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Grosse Isle (Quebec) Emigrants

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Grosse Isle (Quebec) Emigrants

Gathered and Transcribed by Teena


Various Entries  

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— There is a small island in the St. Lawrence, about thirty miles below Quebec, called Grosse Isle. This has been made by government the Quarantine Station, at which all ships with foul bills of health are required to remain till a favourable report can be made: and although a large number of patients is frequently in the hospital at the same time, no chaplain is employed. The whole duty, therefore, often a most burdensome and responsible one, is thrown upon any Missionary whom the Bishop may be enabled to send to the spot. This year, so heavy was the list of sick, that an additional clergyman was thought necessary: but we prefer giving the statement in the Bishop's own words. Writing on the 26th of June, he says :

"On account of the overwhelming extent of the labours of this year at the Quarantine Station, in consequence of the swarms of miserable beings poured upon the shores of Canada from Ireland, I have found it absolutely indispensable to employ two clergymen at that Station, and, in fact, before I could send a second clergyman down, different clergymen of Quebec, or its immediate neighbourhood, went down, each for a few days at a time, to assist—and one of the two clergymen stationed there having come away sick, the same arrangement is still going on. I felt it right to set the example of taking a turn myself in this duty, and went down for a week. The scenes of wretchedness, disease, and death to be there witnessed, thickening day by day, surpass all description—and the time will not permit my attempting any details; suffice it to say, that when I left the station, there were, according to computation, about 1,700 sick upon the island, (every building which could be made in any way available, the two churches included, being turned into hospitals, together with a vast number of tents,) and about 800 afloat in the miserable holds of the ships. With the utmost exertion on the part of the authorities, it was a matter of impossibility to provide the necessary comforts and attendance for these poor sufferers. The daily amount of deaths was frightful. We had not, perhaps, above 300 Protestant sick out of this number, but so dispersed, ashore and afloat, and so intermingled with Romanists, sometimes two of different faith in one bed, that labour of attending to the magisterially was immense."  

Some legislative enactments for the further regulation of Emigrant ships have been passed by Great Britain, during the last session of Parliament; but it is much to be feared that they will prove quite inefficient. It is painful to observe the very unfavorable accounts from some of the Ports of the United States, as well as of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

As regards Canada the prospect is exceedingly gloomy, to judge from the conduct of the executive government in forbidding- the publication, or issue of any reports from the Quarantine Station, respecting the state of things there. Were not the trials of the wretched emigrant already sufficiently great, that he must "To such unsightly sufferings be debased?" The Press has boldly taken up the matter, and it is to be hoped that the appearance and repetition of such articles as the following will tend to the repeal of the obnoxious and cruel edict.  

The executive government have forbidden the transmission of any news or statements from the island, except, we suppose, to head quarters, that is, to themselves. This is a proceeding as arrogant as it is absurd and mischievous. Last year full reports were given to the public of the state of the island and the proceedings there, as well from official as from private sources. Why then interdict the publication this year, when more than ever a faithful return of the health and sickness prevailing at the quarantine station is most desirable ? If the prohibition be intended to prevent alarm, it is founded upon false premises, as, in the absence of authentic information, wild and exaggerated rumors obtain credence. The public have a right to be informed of what is passing at Grosse Isle."
— Kingston Chronicle, 17th June, 1848.  

extract from Annals of the Diocese of Quebec By Ernest Hawkins 1849 and  from- 

The Ocean Plague or a Voyage to Quebec in an Irish Emigrant Vessel by Robert Whyte Published 1848 by Coolidge and Wiley  

Widows and Orphans of 1847  

Monday Afternoon, August 9. 1847.
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, viz: — 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 last Friday, announcing that the Captain, Thomas BRIERLY, died on the 3d instant, and was buried on the same day. She was then fifty days out, and short of provisions, — about 20 of the passengers 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 soon as possible." —  

The Ship Washington from Liverpool, 9th of July, had arrived at the station 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 14th 1847.
Remaining on 14th               1386
Died 12th to 13th inst.,           41  

Deaths at the sheds, where the healthy passengers are landed, during the same period — 10.
"There are 1240 cases of fever, and 37 cases of small pox. Two men died whilst being landed from the Emigrant, and 162 cases were admitted into hospital from the same vessel."      

"On Saturday last, 30th October, the Lord Ashburton, from Liverpool, 13th 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."
— Quebec Mercury.    

The following advertisement is a specimen of many of a similar nature, that daily appeared in the newspapers; and requires no comment.
"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 brother, William Taylor, at this office."
— Montreal Transcript, September llth, 1847. "  

The ' Quebec Chronicle' having obtained permission to copy them from the official records, has commenced the publication of the names of all the unfortunates who have died in the hospital at Grosse Isle, with their ages and the names of the vessels in which they came to Canada, as well as the date of the decease. The 'Chronicle' deserves well of the community, for thus affording the relatives of the poor sufferers the means of knowing what has become of them."  
— Montreal Courier. "

The immigration commissioners report that 94 vessels have landed in the Province of New Brunswick, the present season, 15,269 passengers. The deaths at sea on board these vessels, were six hundred and sixty two."  

Ship Fever. — The British ship India, Gray, (late Thompson), arrived yesterday from Liverpool, after a passage of 57 days. Captain THOMPSON died of the ship fever on the 14th inst., (January, 1848) and during the passage 39 of the passengers died of the same disease. The chief officer of the ship, and a large number of the passengers are now sick. When the India left Liverpool she had two hundred and seventy passengers."
— New York Express.

The British Ship Viceroy, arrived at New Orleans on the 5th instant, with 286 immigrants. " Fourteen had died on the passage, and many others were very sick, and sent to Ihe Charity Hospital. The Orizaba,- which arrived from Liverpool on the 31st ult., had shipped 170; 24 of whom died, and most of the rest were sent to the Hospital."
— Boston Mail Jan. 19th, 1848  

— 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 (1847) , it appears that, of the 98,105 (of whom 60,000 were Irish) that were shipped for Quebec,

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

We regret to say that the Rev. C. J. MORRIS, recently returned from the station, is now seriously ill with Typhus Fever. The death of the last gentleman is recorded as follows:

"Died, this morning at the private hospital at Beauport, of typhus fever, the Rev. Charles J. MORRIS, A. M., missionary of the church of England, at Portneuf in this district. Mr. Morris contracted the disease which has thus proved fatal to him, in his ministrations to the sick at Grosse Isle. The funeral will take place in the Cathedral church, tomorrow afternoon, at 3 o'clock."

The Rev. Mr. ANDERSON also died, within a few days of the same period ; and that the mortality continued to a late part of the season, appears by the following, from the Boston Journal of December 1st. " We learn from Quebec that Dr's. PAINCHAUD and JACKSON, and seven or eight Nuns of the Hotel Dieu were sick with the ship fever. One of the Quebec physicians says that mortality among the physicians during the past season has been greater than it was during the Cholera." 

— 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 (1847) , it appears that, of the 98,105 (of whom 60,000 were Irish) that were shipped for Quebec,

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.  

In 1850 over 30,000 alien passengers arrived at the ports of Massachusetts, and an attempt was made to land persons discharged from British convict hulks lying at Bermuda. In Boston there have landed in three years about 90,000 emigrants, and in New York, during the same period, more than 600,000. Thus the floodgates are open. And what is the result ? The squalid and vicious who a short time since infested the lanes of London and Liverpool are at our side. Many of our streets wear a foreign aspect. Two thirds of the State paupers are from abroad. In the House of Industry sixty-five per cent are foreigners, and in the Lunatic Asylum one half of the subjects are from England and Ireland. In the State Prison at Charlestown, out of 2,477 convicts, 1,657, more than two to one, were aliens. And in the Police Report for Boston, dated January, 1852, out of 1,500 dram-shops, 1,010 are kept by the natives of other lands.

In a valuable pamphlet lately published by Rev. I E. Hale, on the subject of Irish Emigration, it is stated that from 1841 to 1850 inclusive, the British emigration to America included 1,522,600 persons,of whom 1,300,000 were Irish. The last year there were more than 300,000 in addition, and this year there is every reason to expect as large a number. This transfer of immense bodies of people," says the writer, " from one climate, government, and state of society to another wholly different, is the most remarkable social phenomenon of our lime, and that which requires most the attention of government and of men of philanthropy.''

extracts from THE CHRISTIAN EXAMINER 1852  

~ There is one beautiful feature in the Irish character connected with emigration which shines in charming contrast to the cooler and more calculating affection of either the Englishman or the Scot—I refer to the immense sums remitted by successful Irishmen for the purpose of bringing out their indigent relatives to participate in their prosperity. Since 1848 the amount sent to this country from America alone has been £9,937,000., about a million a year. It is beyond all human power to calculate the amount of misery which this prodigious fund has not only relieved, but absolutely annihilated.  

~But there is another feature in the emigration to the United States which an Englishman should not pass unnoticed. The first act of the Irish emigrant, when he finds himself safely settled on a foreign shore, is to bring over those dear to him to share the same comforts as himself—to bring them from the land of sorrow to the land of plenty—to repay some half-forgotten act of kindness—to add a little to the widow's store—to keep the fire lit and the pot boiling in some lone cabin in his native land. The amount of emigrant remittances is immense, yet the Commissioners state that their returns are incomplete, and from my own knowledge I can testify that such is the case.

extract from - Transactions of the National Association for the Promotion of Social Science  By National Association for the Promotion of Social Science 1863  

I wish, from my heart, those prejudiced Americans, whose visions of Irish scenery are taken from the shabby and poverty-stricken squads of Irish emigrants, who chequer your highways, could just visit old Ireland, and wander awhile through these scenes of diversified loveliness, which are spread out in such profusion and endless variety over the length and breadth of this lovely island. I would not, indeed, promise them those scenes of majesty and overpowering grandeur, with which they have been so familiar in America; though there are many spots and places in Ireland not by any means wanting in these qualities; but I should have no fear, in spite of all their prejudices, that they would be compelled to acknowledge that the sweep of Ireland's encircling horizon, folds in its ample embrace a greater variety of exquisite, rich, and beautiful scenery, than can be found within the same compass anywhere upon the entire continent of America; nor should I have any misgivings of a respectful assent to the sentiment of a late writer, who considers Ireland,  

"The fairest island that ever heaved
its green bosom above the surface of the ocean;"

or the happier exclamation of one of her own poets:—
"First flower of the earth, and first gem of the sea!"

On the return of one of these travelers from such a tour, I should deem it quite as likely he would turn with cold contempt from a glowing delineation of the privileges of an American citizen, as that he should cast a look of cold surprise on the enthusiastic descriptions of Ireland's poets, or the wild and mournful breathings of many of her exiled children.

Do you recollect the piece of poetry I once read you, which was found on the corpse of an Irish emigrant ? Perhaps you have forgotten the circumstance. Poor fellow, he had only been a few weeks in America, nor had he, I believe, earned his first shilling in the  land on which he had placed his hopes of making a fortune, when he fell overboard, from the steamer, "Swan" on Lake St. Louis, and was drowned. He was afterwards found on its lonely shores, and decently interred by the hand of strangers. The following lines were found in his pocket; whether they have ever met the eyes of those he left behind I know not:—  

"When far from the village that skirts the dark ocean, Or toss'd by the gale o'er the wide spreading sea, It will cheer the sad moments and banish emotion, To spend but one thought, dearest Erin, on thee.

And when, through Columbia's deep forests I wander, Where streams in their deepest worn channels meander,

I'll think of the hills that are fairer and grander— The beautiful hills of sweet Erin the green.  

Compell'd by oppression my home to abandon,
To search for relief on some happier shore,
Ere long Peace and Freedom's fair soil I shall stand on,
Where Washington caused the proud foe to give o'er.
Adieu, lovely spot, where young fancy delighted,
And innocent pleasures were fondly united;
The hopes I once cherish'd are now almost blighted,

With the maid of my heart, whom I fondly admire,
In dreams and in fancy my spirit shall dwell;
But reflection, as oft from the world I retire,
Will bring to my memory our last sad farewell.
And you, my dear brethren, in friendship cemented,
May your cause to all nations be fairly presented,
And the black name of calumny, long since invented,
No more brand the sons of sweet Erin the green."

I know you will retort, "Why then do the people of Ireland emigrate? Why does she send us such amazing numbers of ragged and unhappy beings? Are you not aware, that no nation under heaven casts upon our shores such vast masses of ignorance and poverty?" I admit it all; and perhaps there is no nation under heaven that has had such a variety of uncontrollable difficulties thrown in the way of her prosperity as unhappy Ireland. I cannot, however, in this letter, enter into the causes, moral, religious, and political, which have brought about such a sad state of things.
I fear I have digressed most unpardonably; but allow me to say, although Ireland exports to America much that injures her national character, she sends out among her emigrants those that would do honour to any of the nations of the earth, in personal appearance, mind, manners, and education; but she still retains amidst her vales and mountains, the wealth and the flower of her native population

extract from-Letters on Various Subjects By the Rev. James Caughey 1 

   1847- It appears by the above that the Avon, in 552 passengers, had 246 deaths ; and the Virginius:, in 476 passengers, had 267 deaths.  

In 1847, the earliest arrival of an emigrant ship at Quebec, was on the 8th of May, and the latest on the 8th of November. The shortest passage was 22 days, and the longest passage of an emigrant ship was 87 days, the average passage being 40 days.

The deaths on the passage were 5282, and, in quarantine, they were 3389; the total deaths, previous to arrival at Quebec, being 8671. The number of emigrants landed at Quebec was 90,150; deaths previous to arrival at Quebec, 8671 ; births on the passage, 172; total, 98,993. This number of persons crossed in 442 ships, being at the average of 223 passengers for each ship.

Of the 90,150 emigrants, 696 were cabin passengers. Among the deaths on the passage, there were 11 deaths in child-birth.

extract from - The Edinburgh Medical and Surgical Journal 


Births & Baptisms at Grosse-Île all Immigrants from Tyrone

Name:  Francess CANEVIN
Date of birth: 1834-06-11 Date of Baptism: 1834-07-23
Parents:  Oliver and Catherine Canevin,
Religion: Catholique
Sex: M
Godfather and Godmother:Joseph REID and Margaret MCDOWALL
Priest: P  O'DWYER  

Name: Robert HAZELTINE
Date of birth: 1846-09-04 Date of Baptism: 1847-06-10
Parents: William and Eliza BURNS HAZELTINE
Religion: Protestant
Sex: M
Priest: Charles FOREST  

Name:  Marie Anne MCGOVIN
Date of birth: 1842-06-04 Date of Baptism:  1842-06-12
Parents: Richard McGovin and Anne DOVIN
Religion: Catholique
Sex: F
Date of birth: 1842-06-04
Godfather and Godmother:
Jean REGNAY and Catherine BURNS
Priest: Joseph Octave FORTIER  

Deaths Burials at Grosse-Île  

Date of death: 1847-06-06
Category:  Immigrant
Parents: William Bailley (Journalier) and Mary COUSINS Bailley
Religion: Protestante
Age: 3 Years
Sex: F
Origin: Irlande, comté Tyrone
Witnesses: William Bailey, (Père) (Journalier), Lanty GIBSON
Priest: Charles Forest

Name of ship: Christiana (Bark)  

Name:  Robert BELSHER
Date of Death: 1841-07-10 date of burial 1841-07-11
Category:  Immigrant
Parents: Robert Belsher, (Journalier) and Letitia Belsher,
Religion: Protestante
Age: 1 Year
Sex: M
Origin: Irlande, comté Tyrone
Witnesses: Christopher SPARLING, John MCKEGAN,
Priest: William Beauclerk ROBINSON  

Name: William BLANK
Date of Death: 1847-06-28 Date of burials: 1847-06-28
Category:  Immigrant
Religion: Protestante
Age: 24 Years
Sex: M
Origin: Irlande, comté Tyrone
Witnesses: Vincent ANDREWS, Samuel PALMER
Priest: George MARTIN  

Name:  Eleanor Sloame BROWN
Date of Death: 1847-06-01 Date of burial: 1847-06-02
Category:  Immigrant
Parents: Thomas Brown (Fermier) and Eleanor SLOAME Brown
Religion: Protestante
Age: 16  Years
Sex: F
Origin: Irlande, comté Tyrone
Witnesses: Thomas Brown, (Père) (Fermier), Andrew WOODSIDE
Priest: Charles FOREST

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