Parks Canada

Parks Canada

May 08, 2009 15:10 ET

Federal Government Invests in Key Heritage and Tourism Infrastructure at Grosse Ile and the Irish Memorial National Historic Site of Canada

Canada's Economic Action Plan supporting tourism in the Chaudière-Appalaches region

MONTMAGNY, QUEBEC--(Marketwire - May 8, 2009) - The Honourable Jim Prentice, Canada's Environment Minister and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, today announced a federal investment in visitor infrastructure at Grosse Ile and the Irish Memorial National Historic Site of Canada, under Canada's Economic Action Plan.

"Canada's Economic Action Plan is our government's plan to stimulate our economy during the global recession," said Minister Prentice. "These projects will help to maintain the quality of visitor services and achieve the commemorative intent of this unique historic site, thereby helping to strengthen tourism."

Canada's Economic Action Plan sets aside $75 million for improvements to visitor facilities in Canada's national parks and national historic sites over the next two years and another $75 million for the protection of national historic sites during the same time period.

Of these amounts, $1 million will be invested in Grosse Ile and the Irish Memorial National Historic Site of Canada. The money will be used to preserve some of the heritage buildings presented to visitors. The work will include stabilization of the assistant physician's house, repairs to the roof of the third-class hotel and facade repairs on the first-class hotel.

The first, second and third class hotels were built to accommodate passengers presumed to be healthy during their quarantine observation period. Passengers were assigned a specific hotel based on the class in which they traveled on the ships. Passengers who were sick upon arrival at Grosse Ile were sent to the hospital section of the island.

"Grosse Ile and the Irish Memorial deserve a prominent place in Canada's nation-wide system of national parks and national historic sites," said Minister Prentice. "Telling the story of Grosse Ile, is telling the story of men and women who developed preventative medicine and public health in Canada but even more, it is telling the story of generations of immigrants who chose to make Canada their country."

Grosse Ile, an island in the middle of the St. Lawrence River, served as a quarantine station for the city of Quebec from 1832 to 1937 and as the main point of entry for immigrants to Canada until the First World War.

This history of Grosse Ile is marked especially by its connection to the Great Irish Famine, and the emigration of thousands of Irish men, women and children to Canada in 1847. For many of those who had left Ireland to escape the diseases and starvation devastating the Irish population, the tragedy continued as they traveled to Quebec: over 5 000 people died at sea, and 5 424 people were buried at Grosse Ile. Thousands more died in cities elsewhere in Canada.

The year 2009 marks the 100th anniversary of the Celtic cross, which was erected on the island in 1909 to commemorate the Irish immigrants who died during the epidemic.

Also available on the Internet at under the heading Media Room.

Contact Information

  • Office of the Minister of the Environment
    Frederic Baril
    Press Secretary
    Parks Canada - Quebec
    Lise Rochette
    Communications Advisor