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Grosse Île and the Irish Memorial National Historic Site of Canada

On-Line Visit

Grosse Île at a glance - Centre Sector

The Upper Block (Sailor's Quarters)

The Upper Block
The Upper Block
© Parks Canada / P. Gauthier

Located at the far end of Cholera Bay, this multiple-dwelling house was built in 1905. With its four units of two living quarters each, the residence resembles urban row houses erected at the turn of the century. Initially, a long one-storey shed, which included the summer kitchen for each living quarter, was set up five metres behind the building. The upper block housed sailors who worked at the quarantine station as well as their families. These navigators were therefore near the wharf and their work on the quarantine station's boats.


The Central Cemetery
The Central Cemetery The Central Cemetery
© Parks Canada / Israël Gamache

In 1868, a new cemetery covering one and a quarter acres was set up east of Cholera Bay. A little over a hundred people are buried there.


House of the public works officer

House of the public works officer
House of the public works officer
© Parks Canada / P. Gauthier

Built in 1912, the house of the public works officer was part of an intensive construction period at Grosse Île. Its resident was responsible for maintaining the island’s buildings and related infrastructure and the construction of new facilities.


The Anglican Presbytery
The Anglican Presbytery The Anglican Presbytery
© Parks Canada / Fonds Gamache

The Anglican Presbytery was built in 1885-1886 and destroyed by fire on February 20, 1943.


The Anglican Chapel
The Anglican Chapel
The Anglican Chapel
© Parks Canada / P. Gauthier

Built in 1877-1878 in the central sector of the island, but away from the village, the Anglican chapel was made of wood and set on masonry pillars. This neo-Gothic-style chapel has a tower in the front part which contained the vestry. Inside, the geometric patterns of the stained-glass windows gave the chapel natural, yet subdued, lighting. Today, the chapel is still completely furnished and continues to house the pulpit. The Anglican and Catholic chapels reflect community life at the quarantine station. Although immigrants did not have access to the chapels, their presence bears witness to the importance of the spiritual guidance offered to immigrants.


Saint-Luc-de-Grosse-Île village
Saint-Luc-de-Grosse-Île village
Saint-Luc-de-Grosse-Île village
© Parks Canada / Fonds Gilles Pruneau

St-Luc-de-la-Grosse-Île was a village of quarantine station workers, some of whom lived on the island year-round. The village met their needs with a school, post office, bakery, and two chapels - one Catholic and the other Anglican. Unfortunately, many of its buildings no longer exist.


The Superintendent's House
The Superintendent's House The Superintendent's House
© Parks Canada / Fonds soeur Pierette Boulet

Built in 1872, this magnificent Victorian-style residence was the fourth official quarantine station superintendent's residence. It was destroyed by fire in 1925.


The Battery
The Battery The Battery
© Parks Canada / Hélène Boucher

Composed of three pieces of artillery, the battery was put into place during the spring of 1832. With the exception of one gun still on its original carriage, these artillery pieces have lost their carriages, and the wooden platforms on which the pieces stood were reconstructed in concrete at the beginning of the 20th century. The role of the guns was to remind ships that they had a mandatory stop to make at Grosse Île; they were therefore major players in the proper running of the quarantine station, most notably during its first few years. Today, this battery is a reminder that from 1832 to 1857, the quarantine station was under military jurisdiction.


The Catholic Chapel
The Catholic Chapel
The Catholic Chapel
© Parks Canada / P. Gauthier

The Catholic chapel, built of wood in 1874, is located in the centre of Grosse Île. The building, which has a small sacristy at the back, was the first building on the island to be built on a solid foundation rather than on pillars. The outside of the chapel has undergone very few changes since it was first erected. However, the inside was built in two phases: the decorative ceiling vault was part of the original construction, whereas the panelling, cornice, and general interior decor were constructed in 1886. All the chapel objects and the furniture have been preserved.


The Catholic Presbytery
The Catholic Presbytery The Catholic Presbytery
© Parks Canada / Hélène Boucher

The Catholic presbytery was built in 1848, underwent major repairs in 1878, and was renovated in 1913. Originally, the building was a one-story cottage topped with a hip roof. In 1913, a second story was added by lifting the original roof and setting it back in place once the construction was complete. At the end of the 19th century, a barn and stable, a hangar, a shed (now connected to the presbytery), and latrines were built to the north and east of the building. The structure was first used as the residence of the island's military commander (1848-1857). The building was transformed into a presbytery in 1874 when the Catholic chapel was set up nearby. Along with the chapel and statue of the Virgin Mary, the Catholic presbytery vividly reveals not only the presence of a parish and village on Grosse Île but also the role played by the parish priest in the lives of the employees and immigrants.


The Marconi Station
The Marconi Station The Marconi Station
© Parks Canada / Services techniques

Built in 1919, the Marconi station (or T.S.F.) is a small building with a double-sided roof. It is set back from the road, close to the river and not far from the physicians' residence. The utilitarian role of the building is reflected in its interior arrangement: the console and its operator were in the western half, and the generator and washroom were in the eastern half. The Marconi station replaced the old telegraph office between 1885 and 1892. The building shows the technological advancement in communications as well as the daily operations of a human quarantine station such as Grosse Île.


The Physicians' Residence
The Physicians' Residence
The Physicians' Residence
© Parks Canada / P. Gauthier

Built in 1912, this brick house includes two floors and habitable attics; its four-sided roof, truncated at the top, counts many dormer windows. This foursquare house, which faces the river, is monumental, symmetrical, and offers maximum space and comfort. The physicians' residence was built because of the huge number of immigrants that arrived in Quebec before 1915. At the time of its construction, the number of hospitalizations on Grosse Île had quadrupled since the beginning of the century; the hiring of more physicians became essential.


The School
The School The School
© Parks Canada

Built in 1909, this building served as a school until the 1950s. At first, the teacher's quarters were on the first floor. However, the attics were soon transformed into bedrooms. An extension at the back served as a porch for the students. The washrooms were also located on the porch. This school, along with the presbytery, Catholic chapel, and the vestiges of the post office, bears witness to the village that occupied this area of the island.


The bakery
The bakery The bakery
© Parks Canada / Fonds Lucienne Masson

A bakery was built in the heart of the village in 1877. Members of the Masson family occupied the building for 45 years; it was destroyed between 1945 and 1947.


Residence of the Medical Bacteriologist
Residence of the Medical Bacteriologist Residence of the Medical Bacteriologist
© Parks Canada

Like the physicians' residence, of which it is a carbon copy, this brick house, built in 1912, is imposing and symmetrical and offers maximum space and comfort. It accommodated the medical bacteriologist who worked in the nearby laboratory. This residence emerged in the context of the pre-1915 surge of immigrants in Québec. When it was built, hospitalizations on Grosse Île had quadrupled since the beginning of the century and additional doctors thus had to be hired.


The Laboratory
The Laboratory
The Laboratory
© Parks Canada / P. Gauthier

A bacteriological laboratory was constructed in 1913, comprising an autopsy and bacteriology rooms, a laboratory, and two other rooms. Doctor Heagerty researched a smallpox vaccine in the building and analyzed immigrant blood samples and the chemical and bacteriological content of water and milk for the presence of bacilli and contaminants.


The Nurses' Residence
The Nurses' Residence The Nurses' Residence
© Parks Canada

Built in 1912, this semi-detached residence housed nurses. The one-and-a-half-storey wooden building has one shed symmetrically attached on each side. The residence is composed of two similar appartments (on a reversed plan) which show a concern for comfort. With the surrounding laboratory and two physicians' residences, the nurses' residence is an extension of the village. It bears witness to the major rearrangements to the quarantine station at the beginning of the 20th century.


The Marine Hospital Superintendent's House
The Marine Hospital Superintendent's House The Marine Hospital Superintendent's House
© Parks Canada

The residence was built in 1908-1909 and was closely tied to hospital operations, being located next to the Marine Hospital. The hospital's superintendent, Jos Brautigham, first inhabited the residence. The house's location was also important because it marked the division between the village sector of the island (the centre sector) and the east sector (the quarantine sector). The building's peculiar window arrangements - six on the northeast wall, three on the main floor and three upstairs - was contrary to popular Quebec architecture of the period, which tended towards windowless walls or at least minimal openings to the outdoors. Mr. Brautigham's windows looked upon the Marine Hospital, probably to improve supervision of his workplace.