The Great Famine in Ireland
Migration to Canada, 1845-1854
also known now as "The Great Hunger" or 'An Gorta Mór’
Music: "Danny Boy", also known as "The Londonderry Air"
June 13, 2017:
Our new Facebook Group, Irish Famine Migration to Canada, 1846-1854 is now up and running at https://www.facebook.com/groups/132388820646009/.
It will examine the Irish migration to two famine gateways to Canada: through the Quarantine Stations at Grosse Isle, Quebec and also through Partridge Island /
Hospital Island at Saint John and St. Andrews, New Brunswick. We will follow the emigrants of Black '47 from various counties in Ireland to several
localities in Upper Canada (Ontario), Lower Canada (Quebec) and New Brunswick. This Facebook group will be based on ongoing famine research which
is centred at the web site "Bytown or Bust" in Ottawa, Canada. It can be searched, one at a time, for Irish Surnames, Irish Counties
and geographic areas in Central and Eastern Canada by using the dedicated Google Search Engine at the bottom of each web page.
New material will be added to the Facebook Group above, on a more or less daily basis.
... Allan Lewis, Ottawa, Canada
IRELAND, 1848 OTTAWA, CANADA, 1848
Ottawa Citizen - Oct 29, 1927
The project on this web page will consider the Great Irish Famine (Black '47) and its effects on the Ottawa, Canada area and on
the Saint John, New Brunswick area between 1845 and 1854.
The project is in an early stage but the following is a rough outline. My plan is to first look at emigration from four counties in Ireland:
Armagh, Wicklow, Tipperary and Limerick / Kerry to four localities here in the Ottawa, Canada area: Gloucester Township, Westport, Ontario,
Martindale, Quebec and western Renfrew County, all areas which are within 100 km. or 60 miles of Canada's Capital City.
I will spend the summer of 2017 adding material to it. This was the greatest tragedy in 19th century Europe and Ireland was by far
the country most affected.
My preliminary work reveals that, of the thousands of Irish Emigrants who came to North America and who survived the trans-Atlantic voyage,
through the quarantine stations at Grosse Isle and Montreal, Quebec, one positive fact emerges: Most of the famine voyage survivors were
greatly assisted by earlier pre-famine settlers who had been in North American communtiies for at least 20 years. These communities of local
friends, churches and governments helped the newcomers to quickly and successfully integrate into North American society.
Here is a map showing the receiving areas of famine emigrants near the City of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada (called "Bytown" until 1855). Thousands of
Irish famine immigrants came here between 1845 and 1854, many of the new arrivals were assisted for their voyages by landlords in Ireland
who wished to decrease the population of their estates by sending the most hard-hit persons of the population to North America. Also, from the
Canadian side of the Atlantic Ocean, earlier Irish settlers were able to financially assist neighbours, relatives and fellow countrymen from
Ireland to reach Canada. This was an example of traditional Irish family life and hospitality towards friends and neighbours. Some of our work
regarding the famine emigrants to Saint John, New Brunswick will be added to our page for early settlers to the Ottawa area from New Brunswick.
... Allan Lewis, Ottawa, Canada
E-mail Allan Lewis, Taylor Kennedy and Michael Daley
The Coffin Ship Elizabeth and Sarah sailed from the port of Killala in County Mayo, Ireland in 1846. Many of her
passengers settled in the Ottawa, Canada area.
Excerpt from "An Gorta Mor i gCill Alaidhe" (The Great Famine in Killala)
by Patricia Fitzgerald and Olive Kennedy (1996)
"One notorious 'coffin ship' was the Elizabeth and Sarah which sailed from
Killala, County Mayo in July 1846 (sic). She was a 74 year old barque of 330 tons
built on the Tyne for the Tyne/Baltic trade and her Captain was A. Simpson. It is
most likely to have been a 'speculative' venture got up by local
'entrepeneurs'. Her passenger list was certified in Killala as 212 but she
carried 276 in this journey. There were only 36 berths and 4 of these were
taken by the crew. Inadequate water supplies were carried in leaky tanks
and no food was provided... a letter of protest was written by one of the
passengers to the Montreal Herald:
'Sir - The sufferings which we have undergone in our late voyage across the
Atlantic and our desire to save others from similar treatment, induces us
to address this letter to you... Hugh Leighton, Ship Broker of Sligo, Hugh
Simpson, his clerk and John Reilly of Belmullet... used every means in
their power to induce us to embark at Killala (County Mayo) on board the Elizabeth and
Sarah whereof A. Simpson was master...which would sail on the 1st of May
for this port (Montréal)... finally on 26th of May we weighed anchor, and
bid adieu to our native land. And now, Sir, commences a tale of misery and
suffering which we hope to God none of our fellow mortals may ever
experience... two quarts of water was all that was allowed to each
passenger; nor was bread or oatmeal ever served out to us... After having
being out twenty one days, the master informed us that we were on the Banks
of Newfoundland; whereupon many of the passengers wasted their provisions
believing that they were close to port; we did not reach Newfoundland until
twenty four days after this... the mate, Jeremiah Tindel (the Captain being
sick and unable to attend to his duties) ran us ashore on the Island of
St. Peter (St. Pierre and Miquelon)... We were then in a most deplorable state, living on short
allowance and many of us without any; our pittance of water was both gluey
and putrid; disease and pestilence broke out amongst us and carried off
many of our fellow passengers in its iron grasp... we succeeded in getting
off the reef; our Captain... now breathed his last, and several more of the
passengers likewise yielded up their souls to Him who had created them.
Their bodies were, of course, immediately committed to the deep; but, the
mate, as if to add to our miseries, notwithstanding our requests to the
contrary, persisted in keeping the body of the Captain. For thirteen long
days... the body lay upon the quarterdeck in a most horrid state of
decomposition, thereby engendering the pestilence among us to a fearful
extent, insomuch that twenty two souls had by this time perished... On the
72nd day of our departure from Killala, County Mayo, we dropped anchor at Grosse Isle,
where we were kindly and hospitably treated by Dr. Douglas, the Medical
Superintendent, as also by Mr. Cullingford, who was in charge of the sick;
here seven more of our fellow passengers died and many still remain in a
very precarious state...
(Signed on behalf of fellow passengers)
John LAVAL, (LAVELL)late of the Parish of Kilmore (went to Buckingham and to Mayo, Quebec ... Al)
John STEPHENS, late of the Parish of Westport, County Mayo, Ireland - Protestant (see Protestant Churches)
for some Protestant famine burials in 1847.
James JOYCE, late of the Parish of Laumore (to March Township, now part of the City of Ottawa, by 1848)
(all from County Mayo, Ireland)
Quebec, 22nd August 1846'."
And here is James JOYCE from March Township getting married in Bytown (Notre Dame Cathedral).
29 Aug 1848
After three publications of banns, marriage of James Joyce of March Township, parish of Bytown, adult son of Michael Joyce and Honorah Melia / Maley,
to Bridget Duffy of The same place, adult daughter of Francis Duffy and Mary Simmons
Witnesses: Patrick Duffy & Margaret Day
There was an investigation into the terrible conditions aboard the coffin ship Sarah and Elizabeth when it
arrived at Grosse Isle in 1846. Here is an excerpt from a government document - correspondence between the British
parliament and the government in Lower Canada. This ship had been used to transport convicts from England to Australia
during the 1830's and was second ship to bring cholera victims to Gross Isle in 1834. Some of its passengers brought
cholera to Ottawa in 1834. Source: Papers Relative to Emigration to the British Provinces
in North America, page 9.
(Note to me: Downloaded this document as emigrationtobritishprovinces1846govtdoc.pdf to laptop and to tablet ... Al)
Six thousand famine victims died in the sheds in Montréal during 1847. Here is a map from the Archives of the Grey Nuns in Montréal. This map
is from the article "A Hidden Holocaust" by Pádraic Ó Laughin which appears in the book The Untold Story: The Irish in Canada, page 91.
There appears to be twenty-four sheds shown on the map, along the St. Lawrence River waterfront. Can anyone tell me where the Black Rock would be
today on this map? Thanks to Clare Whitney who replied to my question: The Black Rock is right at the entrance to "Victoria Bridge", over which the
projected railway on the map now crosses the St. Lawrence river from Montréal to St. Lambert on the south shore. The entrance to the bridge is right
next to the fever sheds on the map. ... Clare Whitney.
An Irish Heart - How a Small Immigrant Community Shaped Canada, by Sharon Doyle Driedger, published by Harper Collins, 2010, Toronto,
ISBN 978-0-00-200784-9 ... This book documents the Griffintown neighbourhood in Montreal, Canada. A very good reference.
Charles McKiernan, ("Joe Beef"), was a great common man and philanthropist on the waterfront in Montreal.
See newspaper article from the Montreal Gazette.
Here is a wonderful painting of the sheds in Montreal. This painting on the left was shared to the
Montreal Irish Monument Park Foundation Facebook Group
by Mr. Donovan King. Also, the photo on the right, from the McCord Museum, was shared by Martin Dozois.
Mr. Michael Collins ran consecutive daily marathons from Grosse Isle, Quebec to Toronto, Ontario and has written a book about his motives and
experiences. Read some information here.
And thanks to Martin Dozois for adding the location of the "Black Rock" to the following map. Martin also did a nice job of building a montage of
the evolving area surrounding the Black Rock.
And here is the montage by Martin Dozois showing the evolution, over time, of the area of the Grey Nun's location in Montréal:
Here is an article from the Great Hunger Institute at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut, USA:
Saving the Famine Irish: The Grey Nuns and the Great Hunger
Thanks to Fergus V. Keyes for this aerial photo of the green space proposal
around the Irish cultural area in Montreal
For current information regarding the project in Montréal to add green space to this important area, see the facebook group
Montreal Irish Monument Park Memorial.
And here is a descriptive summary of the aims and progress of the Black Rock Project in Montreal,
posted to the Montreal Irish Monument Park Foundation Facebook Group by Fergus V. Keyes.
Thomas D'Arcy McGee was an influential Irishman at the time of the Great Famine, Black '47. He was a leader of "Young Ireland" whose
leaders were arrested in 1848, except for McGee, who happened to be in Scotland at the time. The leaders were all exiled to North America
as was McGee when he returned to Ireland. He made his way from Boston, New York and Buffalo before settling in Montreal where he became a
member of parliament for the government, situated in Montreal at the time. He soon became a father of Canadian Confederation as an MP in Ottawa.
He was assassinated on Sparks Street in Ottawa in 1868.
McGee won the ear of the Canadian House of Assembly, and later,
for so short a time, the first Dominion Parliament. In McGee,
there blended happily a statesman and an artist of language,
the statesman always predominant because the native exuberance
of the Celt was in him disciplined by the reading and reflection
of a patient autodidact. ¥ith little formal education, this
silver-tongued Irishman had that which much education cannot
ensure, the instinct for the possible that is said to be the
master-key to political achievement, and is more often an
English than an Irish characteristic. To carry the message of
a golden mean to the Irish of North America, and specifically
of Canada, was the mission for which McGee at last gave his
life. The conservative Young Irelander of 1848, who objected
to armed revolt not as treason against the law but as treason
against common sense, had already sown among the "physical
force" wing of the rebels the seeds of a hatred which pursued
him throughout his career in North America and brought him to
an untimely death in Ottawa, twenty years later.
Source: THE IRISH MIGRATION TO MONTREAL, 1847 - 1867, M.A Thesis submitted to McGill University,
by George Rex Crowley Keep in 1948, page 98.
Emigration from County Mayo, Ireland to Canada during the Great Famine
More info about connections between County Mayo, Ireland and the Ottawa, Canada area.
The Role of the Sisters of Charity (The Grey Nuns)
Here is a record of the death of young Mary Cunningham from the Sisters of Charity files (the Grey Nuns of the Cross) and also Mary's death registration
at Notre Dame Cathedral on Sussex Drive in downtown Bytown (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada), three days later -
Keywords: Dr. Edward Van Cortland, Sister Elizabeth Bruyere
June 8, 1847
Burial of Mary Cunningham who died today at the General Hospital of Bytown
P.A.A. Telmon, P.O.M., Source: Drouin Records at ancestry.ca
Here is a large .pdf file (113 pages) about the Typhus epidemic of 1847 and the role of the Grey Nuns in health care.
This article is from the National University of Ireland, Galway.
Workhouses during the Famine in Ireland
Some of the female inmates from the Mountbellew workhouse in County Galway were sent to Canada -
and some of them came to our region: Belleville, Pembroke and Bytown (the City of Ottawa),
Here is a terrific article by Gerard Doran describing this process. It is from the new book Women and the Great Hunger, edited by Dr. Christine Kinealy,
Jason King and Ciaran Reilly, pages 109-121.
June 3, 2017:
The Quinn family had been forced to emigrate along with 1,490 tenants from Strokestown Park estate in May 1847.
“Remember your soul and your liberty”, declared James Quinn, a forty-five year old Irish emigrant from Lissonuffy on the Denis Mahon
estate in County Roscommon, to his two young sons Patrick (12) and Thomas (6), as he lay dying in the quarantine station on Grosse Isle,
Quebec, in late August, 1847. Here is a .pdf list of emigrants who came to North America from the Mahon Estate.
Some of these immigrants came to the Ottawa, Canada area (Mary Doherty to Pontiac County / Templeton, Michael Devine to Brudenell, Renfrew County).
This list is being put together by Dr. Mark McGowan from the University of Toronto.
Why the forgotten Irish women who suffered and shaped events during the Famine have been ignored. An interesting article by Christine Kinealy
Source: The Irish Post, April 14, 2017.
Hundreds of children were sent from Workhouses, established in 1838 by the Poor Law Union Act, all over Ireland, to Canada. While we are in County Galway,
here is an example from the management of the Clifden Poor Law Union, Minute Book (1852).
These minutes are an axample of the chaos which existed in the workhouses as the overseers tried to manage the administration, as late as 1852.
We will try and follow some of the young inmates who were sent to the Ottawa, Canada area. These were mostly young women and girls who were not
expeted to ever get meaningful employment in Ireland but who were able to fill a strong labour market demand for domestic servants here.
Resolved that the Committee to meet on Saturday the 31st inst be requested to draw up a full statement of the hopeless embarrassment
of this Union, point out the utter impossibility of the rate at present in course of collection being more than sufficient to meet the
current expenses of the House and the utter ruin that would be caused by an attempt to increase the local taxation and to prepare a resolution
requesting the Commissioners to bring the unfortunate and hopeless state of this Union before government in the hope that some necessary relief
may be devised. (28 January 1852, p13). Source: Galway County Council Arichies, link above.
Source of drawing below: This drawing is in the waiting room of the Sisters of Charity Archives, Ottawa, Ontario
In the summer of 1847, Bytown / Ottawa, in Ontario, Canada, became a smaller version of Grosse Isle, Quebec, the
quarantine station where famine immigrants were treated for the dreaded Typhus disease. Thousands of the immigrants
died in Quebec City, Montréal and Bytown. As in Quebec City and Montréal, thousands of orphans were cared for or adopted by
French Canadien families. The document below shows an original record which documents the first child
taken in and cared for by the family of Pierre Lavallee here in Bytown.
Pierre Lavallee and his wife buried a child of their own in 1846 at Notre Dame Cathedral.
Here is the record from the Drouin Collection at ancestry.ca:
17 Aug 1846
Funeral service for Albert Lavallee who died the day before yesterday, aged 1 yr., son of Pierre Lavallee and
Victoire Chouinard (sp?)
Witnesses: Philibert Bastien (a church warden) and Joseph Major.
The next summer, a twelve year old child of Pierre and Victoire died. Was this twelve year old daughter one of their
original family or was she one of the Irish orphans? Here is the record:
26 Aug 1847
Funeral service for Adee Lavalee who died yesterday, aged 12 yrs., daughter of Pierre Lavallee
Witnesses: Philibert Bastien and Leger Grison
"Hello! My name is Shirley-Ann. I was born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. My
parents were Franklyn LANE and Doris Hale LANE. My grandfather
was Franklyn Lane, Born in 1880 (one of Catherine and Gideon's 12 children).
My grandfather died in 1956 in Montreal. My cousins, Pauline and Louise,
visited me recently. Their father , Cecil, and my dad were brothers. (Cecil
was the eldest of three boys.) Louise told me that Catherine and Nelson Leveille
were born in Ireland. Their parents died of "the plague" (typhus) enroute to Canada from
Ireland. The children were subsequently adopted by a French Canadian family.
Their Irish name was lost...at least, Uncle Cecil did not know it. I wonder if
you know it. I was unaware of this fact until Louise informed me."
Source: Our Gideon Lane family web page.
Source for next image: The Kerry Chain, The Limerick Link, By Carol Bennett McQuaig, page 15
Keyword: Mount St. Patrick (The Lane family are shown as pioneers on the memorial on that page).
Irish Famine Orphan siblings Patrick (12) and Thomas QUINN(6) and Daniel (12) and Catherine TIGHE (9)
Source: The Irish Famine Archive at the National Museum, Galway.
Michael Leonard was man who came from County Sligo, Ireland, with his family to join his sister here
in 1846 in Osgoode Township, (now part of the City of Ottawa, Canada). Note: Some of the famine emigrants
lived in County Sligo, on Lord Sligo's land in County Sligo but others came from County Mayo where the Marquis / Marquess of Sligo had a large
estate at Westport in County Mayo. Here is a brief explanation, from the book Women and the Great Hunger, page 193:
Lord Palmerston and the Irish Famine Emigration. Available at www.jstor.org, paper by
Tyler Anbinder, in The Historical Journal, Vol. 44, No. 2 (June, 2001), pp. 441-469, Cambridge University Press, Pages: 29
Here are several paragraphs from the paper noted immediately above:
Another interesting article: "The Regional Pattern of Emigration during the Great Irish Famine, 1846-51" by S. H. Cousens, PhD.,
on my bookshelf at http://www/jstor.org - Free to Join -
Transactions and Papers (Institute of British Geographers), No. 28 (1960), pp. 119-134. (have hard copy of this article ... Al)
Added another paper - this one is by Charles Stewart Parnell and contains good information about the Land League: (post-famine),
The Irish Land Question, Author: Charles Stewart Parnell, Source: The North American Review, Vol. 130, No. 281 (Apr., 1880), pp. 388-406,
Published by: University of Northern Iowa, Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25100849 (need to sign in to jstor.org - printed this article)
Here is the text describing the situation and number of Irish orphan children at the hospital in Quebec City in 1847 and 1848.
Source: Grosse Isle - Gateway to Canada, 1832-1937, by Marianna O'Gallagher, page 117.
Thanks to Carmen Rochon for sending along this link to famine orphans at Grosse Isle.
It gives the names, ages of the children, and, if available the names of parents, adoptive parents (many French Canadiens) and name of the ship on which
the children came to Quebec.
And here is a terrific M.A. Thesis by Peter Douglas Murphy: Poor, "Ignorant Children": "A Great Resource," The Saint John Emigrant Orphan Asylum Admittance Ledger in Context.
A paper which contains a wealth of information and analysis regarding the pre-famine and famine Irish migrations to Saint John, New Brunswick.
Here is another great book by Peter Murphy: SOURCE: Peter D. Murphy, Whence They Came, Irish Origins from pre 1900 New Brunswick Death Notices (2010),
image reprint CD, (Milton, Ontario: Global Heritage Press, 2010), available as a download from www.globalgenealogy.com.
The city of Kingston, Ontario also received many thousands of famine immigrants, sent from Montreal. Here is a photograph of the plaque beside
the waterfront in Kingston (St. Mary's Church). This photograph is from the Facebook page of Tony O'Loughlin:
There were heroes and villains during the Irish famine tradegy. Here is one individual who refused to convey famine immigrants
from Lachine (Montreal) to Bytown (Ottawa) via the Ottawa River in 1847 due to fear of contracting Typhus.
Map Source below, right: Ottawa Waterway: Gateway to a Continent, by Robert Legget, page 140
The town of Hawkesbury is in West Plantagenet Township. It became an important shipyard for building steamboats
on the Ottawa River.
At times, the transportation of famine emigrants from Montreal to Ottawa was more reliable by going via the St. Lawrence to Prescott and then
the pasengers could transfer to the stage coach which ran from Prescott directly to the neighbourhood of the Parliament Buildings downtown.
The following image shows the names of some travellers from Montreal to Prescott to Bytown who avoided the Ottawa River route:
Source: Names of Emigrants, From the 1845-1847 Records of James Allison, Emigrant Agent at Montreal
By The Irish Research Group, Ottawa Branch, Ontario Genealogical Society
Originally published by Ottawa Branch, Ontario Genealogical Society, 1994 as publication number 94-2
This latest edition published by Global Heritage Press, Ottawa, 2017
A major destination for the famine immigrants was Kingston, Ontario which could be reached by either the Ottawa River or by the St. Lawrence River.
Source for the text below is The Great Migration, the Atlantic Crossing by Sailing Ship, 1770-1860, by Edwin C. Guillet, University of Toronto Press,
ISBN 0-8020-6016-1, 1963. The Rideau Canal from Bytown to Kingston was completed in 1832.
And here is an O'Grady family of three orphan children, aged 1 (Alicia died), aged 8 (Bridget) and 7 (Patrick).
They are being sent to an uncle named Denis McGuire / McGuire) in Bytown, now Ottawa. The McGuires and O'Gradys had been
settled in Bytown since 1829. The Grady family of 6 brothers came from Nenagh, County Tipperary and signed the
McCabe List of 1829 (ML#70). See the O'Grady family from Tipperary to Nepean Township.
Source: Grosse Isle - Gateway to Canada (above) page 142.
During the Great Hunger (Black '47), many families were sent from Grosse Isle, Quebec to Montreal and then on to
local communities in Upper Canada, which were either on a canal system or where industrialization was taking place and jobs were
Here is a map showing the immediate area surrounding Bytown in Upper Canada (Ontario) to which many of the famine immigrants came.
On the map, Townships are shown in Capital letters while towns and villages are shown in lower case letters.
In Smiths Falls,
there was an already established Irish community, some had been workers on the Rideau Canal twenty years earlier. One of them was Bartholomew Dignan who
came from County Leitrin before 1830. One of the towns in the Ottawa Valley which received some famine immigrants was Smiths Falls.
Some stayed here and others moved on to nearby townships in Lanark and Renfrew Townhip. Here are names of some folks who came from Montreal to Smiths Falls:
James Ferguson, William Devlin, Mary Foster, Thomas Coady, James Canby (sp?) and Elizabeth Corbett. All of these folks came with their families.
Source: Names of Emigrants from the 1845-1847 records of James Allison, Emigrant Agent at Montreal, 1994, ISBN 1-55116-72-8.
More emigrants came to Perth, Ontario and to Cornwall, Ontario, between 1846 and 1848.
A large also number went to Brockville, Ontario where some of them crossed over into Upper New York State, USA.
Here is a link to a web site containing the names of 12,000+ mostly Irish, who are buried in the old cemetery at Troy and Albany, New York, USA.
Many of these interments had crossed the St. Lawrence from Upper Canada on their way the the Republic, south of Canada. Some had previous
connetions with the early settlers there who had worked on the Erie Canal.
Two families went to Pakenham, Ontario and many went to Kingston, Ontario at the junction of the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario..
A few families went to the village of Merrickville on the Rideau Canal system. In addition to the famine immigrants
who went to Hastings County from the Coolattin Estate in County Wickow, many also went from Montreal to Belleville, Ontario. See list of names
and a map of Belleville on our Hastings County web page under date of April 2, 2017.
May 7, 2017:
Here is a list of immigrants who were sent to Cobourg and Port Hope along the North Shore of Lake Ontario
between Belleville and Toronto. Also many immigrants were sent to Toronto, Hamilton and Niagara District.
Here is a terrific paper about the history of the St. Lawrence River Canals by Mr. James Gilmore.
While researching the dispersal of the immigrants to Upper Canada during 1846-1848 from Montreal, I noticed that there was a disproportionate number who
travelled from Montreal to Williamsburgh, on the St. Lawrence River, between Cornwall and Brockville. What was going on in Williamsburg that
would warrant hundreds of immigrants being sent there? The answer is that the Williamsburgh Canal was being built there at a time when hundreds of
Irish labourers were needed to construct this canal. The paper mentioned above by James Gilmore is full of information about the canal construction
in the 1840's. The Wiliamsburgh Canal is 7.5 miles long and contains three locks. It was begun in 1846. Here is some background material
and a list of famine immigrants who went to Williamsburgh, Upper Canada, west of Montreal.
Here is a map showing some of the destinations along the St. Lawrence River where the immigrants from the famine sheds in Montreal were
sent, 1846-47. The Williamsburg Canals were begun in 1846 and many of the newcomers were sent from there to Ottawa / Bytown when the canal
work was completed. The picture on the right shows a ship passing through the lock at on the Williamsburgh Canal - this narrow canal,
seven miles long, was constructed to allow the steamships to avoid the shoals and islands in that part of the St. Lawrence River.
This stretch of the river was flooded by the construction of the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1959.
On the map below, we can also see the locks and canals along the Ottawa River. Some of the famine settlers joined earlier established
Irish communities such as that at Grenville, Quebec, along both sides of the Ottawa River
Here is a fairly large ship passing through a lock on the Williamsburg Canal. There is also a ship running the rapids in the main section
of the St. Lawrence River. This was possible only during high water conditions. The island in the middle of the River was flooded over
by the 1959 Seaway Construction.
Translation of the image shown below
Names of Irish Orphans admitted in 1847, the majority of whom lost their parents in our hospital or while travelling
from Grosse Isle. Children taken into the care of Pierre Lavallee. The first child is two-year old Martin Shay (Shea).
Document Source: The Archives of the Sisters of Charity (the Grey Nuns) who arrived in Bytown in 1845 and who immediately
built a hospital which was later to become the Ottawa General Hospital. The second child listed is 3 year old Mary McVeigh (McVey),
who was admitted to the hospital and was recovered enough to be discharged and returned to her father.
Note to me: Check out this microfilm reel at the City of Ottawa Archives:
Les Soeurs de la Charite, Dites Soeurs Grises de Bytown, 1855-1886, Malades et pauvres secourus et visites, #C25, 365 pages
To do research on the famine in Ireland, we first need a good map of the island / country as it was at the time.
Here is a link to a detailed map which is a reproduction of a widely-distributed black and white map showing Ireland in 1848.
The map shows all 32 counties, all four provinces and all of the major cities and towns. Also, we can see many of
the seaports from which many of the famine emigrants embarked to get their destination -- Canada.
This map appears in many books, for example, The Great Hunger, Ireland, 1845-1849, by Cecil Woodham-Smith, page 13.
You will have to scroll down and pan across the map -- it is large and contains a lot of detail.
Books and Research Articles
The Great Hunger: Ireland 1845-49, by Cecil Woodham-Smith, 1962
Hardcover, Hamish Hamilton edition, also in Paperback from Penguin Books, no ISBN.
Ireland’s Great Famine: An Overview, by Cormac Ó Gráda, CENTRE FOR ECONOMIC RESEARCH, University College Dublin, WP04/25, November, 2004
(saved to tablet as famineoverviewcormacograda.pdf .. Al)
An Analysis of Irish Famine Texts, 1845-2000: The Discursive Uses of Hunger, by Jerome Joseph Day, McGill University, PhD, 2001
(saved to tablet as famineirishtextsphdbyday.pdf). This is a very interesting paper; instead of just being a history of the famine, it is
a description and analysis of the novels and drama of writers describing the Irish famine in literary analysis terms. For this web page we will
be looking at two novels written by William Carleton in Ireland in 1847 and 1848: The Black Prophet, a tale of Irish famine and
The Emigrants of Ahadarra. (Saved "The Black Prophet" to tablet in directory /faminebooks ... Al)
Here is another great book: The Politics of Irish Literature from Thomas Davis to W.B. Yeats, by Malcolm Brown, University of Washington Press,
Seattle, USA, 1973, ISBN 0-295-95170-2
The Untold Story: The Irish in Canada, edited by Robert O'Driscoll and Lorna Reynolds,
Celtic Arts of Canada, Toronto, 1988, ISBN 0-921745-00-1 and here are four articles regarding the famine in Canada:
Emigrants and Exiles: Ireland and the Irish Exodus to North America, Kerby A. Miller, Oxford University Press,
1985, ISBN 0-19-503594-1. Read it here at Google Books
And here is Mary Rush in 1853 involved with the Barrett family as registered in the records of Notre Dame Cathedral in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada:
"5 Dec 1853
Baptism of John, born 17 October of the marriage of James Smith and Mary Rush of Bytown (Ottawa)
Godparents: Edward Barrett and Mary Rush"
This is the only occurrence of the surname "RUSH" in all of the Notre Dame records.
See also Thomas Barrett
The great Hunger in Ireland affected the Irish Catholic population there by a ratio of 80% to 20% compared to the Irish Protestant population.
A good book which documents the history of the Anglo-Irish from the time of the Norman invasion until the 20th century is
The Anglo-Irish Tradition, by Professor J. C. Beckett from Belfast University, 1976, ISBN 0 571 10908 X.
Atlas of the Great Irish Famine, published by Cork University Press, 2017, ISBN: 9781859184790
Ottawa Resource Room, at the MacOdrum Library of Carleton University, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Irish Settlements in Eastern Canada - A Study of Cultural Transfer and Adaptation, by John J. Mannion, a University of Toronto,
Department of Geography and Research Publication, 1974, ISBN 0-8020-5303-3.
Le Typhus de 1847 / The Typhus of 1847 Virtual Archive, Annals of the Grey Nuns, Ancien Journal, volume II, 1847.
(First Published and Serialized in French, Anon. "Le Typhus de 1847," Revue Canadienne, 1898-99)
Project Leader: Dr. Jason King, Project Translator: Philip O'Gorman
The Typhus in Bytown - Compassion in Action, by Sister Paul-Emile, SCO, 1944 (revised in 1998). This book is available
at the Archives of the Sisters of Charity. They have a wonderful collection of material regarding the work done by their order
(the Grey Nuns). This material can be read at their Archives, 27 Bruyere Street, Ottawa.
These Archives contain original, hand-written ledgers with names of patients admitted to the hospital.
For this project we will just be looking at the period June 1847 to December 1847 - the worst period
of the famine in Bytown / Ottawa.
Across the Waters: Ontario Immigrants' Experiences, 1820-1850, by Frances Hoffman and Ryan Taylor, Global Heritage Press,
1999, ISBN 1-894378-01-6
Death or Canada - The Irish Famine Migration to Toronto, 1847, by Mark G. McGowan, Novalis Publishing Inc., 2009, ISBN 978-2-89646-129-5.
"The Welcome and the Wake: Attitudes in Canada West towards Irish Famine Migration", by Joy Parr in Ontario History (66), 1974
The Ships Lists dot com - Famine Immigrants.
Library and Archives Canada -- Information and Research Resources
Grosse Isle, Gateway to Canada, 1832-1937, by Marianna O'Gallagher, Carraig Books, Quebec, 1984, ISBN 0-9690805-3-0
The Famine Ships by Edward Laxton, Bloomsbury Publishing, 1996, ISBN 0 7475 2535 8
Text below is from Kerby Miller, Emigrants and Exiles: Ireland and the Irish Exodus to North America
page 282 in the Google Digital version above. Keywords Thomas Barrett and Mary Rush from County Sligo.
Martindale Pioneer Cemetery, 1874-1900, from "A Little Memorandum for 1900" by
Father Blondin to commemorate the Famine Immigrants. Details how the French-Canadian Clergy
from the Gatineau Valley went to Grosse Isle and co-ordinated the re-union of Famine immigrants with their friends and
relatives already in Canada. See our Martindale Pioneer Cemetery web page.
Dewey # 929.371 IRG (Ottawa Branch, Ontario Genealogical Society Library)
Title: Names of Emigrants : from 1845-1847 Records of James Allison, Emigrant Agent at Montreal
Author: Irish Research Group, Ottawa Branch, Ontario Genealogical Society
Publisher: Ottawa Branch, Ontario Genealogical Society, 1994 (Pub 94-2).
This publication lists the names of indigent immigrants forwarded to Bytown from Montréal between 1845 and 1847.
The McCabe List: Early Irish in the Ottawa Valley, by Dr. Bruce Elliott,
Ontario Genealogical Society, ISBN 1-55075-048-8. (673 mostly Irish Immigrants in the Ottawa area by February, 1829)
(Digitized by Olivia Martin for research purposes but not publicized). This list provides the names of many members
of the Irish community who were in Bytown working on the Rideau Canal construction between 1827 and 1832 and who
formed the base of solid, settled families (both Catholic and Protestant) who were able to aid the newly arrived famine
immigrants in 1847.
Information for Intending Settlers On the Ottawa and Opeongo Road by T. P. French, Crown Land Agent, 1857. This .pdf document was written by T.P. French in Ottawa in 1857. The western part
of Renfrew County was surveyed into new townhips and lots in the late 1840's partly to receive new settlers from Ireland.
(Free Land Grants for New Settlers) ... (Note to me: Downloaded this .pdf file as opeongolinesettlers.pdf)
THE EMIGRANT'S DIRECTORY AND GUIDE TO OBTAIN LANDS AND EFFECT A SETTLEMENT IN THE CANADAS, by FRANCIS A. EVANS, ESQ.,
late agent for the Eastern Townships to the Legislature of Lower Canada, 1833
One of the Famine Ships which sailed from Dublin, Ireland to Grosse Isle, Quebec in 1846 was the Perseverance
The Customs House in Dublin is in the background.
One of the best articles regarding the famine experiences in the Ottawa area was written by Mr. Michael McBane. His paper
may be downloaded from the link below.
Download Michael McBane - The oral tradition of the Irish famine immigrants to the Ottawa Valley -- (Quyon area, Pontiac County, Quebec)
I have printed off a copy of this paper in case the original is removed from the Internet at some point.
Some of the surnames mentioned are Dunnigan, Joyce, Gibbons, Stanton, Gavan, Rowan, Moyle, Mulligan,
O'Mally / O'Malley, O'Donnell. MaMahon, McMahon, Madden, Dolan, Phillips, Doherty, Jordan, Costello, McHugh,
O'Hara, Dowd, Doyle, Draper, McBane, Houlihan / Houlahan, O'Reilly, McColgan, Kilroy, Gavan, Quinn,
and Burke. Many of thee surnames and the number of women and children who make up the families are included
in the Emigrant Lists by James Allison at Montreal for 1845-47. (Link is somewhere on this page).
Here is another excellent paper which refutes the usual historical academic beliefs that the Irish Catholics disappeared into urban slums on arrival in Canada.
This paper by Professor Mark McGowan can be downloaded or read here. The title is
Creating Canadian Historical Memory - The Case of the Famine Migration of 1847, published by The Canadian Historical Association, 2006.
Here are two cover photos, showing the Celtic Cross at Grosse Isle, Quebec (Image on the left).
The image on the right shows the cover of the Book Women and the Great Hunger
(now in the Bytown or Bust Library, OK, in my basement ... Al)
The newspaper article coming up next was shared to us by Carmen Rochon. It is from the Ottawa Journal of May 10, 1947 and
was written by Mr. Harry Walker on the 100th Anniversary of Black '47. The headline is not exactly accurate; the major Cholera Epidemic.
occurred here in 1832. It was Typhus which was the killer in 1847. See also Carleton Saga by Harry and Olive Walker, 1968,
Published by the Carleton County Council 1968, no ISBN.
The Grey Nuns of The Cross, The First Religious Order of Women in Ottawa, Ontario.
This is a remarkable history of the Grey Nuns / Sisters of Charity, by Taylor Kennedy. The Grey Nuns began their work
in Bytown in 1845. They were the main charitable organization to minister health care to the immigrants from Ireland.
Here is a new Famine documentary by Mr. Kevin Moynihan, created on January 15, 2017. This is an excellent overview of the
voyage of the famine emigrants in 1847 from Quebec City, to Montreal then along the north shore of the St. Lawrence River and along
the north shore of Lake Ontario to the City of Toronto. In English or French. Forty-seven minutes of time well spent.
Here is a list of donors to Irish and Scottish famine relief in Prince Edward Island, Canada in 1847. This was posted to the
Facebook Group "Irish Genealogy" by John Loughney. Great information. And we sometimes overlook the devastating
effects of the Famine in Scotland. I believe that my GGGrandfather,
Patrick CHRISTOPHER, came from County Waterford, Ireland to Prince Edward Island / PEI before arriving in Bytown / Ottawa
in time for his second marriage in 1835. ... Al
Mrs. Philip O'Meara was born in County Tipperary, Ireland in 1785. She lived through the 1798 Rebellion and the Irish famine of Black '47.
Mrs O'Meara died in Ottawa, Canada in May of 1895. The following newspaper clippings are from the Ottawa Journal dated May 13, 1895.
Some of her descendants went to Iowa, USA.
Here is a big fat irony. The famine ship Jeanie Johnson which carried c. 2,500 emigrants from Ireland to
North America during the famine years was re-constructed and now carries wealthy people from Ireland to the USA and Canada.
Instead of carrying 200+ passengers as she did in the 1840's, she now carries only 29 passengers in luxurious conditions
with their own gourmet chef. Anyone else find this project to be tacky, offensive and in extremely bad taste? ... Al
Famine ship: Source is Feb 13, 2003 - Daily Courier, Dublin, Ireland
Thanks to Taylor Kennedy for this image
The Sisters of Charity, (the Grey Nuns) recruited some of the ladies from the leading French Canadien and Irish families
to work with them to care for the victims of the Irish Famine. Here are some of the families who stepped up in 1847:
Source: The Typhus in Bytown: Compassion in Action,by sister Paul-Emile,
We have information regarding these good samaritan families and will be adding it to this web page.
For example, I'll be adding the maiden names of the ladies and their husbands names over time. Mrs. Sparrow
was nee Ellen Grace. She was married to Charles Sparrow. Ellen died in September of 1847 -- possibly from Typhus.
14 Sep 1847
Funeral service for Helen / Ellen Grace who died yesterday, aged 40 yrs., wife of Charles Sparrow (Mrs. Sparrow was one
of the "Ladies of Charity" who helped care for the persons suffering from Typhus during "Black '47"
Witnesses: Edward Smith, Michael O'Connor, John O'Dogherty / Doherty. (Source: Drouin Records for
Notre Dame Cathedral).
Most of the churches in the Ottawa area were involved in collecting money to be sent to Ireland for famine relief. Also,
many of the original settlers helped the new immigrants to find land in various neighbourhoods where they could settle and
begin to farm almost immediately. This was an example of ecumenical co-operation among denominations here.
There was an early connection between the famine immigrants and Our Lady of Visitation parish at South Gloucester, now part
of the City of Ottawa. Some of the famine immigrants settled there and in the northern part of Osgoode Township.
John Doherty donated land for the construction of Our Lady of the Visitation Church at South Gloucester.
And here is the birth of John, son of John Doherty and Charlotte Sparrow on February 3, 1850 at Our Lady of the Visitation:
Note the priest's signature above -- Father Regis Deleage. Father Deleage soon led seventeen families from OLV to a new
settlement at Maniwaki. Before we know it, a village close to Maniwaki is named after Father Deleage!
Mrs. Burke was the wife of Colonel George Thew Burke, from County Tipperary, Ireland,
who had been the land distributor for the discharged soldiers of the 99th Regiment of Foot who settled in
Richmond (Goulbourn Township) starting in 1818.
Mrs. Burke was nee Lydia Grant.
In response to a facebook comment to http://www.facebook.com/bytownorbust, today:
Thank you, Carole Ann Bennett: Yes, the Aumier family was one of the first families to settle in Bytown. The records for
Notre Dame Cathedral begin in 1829 and here is a very early record: 28 Oct 1829, After one publication of banns, marriage
of Baptiste Leclerc of St. Henri of Mascouche, Lower Canada and Henrietta Aumier, daughter of Francois Aumier / Homier
and the late Mary Tessier". As I add more information regarding the families who assisted the famine victims in 1847, there
will be more info on the Aumier family. Here is an obituary, I believe that the year is 1850: Ottawa, July 12, M. Jean Baptiste AUMIER,
mason, a native of Montreal, aged 53 years and 2 months. I believe that his wife was Marguerite Robillard. The deceased
has been a resident of Bytown for the past 27 years. The Robillard family is also mentioned in the image above. ... Allan Lewis
Emigration from County Wicklow, Ireland to Canada during the Great Famine
Here is a book called "Surplus People" by Jim Rees. This book is the main academic work for studying the famine exodus from
County Wicklow, Ireland to Canada during the Irish famine period, 1846-1854. This "clearance" by Lord Fitzwilliam
from his 80,000 acre estate called Coolattin was more humane than most of the clearances during the famine.
All of the families came to Canada, many to Gloucester Township in the present-day city of Ottawa, Canada.
Here is a link to our page regarding immigrants from the great famine in County Wicklow, Ireland who came through Quebec,
then Montreal, in 1847 and settled in Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec.
... Al (posted by Hannah)
And here is a group who arrived on the Ship Star in 1848 and who
landed at St. Andrews, New Brunswick. Note: You will find many of the same surnames on the two lists -- these two groups came from the same
area in County Wicklow and most of them knew each other back in Ireland. Note the preponderance of the Byrne / Byrnes and Burns surname.
Before being formed into a County, this area was called "O'Byrnes Country" after the clan / sept O'Byrne.
The town of Smiths Falls, Ontario, has twinned with the town of Carnew, County Wicklow, Ireland. This year, 2017,
the folks from Carnew on the old Coolattin Estate, previously owned for generations by Lord Fitzwilliam, are coming to Smiths Falls and Ottawa.
In June of 2018, a group of us are going to Carnew for a return visit, to walk the land of our ancestors. Coolattin is the ancient estate from
which many of the O'Byrne / Burns / Byrne and Byrnes families emigrated to the Ottawa area, starting in 1827 (my Burns ancestors). Historically
County Wicklow is the original land of the ancient O'Byrne Sept (Irish clan). There was a large assisted migration from the Coolattin Estate
during the Irish Famine and many of these newcomers joined earlier Wicklow area settlers in the Ottawa area. The book pictured above, by Jim Rees,
and called "Surplus People" documents this large migration scheme to the Ottawa area. Some of these emigrants to Ottawa area listed on our web page at
... Allan Lewis, posted to the Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/bytownorbust.
And here is the link to the Irish web site Coolattin Canadian Connection - Connecting Canadian Irish with their Coolattin Roots.
The ship Dunbrody was a three masted barque built in Quebec City in 1845 by Thomas Hamilton Oliver for the Graves family,
merchants from New Ross in County Wexford, Ireland. The Graves family business, in addition to providing overseas transportation
also provided a luggage chest for each family being taken off the estate. She was the first ship to bring famine emigrants from
the Fitzwilliam Estate in County Wicklow to Quebec in 1845.
Many of these passengers came to Bytown and Eastern Ontario and settled in Catholic communities here. For example, the
Peter TOMKIN (TOMKINS) family settled about a mile from my GGGrandparents at the village of Manotick Station
on the border of Gloucester and Osgoode Townships, now part of the City of Ottawa. See their farm location on the 1879 Belden
digital map from McGill University, next. The farm shown here is owned by Henry Tomkins in 1879.
Here is a drawing of the famine ship Dunbrody built in county Wexford, Ireland.
Source: Page 142 in Surplus People by Jim Rees.
Some neighbourhoods in County Wicklow were almost completely re-assembled in new neighbourhoods in Canada.
For example, Killinure Townland, County Wicklow, Ireland, to the Belleville, Ontario, Canada area, also to Camden East Township, Ontario
Emigration from Counties Kerry, Limerick and Cork, Ireland
to Canada during the Great Famine
To Renfrew County, Ontario, Canada
Map Source: This map is a portion of a widely-distributed black and white map showing the counties of
Ireland in 1848. It appears in many books, for example, The Great Hunger, Ireland, 1845-1849, by Cecil Woodham-Smith, page 13.
Counties Cork, Kerry and Limerick in Ireland have been extracted and combined on the following map. They are located in the
Province of Munster.
Carol Bennett McQuaig has written several excellent books regarding immigration to the Ottawa Valley, Ontario, Canada. Here is an
excerpt from the back cover of her book The Kerry Chain - The Limerick Link, by Carol McCuaig, published by Juniper Books,
2003, ISBN 0-919137-36-9. Another book written by Mrs. McQuaig is People of St. Patrick's, by Carol Bennett,
Juniper Books, 1993, ISBN 0-919137-29-6. Many of the families who came to Renfrew County settled at Mount St. Patrick.
This photograph is of a monument at St. Patrick's Church at Mount Saint Patrick in Renfrew County, Ontario Canada.
Some of the Irish families on the monument emigrated at the time of the Famine.
Brother James J. Mangan's family came from Newtownsandes, County Kerry, Ireland at the time of the famine. They settled in Admaston Township in
Renfrew County. Here is the 1852 census for Admaston Township -- choose "split view". James Mangan was
the author and editor of two infuential books about the famine:
1847 Famine Ship Diary, The Journey of an Irish Coffin Ship, by Robert Whyte, edited by James S. Mangan (born 1907 in Renfrew County,
Admaston Township, Ontario, Canada), Mercier Press, Dublin, 1994, ISBN 1 85635 0916. (in the OBOGS Library)
The Voyage of the Naparima : a Story of Canada's Island Graveyard, by James J. Mangan, Carraig Books, 1982. (in the OBOGS Library)
Some of the famine emigrants already had contacts here in the Ottawa Valley. The Peter Robinson settlers arrived here
from Cork, Kerry and Limerick in 1823 and set up well-established churches and Irish communities here.
... Al (we will be adding more material about emigration from Kerry and Limerick to THIS PAGE)
Emigration from County Armagh, Ireland to Canada during the Great Famine
Some of the famine immigrants to the Ottawa, Canada area settled in the village called Westport, Ontario in Leeds County here.
The following graphic shows that John Madden had a contact in Westport, Ontario, his wife, Mrs. Madden, was looking to re-connect with him.
Westport, Ontario is named for the City of Westport in County Mayo, Ireland but at the time of Black '47, many settlers came to Canada on the
famine ship Hannah from County Armagh. This ship was wrecked when it hit an iceberg in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and
its captain abandoned ship.
We can now search the Boston Pilot digital archives, below. Be creative with your search term.
If you are looking for Irish connections to Canada, be sure to add "Canada" (no quotes) to the field noted as Contact Address.
And here is a good book about the voyage of the Hannah: The Hannah - South Armagh to Ontario,
by Kevin Murphy and Una Walsh, Mullaghbane Community Centre, 2006, hard cover, 112 pages, ISBN 0-9546163-8-3.
Emigration from County Tipperary, Ireland to Canada during the Great Famine
Before the famine, County Tipperary sent a great number of Irish emigrants to Canada, particularly to Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec.
These folks, who arrived some thirty years before Black '47 contributed to the large stock of Irish persons already settled here by the time of the
famine and were able to act as contacts for integrating into their new communities here in Canada.
Groups of Irish people began arriving in 1818, 1823 and 1827. See some of the sources for this emigration on our page at Emigration from County Tipperary,
Ireland to the Ottawa, Canada area. The best book for syudying Protestant and Catholic emigration to our region is
Irish Migrants in the Canadas: A New Approach, by Dr. Bruce Elliott (Carleton University),
McGill/Queen's Press, 1988, ISBN 0-7735-0607-I -- This book is encyclopedic and should be in all of our family libraries.
(HIST 3500 course at Carleton University, given by Dr. Bruce Elliott), Digital Version
Another book, specifically related to the Famine in Tipperary in 1849 is pictured below, right.
It is The Famine Clearance in Toomevara, County Tipperary, (Maynooth Studies in Local History), by Helen O'Brien,
Four Courts Press Ltd., 2010, ISBN 9781846822605.
Tipperary to host national famine ceremony at Ballingarry
Back to Bytown or Bust - History and Genealogy in the Ottawa, Canada, area