|The Irish in Quebec - General Facts|
The Irish in Quebec - General Facts
Because the roots of the Irish in Quebec are so broad and deep, it is possible to give only a general sense of their pervasive influence on the development of most regions of the province.
The relationship between the French and the Irish in Quebec had its origins in the armies of France in which many exiled Irish chiefs and soldiers served,Â often forming distinct regiments.Â So great was the number of Irish in France in the 16th century that the Irish College in Paris was established in 1578 to educate children of Irish exiles who were denied a Catholic education by British authorities in Ireland.Â The College is still used today for Irish cultural and diplomatic events.
Serving with the French forces in New France, many Irish soldiers concealed their identity from British forces by changing their names to French-sounding ones.Â As a consequence, a significant number of supposed French names in Quebec are not found in France.
By the end of the 1600s, it is believed that 130 of all the 2,500 families in New France, or roughly 5%, were Irish.Â In 1871, after massive immigration, the figure rose to above 10%, making the Irish the second largest group in Canada after the French.
From 1816 to 1860, it is estimated that over a million immigrants - 60% of them Irish - passed through the ports of Quebec City and Montreal.
In the tragic year of 1847, the total number of deaths among emigrants heading for Quebec City is estimated at 17,477, of which the vast majority were Irish.Â Â It is recorded that of these 3879 are buried at Grosse Ile, while approximately another 5,000 are buried at the Pointe Saint-Charles sheds in Montreal.Â Â
The happy note of this disaster was that hundreds of orphans in both Quebec City and Montreal were adopted by French families but allowed to keep their Irish names.
After settling in Quebec, Cork-born Dr. Timothy O' Sullivan changed his name to Timothee Sylvain and became the step-father of Marguerite d'Youville, the founder in 1737 of the Grey Nuns.
Governor Guy Carleton (Lord Dorchester) was born in Strabane, Ireland; he served as Governor of Quebec and recommended the passing of the Quebec Act in 1774, thereby ensuring French religious and educational rights.
Lewis Thomas Drummond, a native of Derry, Ireland, became a prominent Quebec lawyer and reformer politician who defended the Rebels of 1837.Â He served as Attorney-General in various governments and later became a distinguished judge.
Dr. Edmund Bailey O'Callaghan, a Cork-born lawyer,Â was an outspoken advocate of French rights in the lead-up to the 1837 Rebellion, a political position which forced him to flee to the United States with Louis-Joseph Papineau.
David Ross McCord, the founder of the McCord Museum, came from an illustrious family which had its roots in Dublin.
In the lead-up to Confederation, three politicians of Irish background - Robert Baldwin,Â Francis Hincks and D'Arcy McGee worked with Quebec politicians - Louis-Hippolyte Lafontaine,Â Auguste-Norbert Morin and George-Etienne Cartier, respectively - to defend the rights of French-speaking Canadians in the new country.
Louis Riel, responsible for achieving provincial status for Manitoba, and accused of treason and hanged for setting up a provisional government in Saskatchewan, was descended from Jack Reilly, a native of Limerick who had changed his name to Jean-Baptiste Riel when he married in Boucherville in 1704.Â Â
The Hon.Charles Fitzpatrick was the lawyer who defended Louis Riel in 1885 and Honore Mercier in 1892.Â He served in both the Quebec legislature and the Canadian Parliament, becoming Chief Justice of Canada and Lieutenant-Governor of Quebec.
The Hon. Charles J. Doherty served as a Quebec Superior Court Judge from 1891 to 1906. First elected to Parliament in 1908, he served as Minister of Justice for ten years, in which capacity he signed the Treaty of Versailles for Canada in 1919.Â He represented Canada at the League of Nations and was a contributor to the Constitution of the World Court.Â Â He advised the Chief Justice of Ireland on the Constitution of the Irish Free State.Â His grandson, The Hon Charles Gonthier, currently serves on the Supreme Court of Canada.
The Hon. Edmond James Flynn taught law at Universite Laval for more than 40 years.Â He was a minister in several Quebec governments and served as premier of the province in 1896-97.Â Â His descendent is current Quebec cabinet minister, Louise Beaudoin.
In the 19th century, six Mayors of Montreal were Irish - William Workman, Francis Cassidy, Sir. William Hingston, James McShane, Richard Wilson-Smith and the Hon. James Guerin.
From 1849 to 1980, 32 Irish Judges served on the Quebec Superior Court. Between 1867 and 1973,Â 44 Irish MPs were elected from different ridings in Quebec, while in the period from 1867 to 1978 no less than 57 Irish members served in the Quebec Legislature, representing various regions of the province.Â Â
Many politicians began their political careers at the municipal level and some rose to become Mayor.Â Among these were Francis Byrne (Charlesbourg),Â Xavier Kennedy (Douglastown), Charles Kirkland (Saint-Pierre), Charles McLary (Clifton), Dennis James O'Connor ( Huntingdon), George O'Reilly (Verdun), Ives Ryan (Montreql Nord) and Charles Alleyn and Owen Murphy (both Quebec City).
Rt. Hon. Louis Saint-Laurent's mother was a Catherine Broderick whose parents were born in Ireland.Â Â Â After serving as Canadian Minister of Justice and Minister of External Affairs, he became Prime Minister 1948 and was twice re-elected in 1949 and 1953.
George Vanier, the son of Irish-born Margaret Maloney,Â had a distinguished military and diplomatic career before becoming Canada's Governor-General in 1959.
The Hon. Daniel Johnson.Â Deriving his interest in politics from his Irish grandparents, he served as premier of Quebec from 1956 to 1958.Â Two sons, Pierre-Marc and Daniel Johnson, also served as Premiers of two different governments.Â Â
Irish engineers and laborers played a crucial role in the construction of the Lachine Canal (1821-25), the Beauharnois Canal (1843), the Grand Trunk Railway (1852) and the Victoria Bridge (1854-59).
The creation of the Montreal City and District Savings Bank (now the Laurentian Bank) was a cooperative effort of the French and Irish.Â Among those recruited by Bishop Ignace Bourget to serve as patrons of the bank were, one the one hand, Morin, Lafontaine, Papineau and Cartier, and on the other, Hincks, Drummond, Curran, O'Brien and Workman.Â Â Â Among those who served are the bank's president are Henry Mulholland, Hon. Edward Murphy, Sir William Hingston and Dr. Donald A. Hingston.
Among the institutions which the Irish helped to create in Montreal were St. Patrick's Basilica, St. Mary's Hospital, Father Dowd Home and Loyola College.Â Â Lady Shaughnessy's mansion, donated as the first location for St. Mary's Hospital, is now the centrepiece of the Canadian Centre for Architecture.
The Montreal Shamrocks won the Stanley Cup in 1899 and 1900, while the Montreal Canadiens were created in 1910 by Ambrose O'Brien and were managed and coached for their first decade by George Kennedy, winning the Stanley Cup in 1910.Â Â Â
Joe Malone, born in Quebec City, played seven years for the Quebec City Bulldogs and lead them to two Stanley Cup victories in 1912 and 1913.
James O'Donnell, a native of Wexford, Ireland, was the architect who designed and spent five overseeing the construction of Montreal's Notre Dame Cathedral, under which he is buried,Â
One of the foremost theologians of the twentieth century, Fr. Bernard Lonergan, after whom Concordia University's Lonergan College was named, was a native of Buckingham,Â Quebec.
Both Quebec's first chansonniere, La Bolduc (Mary Travers) and the leading French-Canadian poet, Emile Nelligan, were half-Irish, half-French, and their art was enriched by both cultures.Â Â Quebec's legendary fiddler, Ti-Jean Carignan, incorporated Irish musical traditions and techniques into his music, thereby giving Quebecoise music its unique characteristics.
A Fr. Edward Horan played a central role in the establishment of Laval University, and its first lay rector was Dr. Larkin Kerwin.Â The Irish presence at the university continued down through the years.Â For example,Â in addition to serving as Chief Surgeon at Quebec's Hotel-Dieu Hospital, Dr. Michael Ahern was for many years Laval's Dean of Medicine.Â His grand-daughter, Michelle Ahern Tisseyre, who still cherishes her Irish roots, has had a distinguished career in television and publishing.
The tradition of the Irish striving to contribute to the public good is embodied today by such contemporary figures as Jean Charest, Jim Corcoran, Geoffrey Kelley, the McGarrigle Sisters, Thomas Mulcair, Brian Mulroney, Mariana O'Gallagher, Louis O'Neill, Claude Ryan and Robert Scully.Â Together with the hundreds of thousands of Irish-French descendants, these people continue to influence the rich tapestry of Quebec society.