The Immigrants Stone at Pointe St. Charles
The attention of the observant traveler entering Montreal by way of the Victoria Bridge is always attracted to a peculiar monument that stands to the east side, close to the entrance of the bridge. It is simply a boulder set upon a granite pedestal and surrounded by a grassy plot .
The boulder bears an inscription reading:
TO PRESERVE FROM DESECRATION THE REMAINS OF THE THE 6000 IMMIGRANTS WHO DIED OF SHIP FEVER A.D. 1847-48
THIS STONE IS ERECTED BY THE WORKMEN OF MESSRS. PETO. BRASSEY & BETTS. EMPLOYED IN THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE VICTORIA BRIDGE A.D. 1859
Possibly the largest migration of human beings from one continent to another, ever recorded, was that of the Irish people from their native land to Canada in 1847 and 1848.
The condition of the sick at Grosse Île was pitiable in the extreme and as the station became overwhelmed by the continuous arrival of the ships, the seemingly unaffected arrivals were dispatched to Quebec City, and Montreal. So stressing was the problem that necessary precautions were waived for the "seemingly well."
These so called, "seemingly well" people crowded to capacity onto steamships for their continued voyage. In the 48 hour passage to Montreal, the plague broke out in all its advanced virulent and by their time of arrival at Point St. Charles, dead, dying and increasingly nauseous people lay upon their decks.
Scenes of Grosse Île were re-enacted at Pointe St. Charles with boat after boat ascending the river and unloading thousands. Authorities were overwhelmed and only hurried attention could be provided to the sick by the Grey Nuns and the citizens of Montreal.
It is a sad and terrible tale of the great migration of the Irish people, so little known but vaguely remembered by their sons today. It is the story of Ireland's fall in the height of her aspirations to national realization.
Every year, the Montreal Division of the A.O.H. organizes a common orative mass and march to the stone through the streets of Montreal in conjunction with other Irish-Canadian societies. All are welcome to attend.
Please contact us with any questions you may have about this, or any other event the Ancient Order of Hibernians participates in throughout the year.