Not less than 15,000 of the children of Erin, flying from famine and
landlord tyranny and stricken by fever, lie buried in Grosse Isle.

From their own beloved isle
These Irish exiles sleep,
Nor dream they of historic past,
Nor o'er its memories weep;
Down where the blue St. Lawrence tide
Sweeps onward, wave on wave,
They lie - old Ireland's exiled dead,
In cross-crowned lonely grave.

Sleep on, oh, hearts of Erin,
From earthly travail free!
Our freighted sculls still greet you
Beyond life's troubled sea;
In every Irish heart and home,
Where prayer and love abound,
Is built an altar to your faith
A cross above each mound.

No more the patriots word will cheer
Your humble toil and care
No more your Irish heart will tell
The beads of the evening prayer;
The mirth that scoffed at direst want,
Lies buried in your grave,
Down where the blue St. Lawrence tide
Sweeps onward, wave on wave.

Oh, toilers in the harvest field,
Who gather golden grain!
Oh, pilgrims by the wayside,
Who succor grief and pain!
And ye, who knew that liberty
Oft wields a shining blade,
Pour forth your souls in requiem prayer
Where Irish hearts are laid!

Far from their own beloved land
These Irish exiled sleep,
Where dream not faith - crowned shamrock
Nor iyies o'er them creep;
But fragrant breath of maple
Sweeps on with freedom's tide,
And consecrates the lonely isle,
Where Irish exiles died.
poem from 22 Nov. 1888 Kilmore Free Press

17 June 1847
Great fears are entertained that sickness will be brought into the
provinces by the number of emigrants who are expected to arrive during
the summer. To a great degree the fears of the people of this country
respecting the arrival of fever with the emigrants have been verified.
All the ships which have arrived at the quarantine station at Grosse
Isle, below Quebec, have lost a great number by death on the passage
out and the hospital on the island, as well as the ships are crowded
with sick. None of them have yet been allowed to come up to the city,
but proper medical and other attendance has been sent down to them.
(From the Montreal Transcript of May 27)

The number of emigrants who had arrived at Quebec to the 27th May were
5546; To same period last year,5332; 25 sail of emigrant ships are at
Grosse Isle.
Caledonian Mercury

19 Jun 1847
All the ships which arrived at the quarantine station at Grosse Isle,
below Quebec, lost a great number by death on the passage out, and the
hospital on the island, as well as the ships, are crowded with sick.
Accommodation has been provided there for 10,000 persons. Every
building on the island that can be spared, including some new sheds
just erected, were crowded with the sick. The dead are tumbled into a
hole without coffins or anything else, but what they may have on when
they die. We have heard of 220 deaths at sea; Seventy on board the
vessel, 'the Cherokee'. Eighteen persons died in one night at the
hospital at Grosse Isle. Boards of health have been established, and
the most stringent measures of precaution adopted. (Limerick

21 Jun. 1847 Emigration to Quebec. Typhus Fever
On the 20th ult. Mr. BUCHANAN, agent for emigrants, had advices that
40 vessels had sailed for Quebec, from Waterford, Sligo, Dublin,
Londonderry, Belfast, New Ross, Limerick, Cork, Newry, and Liverpool
having on board 12,300 passenges. A large number of emigrants by other
ships had reached Quebec and one vessel, the 'Exmouth',* from
Londonderry, had been shipwrecked. On the 23rd ult. 1,335 passengers
reached Quebec by sea and 12 ships, chiefly from Ireland, with over
4,000 passengers, were at the quarantine ground below, where
accommodations have been provided for 10,000 persons. The deaths on
board the ships that have arrived are very numerous, Fifty died on
board the 'Agnes', from Cork, 45 in the 'Wandsworth', 10 in the 'Jane
Black', 20 in the 'George'. On the 23rd ult. 436 fever patients were
in the Grosse Isle hospital, and the probability is that the number
will augment daily.
(* more on the Exmouth later)

26 June 1847
Reports from the quarantine station at Grosse Isle are unfavourable.
There are 1,300 sick and about 13,000 in 40 vessels at the station.
According to all accounts death and starvation are nearly as bad at
Grosse Isle, as in Ireland. The number of orphans is now about 100.

30 Jun 1847 Wreck of an Emigrant Vessel, Dreadful Loss of Life
the Quebec Gazette of June 11 says - ln a letter dated Cape Rosier,
May 19th, which appeared in our paper Monday last, announcing the
melancholy fate of the brig 'Carricks', R. THOMPSON master, from
Sligo, which was lost near that place with all her passengers except
48, and one boy belonging her crew, the number of passengers was
stated to be 167; so that 119 of them would appear to have perished,
and, with the boy, in all 120 persons. In looking over a file of
Irish papers received last mail, we have met with an extract from a
Sligo paper, according to which the number drowned, including the boy,
would be 129, instead of 120, unless the ill-fated ship had already
lost some of her passengers before the awful catastrophe by which so
many of the poor people sent out free by Lord Palmerston were
consigned to a watery grave.

The Miracle, which left Liverpool towards the end of March, with 400
emigrants, was, the night of the 9th of May, wrecked off the Magdalen
Islands, and 70 of the emigrants were drowned. The survivors were
conveyed to Picton. Twenty of the unfortunate emigrants had previously
perished from fever.
Kings County Chronicle

30 June 1847
The chief topic of conversation at that city, (Montreal Canada) was
the sickness at Grosse Island. The latest accounts from that place
state that the number of ships still there was about thirty. The
number of deaths for the week ending June 8th was 110. It was reported
that 120 burials had taken place in Grosse Isle on the 9th Jun.

A letter from our correspondent at Mirimachi states that the ship
'Loosthank', Captain Thorn, bound from Liverpool to Quebec, with 350
passengers, out 49 days, put in there in distress, 117 passengers
having died on the passage and the crew not able to work the ship. She
was to proceed on her voyage as soon as the crew recovered. (The
Evening Chronicle)

20 Oct. 1847
We regret to say that the forebodings of evil with respect to
emigrants arriving in the St. Lawrence are at this moment only too
sadly verified. We have been favoured with the sight of a letter from
Quebec, from which it appears that a very large number of deaths have
taken place on board of many of the vessels coming out. On board the
'Agnes' there have been 50 deaths; on board the 'Wandsworth' 45; on
board the 'Jane
Black' 10 or 11; on board the 'George', 20; in all, about 150.
There are now, we learn, about 215 patients on shore in the hospital,
besides 220 others on board 4 ships, which are still detained at
Grosse Isle. The government, in the mean time, has been engaged in
doing all in its power to alleviate the calamity. We understand that
the chief emigrant agent at Quebec has engaged 2 experienced medical
men to go
to the quarantine station to assist Dr. DOUGLAS in taking charge of
the sick  and accommodation has been provided for 10,000 persons on
the island. He has also given the necessary
orders for the erection of a fever hospital on Windmill Point, above
the canal. This hospital will contain 200 persons. A shed is also to
be erected on the island wharf. (The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River
General Advertiser)

18 Sept. 1847 The Canadian Ship Fever
The great Irish famine and pestilence will have a place in that
melancholy series of similar calamities to which historians and poets
have contributed so many harrowing details and touching expressions.
Did Ireland possess a writer endued with the laborious truth of
Thucydides, the graceful felicity of Virgil, or the happy invention of
De Foe, the events of this miserable year might be quoted by the
scholars for ages to come together with the sufferings of the pent-up
multitudes of Athens, the distempered plains of northern Italy, or the
hideous ravages of our own great plague. But time is ever improving on
the past. There is one horrible feature of the recent not to say the
present visitation which is entirely new. The fact of more than a
hundred thousand souls flying from the very midst of the calamity
across a great ocean to a new world, crowding into insufficient
vessels, scrambling for a footing on a deck and a berth in a hold,
committing themselves to these worse than prisons, while their frames
were wasted with ill-fare and their blood infected with disease,
fighting for months of unutterable wretchedness against the elements
without and pestilence within, giving almost hourly victims to the
deep, landing at length on shores already terrified and diseased,
consigned to encampments of the dying and of the dead, spreading death
wherever they roam, and having no other prospect before them than a
long continuance of these horrors in a still farther flight across
forests and lakes under a Canadian sun and a Canadian frost; all these
are circumstances beyond the experience of the Greek historian or the
Latin poet, and such as an Irish pestilence alone could produce. By
the end of the season there is little doubt that the immigration into
Canada alone will have amounted to 100,000; nearly all from Ireland.
We know the condition in which these poor creatures embarked on their
perilous adventure. They were only flying from one form of death. On
the authority of the Montreal Board of Health we are enabled to state
that they were allowed to ship in numbers two or three times greater
than the same vessels would have presumed to carry to a United States
port. The worst horrors of that slave trade which it is the boast or
the ambition of this empire to suppress, at any cost, have been
re-enacted in the flight of British subjects from their native shores.
In only ten of the vessels that arrived at Montreal in July, four from
Cork and six from Liverpool, out of 4,427 passengers, 804 had died on
the passage and 847 were sick on their arrival; that is, 847 were
visibly diseased, for the result proves that a far larger number had
in them the seeds of disease. "The Larch," says the Board of Health on
August 12, "reported this morning from Sligo, sailed with 440
passengers, of whom 108 died on the passage, and 150 were sick. The
"Virginius" sailed with 496; 158 died on the passage, 186 were sick,
and the remainder landed feeble and tottering - the captain, mates and
crew were all sick. The Black Hole of Calcutta was a mercy compared to
the holds of these vessels. Yet simultaneously, as if in reproof of
those on whom the blame of all this wretchedness must fall,
foreigners, Germans from Hamburgh and Bremen, are daily arriving, all
healthy, robust, and cheerful." This vast unmanageable tide of
population thus thrown upon Montreal, like the fugitives from some
bloody defeat, or devastated country, has been greatly augmented by
the prudent and, we must add, most necessary precautions adopted in
time by the United States, where more stringent sanitary regulations,
enforced by severer penalties, have been adopted to save the ports of
the Union from those very horrors which a paternal Government has
suffered to fall upon Montreal. Many of these pest ships have been
obliged to alter their destination, even while at sea, for the St.
Lawrence. At Montreal, a large proportion of these outcasts have
lingered from sheer inability to proceed. The inhabitants of course
have been infected. From the official returns of burials at Montreal,
for the 9 weeks ending Aug. 7, it appears that in the city there died
during that period 924 residents and 806 emigrants, making a total of
1,730 deaths. Besides these, 1,510 emigrants died at the sheds, making
a grand total of 3,240 in the city of Montreal audits extempore
Lazaretto; against only 488, including residents and emigrants, for
the corresponding weeks last year. A still more horrible sequel is to
come. The survivors have to wander forth and find homes. Who can say
how many will perish on the way, or the masses of houseless, famished
and half-naked wretches that will be strewed on the inhospitable snow,
when a Canadian winter once sets in? Of these awful occurrences some
account must be given. Historians and politicians will some day sift
and weigh the conflicting narrations and documents of this lamentable
year, and pronounce, with or without affection, how much is due to the
inclemency of heaven and how much to the cruelty, heartlessness, or
improvidence of man. The boasted institutions and spirit of this
empire are on trial. They are weighed in the balance. Famine and
pestilence are at the gates and a conscience-stricken nation might
almost fear to see the "writing on the wall." We are forced to confess
that, whether it be the fault of our laws, or our men, this new act in
the terrible drama has not been met as humanity and common sense would
enjoin. The result was quite within the scope of calculation and even
of cure.
But simple as precaution was, what has been done? In the first place,
our usual regulations as to the proportions of passengers to tonnage
are lax enough. Then, it appears that British vessels bound to Canada,
owing to the recent repeal of a former enactment, need not and do not,
take out surgeons. Then, as a correspondent informs us, the inspectors
appointed to see that emigrant ships chartered from British ports
observed such regulations as there are, have generally failed in their
duty. Into this part of the business we hope that Parliament will not
omit to inquire. Further, notwithstanding the assurances given to the
Legislature last session, it is quite clear that due preparation has
not been made at the colony. As the Montreal Board of Health justly
complains, there have been no adequate funds, or even competent
authority, provided for the crisis; the establishment at Grosse Isle
has been ridiculously insufficient, nor have any measures whatever
been adopted or thought of, for the transmission of the helpless and
destitute crowd beyond Montreal, much less for their employment and
settlement. Such neglect is an eternal scandal to the British name;
nor do we see any way to escape the opprobrium of a national
inhumanity, except by taking the earliest and most effective means to
rectify past errors, and prevent their recurrence.

23 Oct. 1847 Irish Emigrants in Canada
On the eve of the departure of mail for England, we desire once more,
to draw the attention of the authorities in Great Britain to the
continued practice of shipping to Canada parties in the utmost state
of destitution and among whom, disease must have existed prior to
their embarkation. The last case in point is the ship 'Superior', from
Londonderry, now at Grosse Isle. This vessel left with 366 passengers.
Her deaths on the passage amount to 20 and 120 (sick of typhus fever
and dysentery) have been landed at the quarantine station. Of the
number (not positively ill) sent to the sheds for the reception of the
healthy, the inspecting medical officer is of opinion that not more
than 12 can be said to be free from disease. The whole of these poor
creatures are said to exceed in squalour, wretchedness, filth, any
that have arrived from the old country during this season of misery
and death. One fact will suffice to illustrate the wretched condition
of these poor creatures and to convey a fearful idea of the miserable
position in which they are about to find themselves. It is given in a
few words; so destitute were they, that the captain had cut the canvas
bread bags for clothing for some of them! Is not this truly appalling?
What hearts must those possess who could deliberately expose their
fellow creatures to misery such as we now detail? Man cries shame upon
his fellow men for such cool, calculating, and mercenary atrocity. A
second vessel, freighted with Highlanders, equally as miserable and
filthy in condition as any hitherto reported, is also at Grosse Isle
at this moment, the 'Elisa Jones', from Glasgow with 369 passengers.
She has landed 30 sick at the station and lost 30 during the voyage.
What, we ask, will be the fate of those poor souls arriving here at a
time when employment of every description is about at an end? for
winter seals up almost every channel of industry and winter is fast
drawing nigh? Begging alone is open to them. (Dublin Weekly Nation)

17 Nov. 1847
The immigration from Ireland has commenced under the most gloomy
auspices. Since the opening of the navigation upwards
of 30,000 immigrants have arrived. In flying from the misery that
surrounded them at home they have merely shifted the scene of their
affliction. Fever and dysentery have made sad havoc among them. No
less than 1,300 deaths have occurred at the quarantine station, Grosse
Isle, about 36 miles below Quebec and nearly the same number are
reported to have taken place on the passage out. I will leave your
imagination to picture the scenes which have converted this small
island into a lazaretto. On one day there were 128 funerals.

In the meantime the fears of our citizens have put them on the alert.
Precautionary measures have been adopted by boards of health. At
Grosse Isle the medical staff has been increased by 12 assistants,
sheds for the sick have been erected at one end of the island, and 500
tents for the reception of the healthy at the other. Supplies of
provisions have been distributed
through the commissariat to all the destitute passengers and a soup
kitchen has been opened for their relief in Quebec. At the
latest accounts there were 1,935 sick onshore at Grosse Isle, and 260
on board ship. The great proportion of cases of dysentery is the
natural result of extreme destitution among
the poorer passengers, few cases having occurred among the better
classes of immigrants. Landlords would do well, therefore, to pause
before they assume the responsibility of providing paupers with free
passages, unless they provide them also with food to sustain them on
the way. Whatever
motive may prompt them, misplaced liberality, or selfish foresight,
they may depend that the crowd and filth of a passenger ship, and want
of food during a long voyage, will
consign a great number to certain death.
To add to the horror inspired by these sufferings, several immigrant
vessels have been wrecked in the Gulf with considerable loss of life;
in one case, 'the Imogen', wrecked
on the Scatterie Islands, only 104 passengers escaped out of 400.
The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser

18 August 1847 The Ship Fever in Canada Quebec, July 24
The fever amongst the emigrants is still raging as destructively as
ever. Some diminution has occurred in the number of deaths within the
last week, because ships are now beginning to come in more slowly, but
the relative proportion is quite great, while the disease has assumed,
in many cases, the more dangerous and fatal form of congestion of the
brain and lungs.
The quarantine hospitals at Grosse Isle still contain their two
thousand patients, while all the available accommodation for the sick
in the town itself has been for some days filled up. Most fortunately
for the inhabitants of Quebec, comparatively few of the emigrants land
amongst them; they are almost entirely embarked direct on board the
steamer for Montreal, the healthy from their ships and the so called
convalescent from Grosse Isle and are carried away once, without any
communication with Quebec, consequently, whilst the disease is daily
being conveyed to the upper St. Lawrence and spread into the western
districts, it is here almost solely confined to those whose duties
compel their personal attendance upon the sick. Several clergymen and
doctors have died and others are dangerously ill, but the fever is
decidedly not general in the town, because being contagious only by
actual contact with the infected, comparatively few persons are
exposed to its poison. Still there is necessarily a strong and
constant visible evidence of its neighbourhood; many families are in
mourning, a general tone of dulness prevails, scarcely any of the
hundreds of travelling Americans who come up each summer have ventured
into Canada this year, while the local papers sre full of details of
the misery and death which is so near.
Last Sunday the Bishop himself performed the entire cathedral service
alone, an occurrence probably without parallel and he prefaced an
extempore sermon, by stating that with the intense labour he had to
undergo and the weekly increasing church duty consequent upon the
diminishing number of the clergy, he had been unable to find time to
write. Little else is talked about but fever and the strongest
possible dissatisfaction prevails universally, first, with the home
mismanagement which could allow the possibility of so frightful a
result of emigration and secondly, with the complete insufficiency of
the quarantine system here for the protection of the country. There is
reason enough indeed, for both complaints.
The first fever ship arrived about the 8th of May. From that time to
the present, daily and hourly, arrivals have taken place, and of those
who left their cottages this spring, to seek a new and happier home on
this side of the Atlantic, one-eighth have but wandered to their
graves. About 57,000 persons have arrived in the St. Lawrence up to
yesterday and the deaths from typhus now very nearly amount to 7,000.

The list on the 22nd instant stood as follows;
Died at sea 2,216
Died after arrival, but before landing 1,011
Died at Grosse Isle (this only extends to the 16th) 1,201
Died in the Marine Hospital in Quebec 150
Died at Montreal 1,400
Died at various places in the provinces, about 800

Though it might fairly have been expected that in the gigantic amount
of Irish emigration intended to take place this year, much increased
average of sickness would occur, especially as typhus was very
prevalent in all the shipping ports in Great Britain, it appears that
no arrangements whatever were made to prepare for it The quarantine
station was left in all its practical uselessness; one surgeon and a
few sheds constituted its whole establishment and Grosse Isle was
"kept up as a rather comfortable farm for the superintending surgeon,
than as a sanatory gateway of England’s most valued colony."
The dead, the dying, and the sick arrived; the buildings on the
island, mere outhouses at the best, were rapidly filled, and then the
luckless wretches for whom no room could be found to die under roof,
were laid on the grass in tents, with the rotten beds they had brought
from home; 400 are thus provided for, and as for some days past much
heavy rain has fallen, their present state must be one of the most
fearful misery. There are but 8 surgeons to attend 2,000 patients, and
it is said that many of them do not possess the qualifications which
so responsible a position, requires.
The convalescent, so called at least, are rapidly sent on to Montreal,
but as they die there at the rate of nearly 30 percent and carry fever
wherever they go, it is fair to suppose that many, if not all of them,
are got rid of much too soon, and rather to make room for others, than
because they are recovered themselves. In one steamer, which carried
up a party of "convalescents" from Grosse Isle to Montreal, 17 died,
though the passage did not occupy 20 hours.

Strange to say, there is regular communication between Quebec and the
quarantine station. Most people labour under tbe impression that such
a place is shut off from the rest of the world with the 'cordon
sanitaire' preserved in all its strictness around it; but here there
is generous disregard of such precautions, and an Irishman may go down
to the hospital sheds, bring away the ragged, filthy garments of his
dead wife, and carry them in a bundle pestilent with fever, through
tbe streets and into the houses of Quebec. This has been actually done
in several cases. Of course, sickness must result from such
proceedings, but there are wardens constantly occupied in the lower
town removing the infected, doing all they can to counteract the
effects of the poison by enforcing cleanliness and other similar

The sufferers are, without exception, Irish, amongst the English
emigrants scarcely a case of fever has occurred, while the Liverpool
and Cork vessels have had it worst. In many cases the fever broke out
before the ships had been a week at sea; in others, it is mainly
attributable to the infamous negligence of the masters and mates, who
frequently have never, during the whole of the voyage, once gone
below, but have left their passengers to rot in dirt and foul air,
without attempting, in the slightest degree, to make them clean their
berths or persons. In some of these ships the boarding officer at
Grosse Isle has actually had to lay down planks over the liquid filth
and dirt, which covered up the ’tween decks, to the depth of many
inches, before he could force his way to the beds in which the unhappy
passengers were dying. The food provided has sometimes been so bad,
that the flour has produced ulcers on the inside of the lips and
mouth, while the salt beef and pork has been thrown overboard as
utterly poisonous. Many vessels left Ireland and England with typhus
fever evident amongst the people before they sailed; the master of the
'Pursuit' from Liverpool, has signed a declaration that he took many
passengers on board with fever, and that he objected to them, and that
2 deaths occurred before he left the dock. The master the 'Helen' of
Sligo, certified that he sent ashore a family who had been embarked
sick; that they were re-shipped by the agent, that 2 of them died a
few days after sailing, and that the whole ship was infected by them.

With such cases as these before them, the Canadians have some reason
to complain. They ask, what are the duties of the government
emigration agents at the British ports, but to examine ships,
provisions and passengers before they sail, and to secure the latter,
as far as men can, against tbe risk of such frightful consequences? To
say that these agents do their duty with the utmost energy and
activity is most probably true enough, but how can one man in the
widest scope of possibility really perform such a duty, as it
requires. The government agent at Liverpool is said to be one of tbe
most overworked men in England, as well one of the most industrious
and energetic, but what can he do with half a dozen ships a day
sailing with 400 passengers in each?

Emigration will increase, it has increased enormously, and yet this
year some of the members of the House of Commons objected to the grant
for the support of the emigration commission, and its staff of agents.
Were there 3 times as many they would all be well occupied and
certainly the inhabitants of the colonies, as well as the poor
emigrants themselves, have a right to expect that their interests and
comforts, to say nothing of their safety, shall be carefully watched
over and provided for. That the horrible amount of death and suffering
attendant upon this year’s emigration might to a great extent have
been prevented by proper care and rigid examination at home, no one
can attempt to deny, and it is the duty of government to enable the
emigration commissioners to render the supervision for the next year
so complete that the prospect of a similar result shall be destroyed.
On the arrival of ships at Grosse Isle, if they are found to have no
epidemic or infectious disease on board, they are allowed to proceed
direct to Quebec, and it is of passengers from such vessels the
majority of the wanderers in the streets here are composed. They
present generally a most wretched appearance, but demand the most
ridiculously high wages, and many of them remain idle for a fortnight,
rather than accept a lower rate than 6 shillings a day, while the
regular pay for strong and experienced labourers does not exceed
three. It is a curious fact, and one utterly inexplicable here, that
on the dead bodies of many of the most miserable looking Irish sums of
money, varying from 5£ to 50£ have been found concealed in their
clothes; and yet these very men allowed themselves and their families
to actually expire from want of food.

The report of the provincial emigrant agents speak encouragingly of
demand for labour, but the fear of introducing fever amongst
themselves will prevent many employers from engaging this year’s
emigrants. Still, all who can and will work are rapidly absorbed and
the chief emigrant agent at this port, whose position is now one of
the utmost difficulty and labour, forwards the destitute, as far as
the funds at his disposal will allow, on to the districts where they
will most probably meet with employment; but the drain upon his
treasury for hospitals and burials, and every expense contingent upon
universal sickness and universal death, leave him but a small sum,
comparatively, to apply to the more regular and legitimate
expenditure. It is impossible to announce any expected termination to
the fever; no remedies can stop it and it will only end when it has
worn itself out.

4 Dec. 1847
Massacre of Irish Emigrants
We here received the following letter from trustworthy corespondent in America
To the Editor of the Nation
Being but recently arrived from Lower Canada, I think it my duty to
call your attention to the infamous sacrifice of the lives of the
Irish emigrant population during the present year in British America.
We understood that Lord John Russell had declared, from his place in
parliament, that the British government would be prepared to give the
emigrant every assistance on his landing in Canada. We believed that
every provision would be ready for the accommodation of the sick the
Grossc Isle quarantine station and that the quarantine laws would be
so carried out as to provide for the health of the emigrant and, at
the same time, preserve the colony from the danger of infection.
According to this view, the declaration with which Lord John Russell
had accompanied his promise - namely, that the government would give
no assistance to the emigrant in his passage to the New World,
appeared unwise, as it was manifest that the refusal to enable the
emigrant to cross the Atlantic, and land in strength and health, must
(should his lordship’s promise be fulfilled) cause expenditure in
medical attendance to the sick, and aid to those left destitute on
their recovery from sickness, equivalent to any saving in government
supervision at the time of embarkation and aid upon the passage across
the Atlantic. We were, however, mistaken, the promise held out by the
head of the government was boldly violated.
There is always a hospital capable of containing 250 patients at
Grosse Isle (the quarantine ground some 30 miles below Quebec); there
is there a doctor, appointed by government, a Scotch gentleman, named
DOUGLAS, with, I believe, one or 2 assistants; and an emigrant office
under the control of an emigrant agent in Quebec. The doctor at the
quarantine ground possesses sort of monopoly in the sale of various
articles to the sick and in fact, were he governed by self interest
would find a decided pecuniary advantage, in being as little watched,
as little assisted, and as much left alone as possible in the
discharge of his avocations. Of course Doctor DOUGLAS was not at all
actuated by such considerations in declaring, quite in accordance with
the policy of the government, which had left him without resources at
the opening of the river navigation, that he did not require aid, that
he anticipated a greater emigration, but no more sickness, than in
ordinary years, and that with 1 additional assistant, 2  additional
hospital nurses, and a few additional beds and blankets, he would be
prepared to meet the incoming emigration.
The emigration was not only unusually large, but had set in earlier
and the navigation had opened later than customary, so that many a
passenger ship had been detained (some of them for a long period) in
the ice; the emigrants were, consequently, in the utmost destitution
and had endured the greatest privations in closely crowded ship; and
being left without guidance or instruction, drank freely of the river
water, which, according to its invariable effect upon strangers,
promoted severe diarrhea. The result was that the survivors (for
numbers had been already been consigned to the deep) were in a
frightful state of fever and dysentery. It was when every effort had
been made to lull the province into false security, and while the
government 'medicus' at Grosse Isle was boasting his capacity to
grapple with the emergency, that the long retarded flood of Irish
emigration burst upon the colony. In a short period between 1,200 and
1,300 sick were placed on an island affording accommodation for only
The result can be better imagined than described. As many more were
sick on board ships in the quarantine waters. The state of these
floating charnel-houses beggars all description; filth and disease in
the steerage, death in the hold, death on the decks, death on the
companion ladders! Where was the emigration agent? Where was the
government assistance? Where was medical aid?  Where was Russell’s
promise? It is not too much to say that for some period and that not a
short one, the sick were abandoned at Grosse Isle, with the earth for
their couch, the waters for their grave, and Heaven for their canopy
and their winding sheet. At length assistants were procured and sheds
were erected and provisions given out; still the emigrants were
destined to a frightful residence, in want of air, in want of room, in
want of sufficient attendance; and the convalescent were doomed to
imprisonment upon an island, the only cleared space in which you left
them for exercise was the teeming graveyard, inasmuch as the meadows
which might have afforded them recreation were strictly forbidden them
by the doctor, lest they should tread down the grass which nourished
his cows!
But if the state of affairs at Grosse Isle was frightful, that further
up the country was worse. The quarantine laws were virtually abolished
to save the government from the consequences of their brutal neglect,
with the consent of the people of Canada, who, with the most
disinterested humanity, preferred braving all the dangers of infection
to, (by insisting on quarantine regulations), dooming the emigrants to
that which they deemed inevitable death. The result was that emigrants
were scattered throughout the whole length of Canada, from the
quarantine ground at Grosse Isle to the extreme confines of the
wilderness of Huron. Everywhere the population suffered from contagion
and sickness.
The convalescent, weakened and shaken by their sickness, were almost
disabled from exertion and then, sufferings, despite the charity and
kindness shown towards them by the population of Canada, were, you may
readily conceive, most dreadful. I was told by the best authorities
that the whole Irish emigration was stricken with fever, and that
probably one-fifth of the whole perished. I do not know, neither do
care, what the government estimates the subject to have been, but I
believe from the most competent authorities (and my means of
information were extensive), that from 60,000 to 75,000 Irish
emigrants landed in Canada and that from 12,000 to 15,000 perished,
besides great sickness and mortality suffered by our own population,
in both provinces. How many of the Irish in Canada perished by the
visitation of God? how many by wilfull and culpable neglect? And who
is responsible for the blood thus consumed by the slow fire of want
and disease, if not Lord John Russell, Prime Minister of England!
I am, Sir, yours respectfully,
A Colonist.

1847 by Dr, STRATTON
It appears 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 May and the
latest on the 8th 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.

The following table shows the Comparative Mortality among Emigrants
from Different Countries
From / Number embarked / Mortality percent
Scotland, 3,239 - 3:12
England, 32,579 - 12: 9
Liverpool 27,051 - 15:39
Cork 10,174, - 18: 73
Ireland including Liverpool, 81,370 -10:49
Continental Europe, 7,525 - 1:26

The great mortality among those sailing from Liverpool and who were
chiefly Irish, is very striking, compared with that among those from
the Continent and from Scotland. If the mortality among those from
England, exclusive of Liverpool, were shown, it would be similar to
the Scotch and German mortality.
from Edinburgh Medical and Surgical Journal, Vol. 71 1849

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