During the first half of the 19th century, thousands of immigrants from the British Isles arrived at the port city of Quebec. Most were fleeing poverty, famine, and overpopulation. Although most of the newcomers continued westward, a number, including many of the Irish Catholics, chose to remain in Quebec City.
In response to the sudden growth in population, the authorities encouraged the opening of new townships around the city. The Irish settled in Portneuf, Lotbinière, Dorchester, Lévis and Québec counties, north and south of the city.
In 1819, the Irish population of Quebec City numbered nearly 1000; by 1830, there were an estimated 6000 to 7000 Irish in the area, representing nearly a quarter of the total population. By 1861, 40 percent of Quebec City’s 10,000 inhabitants were English-speaking, largely because of the Irish families who by now made up 30 percent of the total population.
As early as 1817, Irish Catholic priests were tending to the Irish at Notre Dame Cathedral, and also probably at the Diamond Harbour Parish and the Church of the Nativity in nearby Beauport. The first annual Saint Patrick Mass was most likely celebrated in 1819 in the Congregationalist Chapel in Quebec City.
The earliest church record I was able to trace regarding the Irish of the Québec City region was in 1736 in the parish of Saint Augustin in nearby Saint Augustin de Desmaures in Portneuf County. Notre Dame in Quebec City claims to have records of Irish births, marriages and burials as early as 1728. After the Battle of the Plains of Abraham in 1759, English-speaking Catholics of Irish-Scottish-British origin were identified as such.
Please note: The use of the term Irish Catholic Churches in this research guide does not imply that parishioners were mostly of Irish descent; rather, at one point in time, a minimum of 10% of the acts of baptism, marriage, death at a church addressed Irish immigrants or their descendants.
Furthermore, especially during the early days following the arrival of the Irish in the Quebec City region, the registers showing baptism, marriage and death can only be found through the church records of Notre-Dame Cathedral, even though these acts may have occurred in another small church in the region.
At the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ) in Montréal and Quebec Ciity, one can find multiple index books of Catholic marriages, baptisms and deaths. I selected the parishes I felt qualified as Irish churches (10 percent or more of baptisms, marriages and deaths) from these records.
For detail on the parishes that served people of Irish descent in and around Quebec City, click on the link to access the PDF: Irish Catholic Churches of Quebec City
For more background, see,