Montreal’s Irish walked in remembrance of immigrants who landed in the city dead or dying after traveling on disease-infested ships.
The Canadian Irish community held their annual walk this past Sunday to commemorate the men, women and children who died escaping the Irish Famine.
Their annual pilgrimage takes participants from all over North America to the Irish Commemorative Stone that sits near Montreal’s Victoria Bridge.
In 1857, workers who were excavating land to build the bridge accidentally discovered a mass graveyard with thousands of coffins.
The remains were of the 6,000 Irish “coffin ship” victims.
Two years later, a 27-ton boulder was dredged from the river and placed over the site to serve as a headstone.
The stone, also known as “The Black Rock” (the stone is stained black from exhaust fumes), remains standing near the Victoria Bridge’s entrance, inscribed with a dedication to the Irish who perished on the coffin ships, and surrounded by a shamrock-laden fence.
Victor Boyle, president of the Canadian Ancient Order of Hibernians, told the Canadian Press: "It's been 150 years and we still haven't forgotten.
“I hope we'll never forget."
The annual memorial for the Irish immigrants begins with mass at a church which lies in a formerly heavily Irish neighborhood in Montreal.
After mass, participants walk 1.2 miles to the headstone marking the mass grave of Irish immigrants. A priest says a few words at the stone, and then local schoolchildren lay a wreath at the foot of the monument.