Genealogy, Immigration, Ireland, Montreal, Quebec

Irish Catholic Churches in Montreal

Every year, the city of Montreal hosts a huge St. Patrick’s Day parade that brings people by the thousands to the downtown streets to celebrate their real or imagined Irish heritage. In fact, many Montrealers do have Irish roots that go back centuries.

In 1700, around 130 of the 2,500 families in New France, or roughly 5%, were Irish, and there was massive immigration from Ireland to North America between 1816 and 1860. By 1871, the Irish were the second largest ethnic group in Canada after the French.

The year 1847 was a tragic one as the Irish fled poverty and starvation in their homeland and died of disease before they arrived in Canada. Almost 3900 are buried at Grosse Île, an island in the St. Lawrence River northeast of Quebec City; another 5,000 are buried at the so-called fever sheds near the Montreal waterfront. Many children who became orphans at this time were adopted by French families, but kept their Irish names.

The early Irish of Montreal resided in the central part of the city. Over time, they moved westward, eastward and northward into Saint Ann’s, Saint Mary’s, Saint Antoine’s, Saint James’, Saint Lawrence’s and Saint Louis Wards. They were the primary residents in districts such as Griffintown, Point-St-Charles, St. Henry, Verdun and Ville Émard. Other Irish families eventually moved east into the Rosemount and Hochelaga districts.

Prior to the establishment of St-Patrick’s church in 1847 and St-Ann in 1854, the main churches of the Irish in Montreal were Notre Dame de Bon Secours, the Church of the Récollet Fathers and Notre Dame Basilica.

When I identify a church as being Irish Catholic in this research guide, I do not mean to imply that parishioners were mostly of Irish descent. It does suggest that, at one point in time, a minimum of 10% of the acts of baptism, marriage and death records addressed Irish immigrants or their descendants.

Especially during the early years, acts of baptism, marriage and death that took place at most of the smaller parishes in the Montreal region were registered in the records of Notre-Dame Church. For example, a baptism or marriage might have been held in Griffintown, but the act would have been included in the Notre-Dame-de-Montréal records.

The attached research guide lists the churches in which the Irish presence was appreciable, or parishes that were inaugurated by members of the Irish community. The years in brackets reflect the year I was able to ascertain as being the beginning of the Irish-Scottish-British presence in these Catholic churches. I reached my conclusions following several years of research on more than 3,000 books addressing marriages and baptisms at the Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ) in Old Montreal.

This research guide includes descriptions of the parishes where Irish Catholics attended church in the Montreal region, as well as a list of the cemeteries where many of them were buried. It also includes a list of recommended books and articles, and a list of repositories including archives and museums, online resources and other local sources of information. It is part of a series of research guides to Irish family history resources across the province of Quebec.

To access the PDF research guide to Irish Catholic Churches of Montreal, click on the link:

Irish Catholic Churches in Montreal from 1815

Genealogy, Immigration, Quebec, Resources Outside of Montreal

Irish Catholic Churches in the Eastern Townships of Quebec

Drummond, Richmond, Sherbrooke, Stanstead Counties

Introduction

From 1815 to 1824, an estimated 50,000 Irish immigrants arrived at the Port of Quebec, and 150,000 more arrived between 1829 and 1837. Many kept going, settling in the United States or Upper Canada, but some moved into the rolling hills of Quebec’s Eastern Townships. The region, which is often known by its French name, l’Estrie or Cantons de l’Est, includes Drummond, Richmond, Sherbrooke and Stanstead counties.

In order to determine where Irish Catholic immigrants settled in Quebec, I reviewed hundreds of books of marriages, baptisms and deaths in Catholic parishes of Quebec. These books are kept at the Bibliothèque Archives nationales du Québec in Montreal (BAnQ Vieux-Montréal). I also reviewed microfilms there. I did most of this work between 2006 and 2009, and carried out a further review in 2014.

Please note: When I identify a church as being an Irish Catholic Church in this research guide, I do not mean to imply that parishioners were mostly of Irish descent. Rather, I mean that, at one point in time, at least 10 percent of the acts of baptism, marriage and death within a particular parish addressed Irish immigrants or their descendants.

townships map

If you are exploring your family’s history in the Eastern Townships, you may find useful material at the Eastern Townships Resource Centre (ERTC) in Lennoxville, http://www.etrc.ca/ For over 30 years, the ETRC has been a center for the study of the Eastern Townships of Quebec. The ERTC preserves the documentary heritage of the Eastern Townships and serves as a resource for local heritage organizations.

The ETRC Archives preserves and gives access to collections that illustrate the development of the Eastern Townships’ English-speaking community. Thousands of documents, such as diaries, letters, minute books, photographs, postcards, maps, plans and audio-visual material, are made available to researchers. It also provides assistance to genealogists tracing their family roots. You can find out how to contact the ERTC at the end of this research guide.

The guide includes a brief description of the churches in Drummond, Richmond, Sherbrooke and Stanstead counties that the Irish settlers attended, a list of the cemeteries where many of them were buried, a list of authors, articles and books on the Irish communities of the region, a list of repositories and archives where the records relevant to these communities are kept, and websites that may be of use to family history researchers. I will cover other Eastern Townships region counties in separate posts on Genealogy Ensemble.

To explore the PDF covering the Irish Catholic Churches of Drummond, Richmond, Sherbrooke and Stanstead Counties, click on the link:

Irish Catholic Churches in Quebec’s Eastern Townships

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

Quebec, Research tips

The Irish Catholic Churches of Quebec

St. Brendan Parish in Rosemont
St. Brendan Parish in Rosemont

 

Here’s a guide to the Irish Catholic Churches of Quebec.

Use this guide to find out where the documents you want to find are located. You can also find photos of the church parishes your ancestors attended.

See: the-irish-catholic-churches-of-quebec

This compilation was edited on Nov. 21, 2018. A new version will be coming in 2019.