Irish Quebecers

Irish Quebecers ( _fr. Québécois Irlandais) are residents of the Canadian province of Quebec who have Irish ancestry. In 2006, there were 406,085 Quebecers who identified themselves as having partial or exclusive Irish descent in Quebec, representing 5.5% of the population. [ [ Ethnocultural Portrait of Canada Highlight Tables - 2006 Census: Quebec] ] [Statistics Canada [ 1996 Census: Top 25 Ethnic Origins in Quebec] ] Historian and journalist Louis-Guy Lemieux, however, claims that about 40% of Quebecers have Irish ancestry on at least one side of their family tree. [Taïeb Moalla, [ "Les Irlandais du Québec : à la croisée de deux cultures"] , in, retrieved on February 3, 2007]


In 2001, there were 406,085 Quebecers who identified themselves as Irish representing 5.5% of the population. This represents an increase from the 1996 count of 313 660. They are spread more or less uniformly across the province.

In the Montreal region, there are 161,235 Irish, with about 78,175 (48.5%) of these being English-speaking. [Statistics Canada [ Population by selected ethnic origins, by census metropolitan areas (2001 Census)(Montréal)] ] Irish culture and community organizations are mostly kept alive by the English-speaking population, with the others assimilating into the French-speaking majority population. [United Irish Societies of Montreal [] ]

aint Patrick's Day Parade

The longest-running Saint Patrick's Day parade in Canada occurs each year in Montreal, Québec. The parades have been held in continuity since 1824; however, St. Patrick's Day itself has been celebrated in Montreal as far back as 1759 by Irish soldiers in the Montreal Garrison following the British conquest of New France. [cite web|title=Montreal's Saint Patrick's Day Parade: History|author=Don Pidgeon|publisher=United Irish Societies of Montreal|date=2007-07-03|url=]


New France

There may have been up to 5% of the population of settlers of New France (Acadia and Canada principally) who were from Ireland. [Peter Toner, " [ Irish] ", in "The Canadian Encyclopedia", retrieved on February 17, 2008] In 1966, the Programme de recherche en démographie historique (PRDH) of the Université de Montréal began reconstructing the population of "Old Quebec" from the beginning of French colonization to the late 18th century. Of the 8527 founding colonists of French Quebec, 89.8% were from France. The rest (10.2%) were from Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and Ireland. [Jacques Leclerc, " [ La Nouvelle-France (1534-1760). L'implantation du français au Canada] ", in "Aménagement linguistique dans le monde", TQLF, Université Laval retrieved on February 17, 2008] It is known that there were Irish soldiers in the armies of Montcalm. [Irish Families in Ancient Quebec Records with some account of Soldiers from Irish Brigade Regiments of France serving with the Army of Montcalm, 1969]

British rule

Quebec has seen substantial immigration from Ireland in its history, especially during the Great Irish Famine (1845-1849). The majority arrived in Grosse Isle, an island in present day Quebec which housed the immigration reception station. Thousands died or were treated in the hospital (equipped for fewer than one hundred patients) in the summer of 1847; in fact, many boats that reached Grosse-Île had lost the bulk of their passengers and crew, and many more died in quarantine on or near the island. From Grosse-Ile, most survivors were sent to Montréal. Most of these immigrants continued on to settle in Canada West (formerly Upper Canada, now Ontario) or the United States. The orphaned children were adopted into Quebec families and accordingly became Québécois, both linguistically and culturally. Some of these children fought for their right to keep their Irish surnames, and were largely successful. [] .

The Irish established communities in both urban and rural Quebec. Irish immigrants arrived in large numbers in Montreal during the 1830s and were hired as labourers to build the Lachine Canal. In the 1840s and 1850's, they laboured on the Victoria Bridge, living in a tent city at the foot of the bridge (see Goose Village, Montreal). Here, workers unearthed a mass grave of 6000 Irish immigrants who had died in an earlier typhus epidemic. The Irish Stone remains at the bridge entrance to commemorate the tragedy.

The Irish would go on to settle permanently in the close-knit working-class neighbourhoods of Point-Saint-Charles and Griffintown. The Irish would fight fiercely to preserve a distinct identity from both Quebec Protestants and French Canadian Catholic populations [] . With the help of Quebec's Irish Catholic Church led by priests such as Father Patrick Dowd, they would establish their own churches, schools, and hospitals. St. Patrick's Basilica was founded in 1847 and served Montreal's English-speaking Catholics for over a century. Loyola College (Montreal) was founded by the Jesuits to serve Montreal's mostly Irish English-speaking Catholic community in 1896. Saint Mary's Hospital was founded in the 1920s and continues to serve Montreal's present-day English-speaking population.

Post-Confederation & Modern Day Quebec

Nevertheless, mixing between the Irish and the French Quebecers was also common. In the pre-Quiet Revolution religious Quebec, the common Catholicism of the two groups meant they were more likely to intermarry, more than with the English and Scottish Protestant settlers. According to Marianna O' Gallagher, three factors would explain the assimilation of some Irish immigrants into French Canadian society: "The cordial reception that the Irish received in Quebec, the mixed marriages and the frequentation of French-speaking churches". [Taïeb Moalla, "Les Irlandais du Québec : à la croisée de deux cultures", in "", on February 3, 2007]

French-speaking Quebecers make up roughly 80% of the total population of some 7.5 million Quebecers.Many Irish assimilated into francophone Quebec culture, transforming its music, danses and food. Others maintained their cultural heritage as part of the English speaking community of Quebec, especially in Montreal.

The records of the United Irish Societies of Montréal suggest that many patronyms of seemingly old-stock French Quebecers are in fact francized Irish surnames. Thus the Aubrys would owe their name to the O'Briens, the Barrettes to the Barretts, the Bourques to the Burkes, the Guérin to the Gearans or Gearys, the Mainguys to the McGees, the Morins to the Morans, the Nolins to the Nolans, the Riels to the Reillys or O'Reillys, the Sylvains to the Sullivans or O'Sullivans. [Taïeb Moalla, [ "Les Irlandais du Québec : à la croisée de deux cultures"] , in "", retrieved on February 3, 2007] However, since many of these surnames, (such as Burke and Guerin) originally came to Ireland from Normandy following the Norman invasion of the 12th century, it seems more likely that some Irish-Quebecers simply reverted back to the original French spelling of their Irish name. [ [ "Norman and Cambro-Norman Surnames of Ireland"] ]

There are also many francophone families who have anglicized Irish surnames. One of those families is the Johnson family, a political dynasty that gave Quebec three Premiers, all of different parties and ideologies (Union nationale, Parti libéral du Québec and Parti Québécois.

Many descendants of Irish Quebecers amassed large fortunes in Montreal in the 1920s, but most lost their fortunes in the Stock Market Crash of 1929 Fact|date=August 2007. Irishmen were also instrumental in building Victoria Bridge in Montreal. Near the entrance of this bridge is a great stone bearing an inscription commemorating the Irish who died after arriving to the city. One of the greatest influences the Irish had and still have on their new compatriots is within music. The music of Quebec has adopted, and adapted, the Irish reel as its own.

Begun in 1824, the Saint Patrick's Day parade of Montreal, Quebec is still the oldest organized large parade of its kind in North America.

On March 17, 2008, on the 175th anniversary of Montreal's St. Patrick Society, Quebec Premier Jean Charest announced the creation of the Johnson chair of Irish studies at Concordia University. [ [ Concordia Journal] 20 March 2008]

Famous Irish Quebecers

*Jean Charest
*Jim Corcoran
*Sir Edmund Flynn
*Daniel Johnson Sr.
*Daniel Johnson
*Pierre-Marc Johnson
*Emile Nelligan
*Edmund Bailey O'Callaghan

See also

* List of Irish Quebecers
* English-speaking Quebecer
* Scots-Quebecer
* Irish influence on Quebec culture
* Irish roots of Quebec reel music
* Irish diaspora
** Irish Canadians
** Irish Americans
* List of Ireland-related topics
* Culture of Ireland



In English

* O'Brien, Kathleen. "Language, monuments, and the politics of memory in Quebec and Ireland", in "Eire-Ireland: A Journal of Irish Studies", March 22, 2003 ( [ online excerpt] )
* Burns, Patricia (1998). "The Shamrock and the Shield : An Oral History of the Irish in Montreal", Montreal: Véhicule Press, 202 p. ISBN 1-55065-109-9
* O'Gallagher, Marianna (1998). "The Shamrock Trail: Tracing the Irish in Quebec City", Livres Carraig Books, 35 p. ISBN 0969858116
* O'Gallagher, Marianna and Rose Masson Dompierre (1995). "Eyewitness: Grosse Isle, 1847", Livres Carraig Books, 432 p. ISBN 096908059X
* Toner, Peter. " [ Irish] ", in "The Canadian Encyclopedia". Historica Foundation, 2008
* Grace, Robert J. (1993). "The Irish in Quebec, an introduction to the historiography. Followed by An Annotated Bibliography on the Irish in Quebec", Institut québécois de recherche sur la culture, 265 p. ISBN 2-89224-186-3
* O'Driscoll, Robert and Lorna Reynolds (1988). "The Untold Story. The Irish in Canada", Toronto: Celtic Arts of Canada, 1041 p. ISBN 0921745001
* Fitzgerald, Margaret E. (1988). "The Uncounted Irish in Canada and the United States", Toronto: P.D. Meany Publishers, 377 p. ISBN 0888350244
* O'Gallagher, Marianna (1984). "Grosse Île: Gateway to Canada, 1832-1937", Carraig Books, 184 p. ISBN 0969080530
* O'Gallagher, Marianna (1981). "Saint Patrick's Quebec", Carraig Books, 124 p. ISBN 0969080506
* Guerin, Thomas (1946). "The Gael in New France", 134 pages
* O'Farrell, John (1872). "Irish Families in Ancient Quebec Records with some account of Soldiers from Irish Brigade Regiments of France serving with the Army of Montcalm", 28 pages - Address delivered at the annual concert and ball of the St. Patrick's Society, Montreal, 15th of January, 1872 (reprinted 1908, 1967)
* D'Arcy McGee, Thomas (1852). "A History of the Irish Settlers in North America. From the Earliest Period to the Census of 1850", Boston: P. Donahoe, 240 p. ( [ online] )

In French

* Timbers, Wayne (2001). "Britannique et irlandaise; l'identité ethnique et démographique des Irlandais Protestants et la formation d'une communauté à Montréal, 1834-1860", 107 leaves; McGill, Thesis (M.A.)
* Sheehy, Réjeanne (2000). "L'alliance irlandaise Sheehy au Québec", Chicoutimi: Éditions Entreprises, 118 p.
* Dagneau, G.-H. (1998). "Révélations sur les trois frères O'Leary de Québec", Québec: Société historique de Québec, 117 p.
* Moalla, Taïeb. " [ Les Irlandais du Québec : à la croisée de deux cultures] ", in "", 2006
* Leclerc, Jacques. " [ La Nouvelle-France (1534-1760). L'implantation du français au Canada] ", in "L'aménagement linguistique dans le monde", 2008

External links

* LAC. " [ The Shamrock and the Maple Leaf] ", exhibition of Irish-Canadian documentary heritage held by "Library and Archives Canada", updated March 10, 2006
* Gail, Walsh. " [ The Irish in Quebec] ", in "The Irish in Canada" Web site
* Roux, Maryse. [ À la St-Patrick, tout le monde est irlandais!] (in French)
* McLane, Dennis. [ The Frampton Irish Website]
* Aubry, Louis. [ Tec Cornelius: The First Irish Immigrant in Canada] , Presentation to the British Isles Family History Society Of Greater Ottawa, Conference, 2002
* [ Canada's AUBRY family traced to a BRENNAN who was the first Irish immigrant]
* [ United Irish Societies of Montreal]
* [ St. Columban-Irish]

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