Partridge Island Quarantine Station National Historic Site of Canada
Saint John, New Brunswick
© Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, Cameron.
Partridge Island, Saint John, New Brunswick
Historic Sites and Monuments Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. H-4)
1872 to 1901
1830 to 1901
Event, Person, Organization:
Irish potato famine
1847 Typhus epidemic
Partridge Island Quarantine Station
Existing plaque: Saint John, New Brunswick
The City of Saint John established a quarantine station on the island in 1830 in an effort to prevent smallpox spreading from a ship carrying Irish immigrants. However, the station's medical and quarantine facilities were to prove inadequate in containing contagious diseases. Consequently in the mid-19th century, epidemics often spread from the island station to the mainland populace, the most devastating being typhus and cholera. The Canadian government took over the station in 1867 and operated it until 1941, when it was finally replaced by facilities in Saint John.
Description of Historic Place
Partridge Island Quarantine Station National Historic Site of Canada comprises Partridge Island at the entrance to Saint John harbour, approximately 1 kilometre from the shore of west Saint John, New Brunswick. The designation refers to the island’s landscapes, and remains associated with the former quarantine station.
Partridge Island Quarantine Station was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1974 because of: the significant role it played in immigration to Canada, and more specifically to the Maritime Provinces, in the 19th century.
The heritage value of Partridge Island Quarantine Station National Historic Site of Canada lies in its historic role as a 19th-century quarantine station as illustrated by the site, setting and landscape of the island and the quarantine-related remains it contains. Partridge Island was one of two major quarantine stations in 19th-century Canada. Established in 1830 to protect Canadian citizens from contagious diseases carried by in-coming ships, the station provided treatment for immigrants and crewmembers who were ill, as well as purification facilities for the healthy passengers aboard the ships. This station was active during a particularly early and busy period of Canadian immigration. During 1847, 2000 Irish immigrants fleeing from the potato famine were quarantined here during a typhus epidemic. 601 of them are buried in a mass grave on the island. Passengers quarantined on this island eventually settled in New Brunswick, Upper Canada and the United States.
Partridge Island continued to be used as a quarantine station until 1941. It was occupied for the military defence of Saint John during both World Wars, and also used as a light station. All buildings on the island were demolished in 1955 and 1998-1999. Today the site contains remnants of buildings and structures associated with its important role as a 19th-century quarantine station, including those of the doctor’s residence (built ca. 1872), the 2nd class immigrants, marine officers’ and smallpox hospitals (1899-1901), a low water wharf, and a cemetery containing graves from the 1847 typhus epidemic.
Sources: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, May 1974, June 1983, June 1984; Commemorative Integrity Statement, March 2001.
Key elements contributing to the heritage value of this site include: the isolated location of Partridge Island at the mouth of Saint John Harbour; the footprints and profiles of remnants of the former 19th-century quarantine station buildings and structures, in particular the integrity of the footprint, form, materials and construction technology of the found remains of the doctor’s residence (its foundation, exterior walkway and steps), of the found remains of the 2nd-class travelers, marine officers’ and smallpox hospitals (1899-1901), of the submerged early low-water wharf, of the area and grave markers of the island’s early cemetery; the spatial inter-relationships between and among these known 19th-century quarantine station remnants; the integrity of any unidentified archaeological remnants of the 19th-century quarantine station that may exist; the spatial relationships between remnants of the 19th-century quarantine station, the 20th-century quarantine station, and the former military defence facilities and lighthouse station structures; the continued association of the knowledge residing in historic objects removed from the station with the history of the 19th-century quarantine station itself; the viewscapes from the island to the town of Saint John, to Saint John Harbour and its approaches.