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Grosse Île and the Irish Memorial National Historic Site of Canada

History - Statistics and more statistics

Statistical overview of immigrants who passed through the port of québec (1815-1941)
Year Number of immigrants Nationality
(1815-1828) 150 000 immigrants British
(1829-1851) 696 000 immigrants 58.5% Irish
1.8% European
(1852-1867) 398 000 immigrants 28.3% Irish
36% European
(1868-1891) 662 000 immigrants 11.1% Irish
32% non British
(1892-1914) 1 717 000 immigrants 1.0% Irish
47% non British
(1915-1941) 758 000 immigrants  

Total: 4.3 million immigrants, of which 75% arrived AFTER 1867.

N.B.: Anglophone immigrants represent 60% of all the arrivals before 1914; for the Pre-Confederation period (1867), they count for 85% of the total number of arrivals.

The total Irish immigration, which was 661 000 individuals for the period 1829-1914, represents 14% of the total number of arrivals at the Port of Québec.

Immigration and quarantine statistics the grosse île quarantine station 1832-1937
Document prepared by André Charbonneau and André Sévigny, Historians, May 1996

From 1832-1937, Grosse Île was a quarantine station for the Port of Québec which, up until World War II, was the main arrival site for immigrants coming into Canada. During this time, more than four million people passed through the Port of Québec. 1

Immigrants' Nationality

1829-1851

The data for this period does not separate the English, Irish and Scottish arriving in Québec. Only the ports where they boarded is known. Between 1829 and 1851, 696 129 immigrants arrived in Québec. Of these:

  • 191 820 (27.5%) were from English ports
  • 407 818 (58.5%) were from Irish ports
  • 75 102 (10.8%) were from Scottish ports
  • 21 389 ( 3.2%) were from elsewhere in the world

It can safely be asserted that at least 60% of immigrants coming from the British Isles between 1829 and 1851 were Irish.

1852-1914

It is not until 1852 that precise information on the nationality of immigrants can be found. Between 1852 and 1867, the Port of Québec received 398 031 immigrants. Of these:

  • 19.2% were English
  • 28.3% were Irish
  • 13.7% were Scottish
  • 14.2% were German
  • 21.2% were Scandinavian
  • 3.4% were from other countries

Between 1868 and 1891, Québec let in 662 037 immigrants. Of these:

  • 47.2% were English
  • 24.1% were Scandinavian
  • 11.1% were Irish
  • 9.7% were Scottish
  • 2.9% were German
  • 5.0% were from other countries

For 1892-1914, the available statistics do not differentiate between the ethnic origins of the immigrants from the British Isles. These people (905 823 out of 1 514 452 immigrants) made up 59.8% of immigrants arriving at the Port of Québec. Of the other:

  • 14.6% came from Eastern Europe
  • 10.8% came from Scandinavia
  • 8.3% came from Western Europe
  • 2.8% came from the Middle East
  • 3.7% came from elsewhere in the world

1915-1941

During this time, 758 666 immigrants arrived at the Port of Québec. Our ongoing research has not yet revealed the precise nationalities of this group.

Hospitalizations, Deaths and Burials at Grosse Île

Even if we know the total number of immigrants that went through the Port of Québec from 1832-1941, there are still no statistics on those who stayed at Grosse Île from 1832-1937. The available numbers show only the hospitalizations, deaths and burials recorded on the island of quarantine. 2

Between 1832 and 1913, 31 829 individuals were hospitalized at Grosse Île. At present the numbers are incomplete for the remaining period, 1914-1937.

As for the number of deaths and burials at Grosse Île, official sources as well as different registers list a total of 7 480 burials between 1832 and 1937. Of this number, more than 5 000 deaths are registered in the hospitals; the others are, for the most part, immigrants who died on boats under quarantine. To this number must be added some sailors and quarantine station employees who died while carrying out their functions. Therefore, a distinction must be made between the number of "burials" and "deaths" at Grosse Île.

1847 was by and large the most tragic year, especially for the Irish who made up the majority of immigrants at the time.

Year
Port of Québec immigration
Grosse Île patients
Grosse Île burials
1832
51 746
39
28
1833
21752
239
27
1834
30 935
844
264
1835
12 527
126
10
1836
21 722
454
61
1837
21 901
598
57
1838
3 266
65
6
1839
7 439
189
9
1840
22 234
561
45
1841
28 086
290
43
1842
44 374
488
69
1843
21 727
246
23
1844
20 142
388
22
1845
25 375
465
37
1846
32 753
892
69
Year
Port of Québec immigration
Grosse Île patients
Grosse Île burials
1847
90 150
8 691
[ 5 424 ] 5
1848
27 939
581
134
1849
39 494
859
182
1850
32 292
359
28
1851
41 079
594
70
1852
39 176
287
29
1853
36 699
278
41
1854
53 183
690
95
1855
21 274
432
37
1856
22 439
263
25
1857
32 097
417
35
1858
12 810
227
29
1859
8 778
92
0
1860
10 150
92
11
1861
19 923
341
25
1862
22 176
367
67
1863
19 419
44
1
1864
19 147
60
9
1865
21 355
33
3
1866
28 648
271
23
1867
30 757
375
24
1868
34 300
424
28
1869
43 114
494
45
1870
44 475
392
6
1871
37 020
267
8
1872
34 743
309
22
Year
Port of Québec immigration
Grosse Île patients 3
Grosse Île burials 4
1873
39 901
114
4
1874
23 894
62
4
1875
16 038
70
2
1876
10 901
1
0
1877
7 743
0
0
1878
10 295
7
0
1879
17 251
7
0
1880
24 997
0
0
1881
30 228
0
0
1882
44 850
0
0
1883
45 966
1
0
1884
31 529
2
0
1885
17 030
6
1
1886
22 782
13
3
1887
32 749
70
4
1888
28 530
54
2
1889
22 091
33
0
1890
21 165
51
1
1891
23 435
59
1
1892
27 422
150
9
1893
46 888
238
25
1894
20 989
106
4
1895
19 774
40
2
1896
19 167
30
2
1897
20 495
73
7
1898
20 842
25
2
1899
29 422
73
8
Year
Port of Québec immigration
Grosse Île patients 3
Grosse Île burials 4
1900
15 821
41
3
1901
37 832
167
4
1902
39 192
232
11
1903
58 124
324
7
1904
62 446
243
3
1905
77 443
340
4
1906
97 495
610
11
1907
62 517
634
12
1908
146 142
245
0
1909
71 218
505
13
1910
97 653
727
14
1911
162 240
838
9
1912
172 734
947
14
1913
185 758
1 568
18
1914
225 876
0
9
1915
49 431
0
2
1916
6 168
0
4
1917
6 408
0
1
1918
77
0
42
1919
287
0
0
1920
37 125
0
6
1921
65 969
0
1
1922
40 730
0
9
1923
31 717
0
0
1924
71 290
0
1
1925
59 572
0
0
1926
40 963
0
0
1927
63 792
0
0
Year
Port of Québec immigration
Grosse Île patients 3
Grosse Île burials 4
1928
64 392
0
0
1929
74 653
0
1
1930
70 688
0
0
1931
34 114
0
0
1932
6 932
0
1
1933
3 548
0
0
1934
3 063
0
1
1935
2 889
0
0
1936
2 901
0
0
1937
3 478
0
0
1938
4 930
0
0
1939
6 072
0
0
1940
5 827
0
0
1941
950
0
0
Total
4 132 154
31 829
[74 080]

1 This number, as well as those in the second column of the table below, come from the annual reports of the immigration official in Quebec. For more on this topic consult: Immigration to Canada through the Port of Québec, from the early 19th Century to World War II by André Sévigny

2 These numbers (as well as those in columns 3 and 4 of the table that follows) come from different sources: the National Archives of Canada (NAC), RG 4, C, 1, vol. 190, "Table showing the number and percentage of diseases and of death at the Quarantine Hospital from 1833-1847, both years inclusive"; NAC, RG 29, vol. 765, dossier no. 410-1-10. "Deaths at Quarantine Station, Grosse Isle", 1870-1924; Journal de l'Assemblée législative du Bas-Canada (JALBC), 1832-1833, Appendix D, "Tableau des malades qui ont été soignés à la Grosse Isle, depuis le 27 avril jusqu'au 31 octobre 1832" and "Tableau des décès qui ont eu lieu à la Grosse Isle depuis le 27 avril au 1er novembre 1832", National Archives of Quebec, Quebec depot (NAQQ), registers of births, marriages and deaths for the two chapels on Grosse Île; Parks Service (Quebec), Collections Management, Hospital registers from Grosse Île, 1878-1913 (these registers also have a table summarizing previous years); register of deaths in quarantine, 1866-1903.

3 In cases where the numbers varied in the sources, the highest number was used

4 See note 3

5 This number warrants explanation. All of the registers consulted as well as the registry offices concerning the burials at both chapels on Grosse Île, show between 3 238 and 3 253 deaths or burials in 1847 at Grosse Île. The monument commemorating the efforts of the doctors reads as follows: "In this secluded spot lie the mortal remains of 5424 persons who fleeing from Pestilence and Famine in Ireland in the year 1847 found in the America but a Grave". We also find a note in the summary of one of the hospital registers at Grosse Île the following written, more than likely, in 1897: "In 1847 the deaths in the Hospital were 3 226, the interments 5 424. The difference is made up of those who died on vessels in Quarantine, or upon landing, but before they could be entered in the hospital books."

It is paradoxical that the annual report for 1847 by the Superintendent of Grosse Île, Dr. Douglas, does not mention anything regarding these figures. The figure of 3 238 deaths at the Quarantine Hospital has since been confirmed. (See: Irish University Press, Papers Relative to Emigration to the British Provinces in North America, London, Wm. Clowes and Sons, 1848, document 2).