christian groups: Catholic and Protestant. Because of their religious differences, they settled in different parts of the new land, and preserved different parts of their Irish culture. Like other newcomers, they often faced difficult conditions and had to work hard to build new lives.
Today, there are more than 3,800,000 Canadians who share some Irish heritage. Their ancestors began a journey of migration more than 200 years ago.
famine: extreme scarcity of food, which can cause starvation for many people