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The Potato Famine, 1846-1851 (continued)
Quarantine stations at Partridge Island (Saint John, New Brunswick) and at Grosse-Île (Québec, Quebec) were overwhelmed by the arrival of thousands of poor and sick Irish immigrants. Of the nearly 100,000 immigrants who came through Grosse Île in 1847, the plague year, more than half were Irish. At least 5,000 died on the island. Many perished in the immigrant sheds that were their first temporary homes in their new land. Grosse Île is now a National Historic Site commemorating the Irish who landed there during the famine years. The Grosse Île website (www.pc.gc.ca/lhn-nhs/qc/grosseile/index_e.asp) maintained by Parks Canada contains many photographs and descriptions of the events of 1846-1851.
The Roman Catholic Church organized the settlement of thousands of newly-arrived Irish Catholics during the famine years. Many priests and nuns from Upper Canada and Lower Canada went to the quarantine stations and assisted the Famine Irish to settle in either province. Protestant clergy also played a large part in assisting the settlement of the newcomers. Many doctors and clergy died from disease on Grosse Île.
Thomas D'Arcy McGee, Father of Confederation
Thomas D'Arcy McGee was born in Ireland. When he came to Canada, he became a promoter of Canadian unity. His vision was to create a new country where people of different religious and ethnic backgrounds could live together in harmony. He particularly promoted peace and goodwill among the Irish Catholics and Irish Protestants who lived in Canada. Unfortunately, this proved to be difficult because many people brought their disagreements to their new country. Find out more about Thomas D'Arcy McGee on the ARCHIVED - Canadian Confederation website.