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Management Plan

Communication of site messages of national historic significance

Another yardstick for measuring the commemorative integrity of a site is the communication of messages of national historic significance. Grosse Île and the Irish Memorial National Historic Site of Canada is a site under development. Over the last several years, a range of facilities and services have been set up to communicate the three major themes associated with the site’s commemorative intent, but remain as yet incomplete.

The delivery of heritage experiences to audiences has been partially the responsibility of Parks Canada staff and partially that of the heritage interpreters of the Grosse Île Development Corporation, a community organization. The current interpretation services consist mainly of a guided tour through the once-occupied sectors of the island, and stress the history of the quarantine station as reflected by the most evocative works and buildings. The offering is adapted according to the varying lengths of time visitors have for visiting the island. In addition, an educational program was specially designed for Grade 5 students; this program is different from the usual guided tour and is adapted to the needs of this specific audience. For several years now, visitors have enjoyed free access (without the accompaniment of a guide) to the western part of the island. A printed brochure has been prepared with these visitors in mind. Heritage interpreters are posted in the immediate vicinity of both the Celtic cross and the Memorial.

The complex, content-rich theme of immigration is dealt with only superficially by heritage interpreters. A good introduction to this theme is offered through the exhibits displayed in the disinfection building, which has been open to the public since 1997. However, communication tools adapted to fully cover this major theme will have to be implemented before the objectives of communicating messages of national historical significance can be achieved. In the meantime, Parks Canada acquired from the Musée de la Civilisation du Québec a thematic exhibit dealing with the phenomenon of immigration. This exhibit was spread out over two buildings: the third-class hotel and the kitchen. As well, efforts have been made to contact the 43 ethnic communities that at one time transited through the port of entry represented by Québec City.

Since the 1990s, Parks Canada has been criticized in various quarters for its presentation of the Irish dimension of Grosse Île history. During the last several years, however, significant improvements have been made on that score (introduction of this theme in the disinfection building; interpreters posted in the western sector; restoration of the Irish cemetery and creation of the Memorial; special publications 18 ). With the coming installation in the lazaretto of an exhibit dealing with the 1847 epidemic, interpretation of the theme related to the Irish tragedy can be considered as completed.

The project of communicating the history of the quarantine station remains as yet incomplete. Although several aspects of this theme have been successfully developed in the disinfection building, others have been touched on only superficially, for example the organization and logistics of operating the station, the staff on site and their duties and daily life in the village.

18. In 1997, as part of the special program designed to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the tragedy of 1847, Parks Canada, brought out two publications, one dealing with the everyday events surrounding the summer of 1847 and the other providing a list of the deaths that occurred at sea or on the island.

Analysis of the current situation

Ownership and legal context
Commemorative integrity of the site
Condition of landscapes and level-1 resources
Communication of site messages of national historic significance
General status
Impacts of activities past and present
Public visitation and use
Visitation figures
Facilities and services
Regional tourism context