The Irish in Canada
I am Irish, that is my father’s mother was born in Ireland and her family was in the Glengarriff/Bantry Bay area of West Cork, Ireland. Two years ago was blessed to visit the land and even see where my great grandfather’s house stood…in the 1800′s. Ireland is amazing and it was as if my grandmother’s young girl spirit stood with me on the mountain tops of Cork. It was truly amazing and what a rugged land. How anyone made a living, other than by sea, on that land was beyond me!
My father’s father is French and he married my mother who arrived in Boston. My grandfather was born on Cape Breton Island but met up with my grandmother in Boston – which would not be unusual as my grandfather and his father before him, were fisherman. My grandmother’s father is listed on her birth registration as being a “carpenter’s boat builder”, so I guess you can see why this person is always longing to go home to the sea. Perhaps it is why, as well, out of the blue I’ve said, “I am like a fish out of water,” when referring to living in a big city, like Toronto, where the closest to the sea is the polluted lake which I gaze upon from high up in my penthouse.
So, St. Patrick’s Day and the Irish. How about the Irish in Canada; what’s their history like. I read a horrendous book when coming back from Ireland by a school teacher on the Irish coffin ships as they were called. They were treated harshly upon landing and locked up in something like internment camps. The horrors were finally admitted; the needless death and loss of life due to their imprisonment (so to speak) and lack of care and health provisions.
Being from Nova Scotia, I found this at The Untold Story: The Irish in Canada. Again, ostracized even in the great metropolis called Halifax, we Irish were classified as “lesser citizens” because we didn’t fit the anglicized deportment and rules, and even worse because we didn’t discriminate on who we associated with, and were best buds with the hated enemies of Anglicized Canadians, the French!
Now that’s funny, because the French were discriminated against as well; ergo the change in the spelling of my family name to include a “p” in it, to make it more “English”.
So, here’s a little bit of what I found on the Irish in Canada, and in particular in Nova Scotia. I highly recommend you visit the site. The person who put this together has a lot of information.
Happy St. Patty’s Day y’all – from Canada ‘eh.
Some at least of the departing settlers made their way back to England, while others, more numerous, sailed off to New England on one or other of the American vessels that visited the new town. Faced with the disapearance of about 40% of the settlers, among them “the greater part of the more respectable elements”, Halifax authorities had no high opinion of most of those who remained. Into the vacuum left by the departing settlers came “foreign Protestants from the Rhine, Switzerland as well as New Englanders and Irish. If the New Englanders “gradually became the core of the English speaking population”, the Irish Catholics became Halifax’s first distinct minority group.
Among the original settlers were 66 Irish families and an indeterminable number of Irish servants, perhaps mounting to 200 in all. In 1752, there were 262 persons with Irish names.
It appears that the Irish residents of early Halifax were not as docile as the British authorities would have wished. The minutes of the Council of 2 July 1751 mention that a group of Irish Catholics at Halifax had combined and were planning to go over to the Indians and the French. The incident was not an isolated one. (Many Irish went over to the French, considered the emeny by the British). A Rev Stiles of Boston stated in 1760 that Halifax had nearly 3,000 people, 1/3 of which are Irish and many of them Roman Catholic.
For the first dozen years after the foundation of Halifax, many of the Irish inhabitants evinced tendacies which did not endear them to, nor inspire the confidence of the authorities: correspondence with the French with whom the British were contesting the hegemony of America; conducting themselves in a manner that enabled even a visitor to pereive their Catholic religion; and speaking a language that the jurist Jonathan Belcher recognized as Irish Gaelic. The Irish concentrated in the south end and for years, the neighborhood was known as Irishtown while its failure to develop may reflect an official wish to prevent the growth of a potential source of discontent in the capital.