The Government of Canada is committed to the protection and presentation of our heritage. As the Minister responsible for Parks Canada, it is my responsibility to safeguard the integrity of our national historic sites. Accordingly, it gives me great pleasure to approve this management plan for Grosse Île and the Irish Memorial National Historic Site of Canada.
The history of Grosse Île must be told to Canadians. Today a national historic site, this one time quarantine station has been a unique witness to the great waves of immigration occurring from the 19th century into the early 20th. As part of the effort to combat contagious diseases, thousands of newcomers to Canada had to make a halt on the Island. Once cleared, they fanned out to all corners of the country where they proceeded to settle and shape their homeland after their own fashion.
Grosse Île was the setting of a human drama that involved the thousands of immigrants who, in 1847, left their native Ireland in hopes of a better future. After a long, trying voyage, many finally succumbed to typhus ; for them, Grosse Île was not a point of entry but rather a final resting place. Grosse Île also tells the story of an extraordinary public outpouring of generosity toward the Irish immigrants. Numerous French-Canadian families took in hundreds of orphans, while doctors, nurses and members of the clergy and the religious orders devoted themselves heart and soul to the sick and the dying.
Based largely on the recommendations of an advisory committee formed after public hearings in 1992 and 1993, this management plan will help to ensure the commemorative integrity of Grosse Île and the Irish Memorial National Historic Site of Canada and guide an extensive project of commemoration and heritage development. Many thanks are owed to the members of the committee, Ms. Jean Burnet, the late Dr. Jean Hamelin, Ms. Marianna O'Gallagher, and the chairman, Dr. Larkin Kerwin, for their valuable assistance and the many Canadians who shared their comments and suggestions.
The development of Grosse Île will take several years. Partners from the private and public sectors, and the general public will be invited to collaborate with Parks Canada on this project, particularly with respect to financing and operating the site.
The story of Grosse Île beckons to us at the present time. There, where solidarity and generosity were offered to others without regard for a person's country of origin, we may find striking examples of the values we share today. It is my hope that Grosse Île, a haven of care and solidarity in days past, will become an ongoing source of inspiration for current and future generations of Canadians.
Grosse Île and the Irish Memorial National Historic Site of Canada is one in a system of over 850 national historic sites, through which we learn about and share the story of our country. As places where we commemorate our past, they contribute to an ongoing understanding of Canada's national identity.
Minister of Canadian Heritage