Genealogy, Immigration, Quebec, Quebec City

The Irish Catholic Churches in Quebec City

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,

http://www.irishheritagequebec.net/the-celtic-cross/

https://www.ville.quebec.qc.ca/en/citoyens/patrimoine/quartiers/vieux_quebec/interet/immigration_au_port_de_quebec.aspx

https://www.ville.quebec.qc.ca/en/citoyens/patrimoine/quartiers/saint_jean_baptiste/interet/irlandais_origine_quebec.aspx

http://saintpatrickquebec.com/en/quebec-and-the-irish/

http://www.themetropolitain.ca/articles/view/494

 

Genealogy, Quebec

Irish Catholic Churches in Lanaudière and Yamaska

Berthier, Champlain, Joliette, Maskinongé, Montcalm, Nicolet, St-Maurice, Terrebonne, Yamaska Counties

In May, 2014, Genealogy Ensemble posted my research guide to Irish Catholic churches in Quebec. At almost 120 pages, the PDF document is a bit unwieldy, so recently I decided to update the guide and break it into more manageable chunks.

The PDF following this introduction is the first in a series of seven research guides regarding Catholic churches across rural Quebec, Montreal and Quebec City that served the province’s large Irish population.

Irish roots go deep in Quebec. At the end of the 1600s, an estimated five percent of the 2,500 families in New France were Irish. Between 1816 and 1860, a massive number of new immigrants arrived in Canada, and 60 percent of them were Irish. Most of those who were Protestant settled in to Upper Canada or the United States, but most of those who were Catholic remained in Montreal or Quebec City, while others moved into rural areas of Quebec.

The inclusion of a church in this guide does not imply that its parishioners were mostly of Irish descent; rather, it means that, at one point in time, a minimum of 10 percent of the acts of baptism, marriage and death addressed Irish immigrants or their descendants.

This guide focuses on the area that is known today as the Lanaudière, northeast of Montreal on the north shore of the St. Lawrence River, as well as the Nicolet-Yamaska region, between the St. Lawrence and the American border. These are the rural counties of Berthier, Champlain, Joliette, Maskinongé, Montcalm, Nicolet, St-Maurice, Terrebonne and Yamaska, There are several small cities in the area including Trois-Rivières, Joliette and Shawinigan, as well as Saint-Jérôme.

At least one prominent individual who helped to develop this vast area had links with the Irish community. He was businessman Edouard Scallon (1813-1864), whose father immigrated to the Yamaska region from Ireland in 1810.

Scallon moved to L’Industrie (now Joliette) as a young man and went into partnership with the local seigneur, or landowner. He worked primarily as a lumber merchant. He was also involved in a plan to build a railroad, he built a sawmill and a flour mill, and he was a land speculator and money lender.

He died suddenly at age 51, leaving much of his fortune to fund the construction of a trade school, and to the Sisters of Providence for the expansion of the hospital built on land he had already given them.

In 18th century, James Cuthbert (c.1719-1798), a Scottish-born army officer, merchant, justice of the peace, and legislative councilor, touched the lives of many Irish settlers and others.

He first came to Quebec as an officer in the British Army, and remained after the French were defeated and Quebec became a British colony. He left the army in 1765, bought the seigneury of Berthier and had a manor-house built there.

Over the next 25 years, Cuthbert acquired several other seigneuries. Eventually, his land stretched about 50 miles along the St Lawrence River. Irish, Acadian, British, American, French Canadian and a few Germanic families were censitaires, or tenant farmers, on the seigneuries belonging to him.

Cuthbert became a very wealthy man, however, he was often difficult to get along with and had many disagreements with government officials. Because of this, he had little political influence.

Around 1787, Cuthbert, a Presbyterian, built one of the first Protestant churches in the colony, St Andrew’s Church at Berthier. His censitaires were nearly all Catholic, so in 1766, he donated land in the parish of Saint-Cuthbert for a Catholic church there. Several years later, he also supplied stone for the church building, a painting of his patron saint and two bells. In the 1780s he donated land and materials for the construction of the Catholic church of Sainte-Geneviève.

Link to PDF document: Irish Catholic Churches Lanaudiere and Yamaska

For a map of the area, see Google maps, Lanaudière

For more information, see the Dictionary of Canadian Biography online,

Edouard Scallon http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/scallon_edouard_9F.html  

James Cuthbert   http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/cuthbert_james_4F.html