A memorial to honor the 52 Irish immigrants who died in Cornwall, Ontario’s 1847 quarantine shed and those that cared for them will be dedicated at the Cornwall Community Museum on October 18.
Dr. Ray Bassett, the Irish Ambassador to Canada, will speak at the ceremony, the Cornwall Seaway News reports.
In June 1847, Cornwall saw the arrival of 234 Irish immigrants fleeing the Irish Potato Famine. Many of the men, women and children who immigrated were suffering from typhoid and/or dysentery, and a temporary hospital, or ‘fever shed’ as they were known then, was established on Pointe Maligne, at the foot of Marlborough Street to protect Cornwall’s 1,500 inhabitants.
The hospital was there from roughly June 14 to October 18, 1847. Many of the immigrants who died were buried in a cemetery located to the east of St Columban’s Church.
"It was a short period of time, but the public health practices put in place by doctors Bergin and MacDonald (the attending physicians) meant that no one from Cornwall became a victim of typhoid or dysentery because of the Irish immigrants," Katie Burke, chair for the Cornwall Irish Memorial committee, told The Cornwall Seaway News.
The idea for the memorial began two and a half years ago when Ian Bowering, the museum’s curator, was given documents that contained a list of the names of those admitted to the hospital. The paper is considered a valuable historical document because not only were names recored, but also the age, religion, and disease of those admitted, as well as their date of admittance to the hospital, date they were discharged, if they died and the number of days they were in hospital care.
Burke said she and other members of the Cornwall Irish Memorial committee went to the Waterfront Committee for approval of the monument and a fundraising campaign was started on March 17, 2013.
"The work of getting the Celtic cross erected and the main inscription on it has been accomplished," said Burke. "Once all the bills are in, we will see where we stand financially and if possible, we would also like to inscribe the names of those who died as well as the two doctors - but that will come with time and more funding."
"The Irish Famine provided Canada with an immigration crisis that was unparalleled. It also provided the country with some very resilient people whose descendants can still be found in our community, in every walk of life, and who have contributed greatly to the making of Cornwall and Canada.”