The 20th century
With such modern facilities and a world-renowned service, the future looked bright indeed for Grosse Île – all the more so because at the turn of the century, immigration to Québec City had begun reaching unprecedented levels: 100 000 new immigrants arrived in 1910, 170 000 in 1912, and 225 000 in 1914. Plans were even drawn up for a new, larger and more modern hospital complex at the station. But a series of developments combined to alter the destiny of Grosse Île once again.
World War I and the Depression that followed the 1929 crash resulted in a sharp decline in immigration to Canada. In addition, medical knowledge in the fields of microbiology and contagious diseases had made enormous strides since the turn of the century. Beginning in 1923, the hospital on Grosse Île dealt exclusively with serious illnesses (cholera, typhus, smallpox, etc.), all of which became increasingly rare. Furthermore, under international health conventions, minor infections and childhood diseases such as diphtheria, chicken-pox and measles no longer required genuine quarantine measures. Also in 1923, ship inspection was transferred from Grosse Île to Pointeau- Père, a short distance down river from Rimouski. This move, combined with the opening of the Parc Savard Hospital in Québec City (1907), contributed to the decline of the Grosse Île quarantine station, which closed down in 1937.
Shortly afterwards, during World War II, Grosse Île was used to house the Defence Research Board, which set up an experimental station on the island for the development of bacteriological weapons. In particular, a vaccine was developed against cattle plague, and intensive research was conducted on the anthrax bacillus. Following a short hiatus, experimentation at the station resumed in 1951. The Defence and Agriculture departments conducted joint research into lasting measures for warding off a potential bacteriological attack on Canadian livestock.
In 1956, the Grosse Île facilities were transferred to the Department of Agriculture, which located its Animal Pathology Division on the island. There, the unit conducted studies on animal diseases and trained personnel. Subsequently, beginning in 1965, the Contagious Diseases Division of the same department used Grosse Île as a quarantine station for import animals.
The Parc Savard Hospital, forerunner of the Hôpital du Christ-Roi in Québec City
Origin and context of the project
Quarantine and public health
1847, year of tragedy
Canadian immigration in Québec City during the years of the Grosse Île quarantine station