Throughout the nineteenth century, Canada regularly received Irish immigrants who became a tolerated and important part of Canadian society. However, between 1845 and 1852, Ireland endured a dreadful famine which saw more than two million Irish paupers emigrate, with their destinations varying across the world. A large portion of Irish famine immigrants travelled to the comparatively empty British North American colony in Canada, passing almost entirely through Quebec. Canadians at first welcomed the idea of large numbers of immigrants to help expand the western frontier, but with a massive exodus of Irish paupers fleeing Ireland in 1847, what arrived in the ports of Quebec ended up terrifying the people of Canada. The deplorable condition of the immigrants strained the Canadian social institutions beyond their means, and shifted the view of Irish Canadians into a negative light. Although quarantined at Grosse Isle, and various other makeshift quarantine stations throughout the St. Lawrence River valley, the unexpectedly diseaseridden immigrants caused typhus, cholera, and dysentery to run rampant wherever they arrived, claiming the lives of thousands of Canadians, as well as many of their own. Societal conditions set in place by previous generations of Irish immigrants to Canada, which allowed them to be a welcomed part of Canadian communities, were broken by this new wave of Irish exiles, and caused public opinion to turn against the Irish immigrants. The betrayal of social norms caused a violent Protestant-Canadian nativist response that lasted for decades after their arrival.
Changing Attitudes toward Irish Canadians: The Impact of the 1847 Famine Influx in the Province of Canada.
Undergraduate Review, 16, 90-106.
Available at: https://vc.bridgew.edu/undergrad_rev/vol16/iss2/11
Articles published in The Undergraduate Review are the property of the individual contributors and may not be reprinted, reformatted, repurposed or duplicated, without the contributor’s consent.