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The Irish Community


Tadg Cornelius O’Brennan was the first Irishman to settle in Montreal before 1661; after making a home for himself here in the city, he would eschew his Gaelic name and go by Tec Aubry.

Did you know that Lord Dorchester was of Irish descent? Before becoming the Baron of Dorchester in 1786, he went by the name of Guy Carleton. Carleton succeeded James Murray, taking on the title of Governor of the Province of Quebec in 1768.

They say that the Irish, despite being Anglophones, had an affinity for the Montrealers and Quebecois of the era. Just like the residents of our province, most of them practised Catholicism. At the time, it was more common for Anglophones to be Protestants. Soon, Irish immigrants made up a large portion of our city’s population, outnumbering those of Italian or Scottish descent, for example.

Robert and Mary Griffin, owners of the Nazareth Fief, decided to divide the land and create a multitude of building lots that would make up Griffintown in 1804.  The old blue-collar neighbourhood is very important to the history of Montreal’s Irish community. The neighbourhood was mostly home to those who fled Ireland during the famine and hoped to find a better life in Canada.  Immigration was difficult due to sickness and lengthy travel time. In the same century, the Irish community experienced a series of tragic events, including the cholera epidemic in 1832 and the outbreak of typhus in 1847. The outbreak of this disease resulted in the death of over 600 members of the Irish community in Montreal alone.

A little while later, Montreal’s Irish community would play an integral role in the building of both the Victoria Bridge and Lachine Canal; workers of Irish decent made up the majority of the crews assigned to these tasks.

Did you know that Montreal has had a number of mayors of Irish descent? Between 1868 and 1912, six businessmen of Irish descent governed our city. Many members of Montreal’s Irish community thrived in our city’s various economic sectors, making significant contributions to Montreal’s growth during the industrial revolution.

The first Saint-Patrick’s Day parade took place in 1824. 10 years later, the St-Patrick Society was founded and took charge of the parade until 1929. To this day, the parade remains one of Montreal’s most important annual events. The parade’s next edition, organized by the United Irish Societies of Montreal, takes place March 19, 2017. We’re looking forward to it!

Sources :

Archives de Montréal

Musée McCord

Canal Savoir

Histoire et Civilisation

Livre : L’espace social de Montréal, 1951-1991 – Par Pierre Drouilly

Crédit couverture: Canal Savoir Tv

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