Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Foulons School (Diamond Harbor School) 1816 - 1884

Former Foulons School - 1946

Foulons School served the largely Irish Catholic population of Cap - Blanc from 1816 to 1884.

In the early 19th century, many working-class Irish Catholics settled around Cap - Blanc. Most worked as longshoreman, shipbuilders, and sailors. By 1861, these English speaking Catholics represented about three-fourths of the neighborhood's population.

To meet the needs of theis growing population, Father Joseph Signay, the Catholic priest of Notre-Dame-de-Quebec, paid to set up a boy's school in the area. The building was destroyed by fire in 1839, and a new building designed by Thomas Baillairge went up in its place.

In 1849, the Brothers of the Christian Schools, who also ran the Clacis School, took over. A chapel was added soon after which eventually became the Irish-Catholic Church Our Lady of Perpetual Help. The school came to be known as the Foulons School or, the Catholic Diamond Harbor School. It offered classed in French and English, but most classes were in English. By the 1880's there were only 4 Francophone children in the school with over 200 English speakers.

By 1884, classes were moved to St. Patrick's School in the Upper Town but the chapel remained until the 1960's.

(c)2016 Linda Sullivan-Simpson

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Champlain Street Methodist Chapel - 1830 - 1841

Champlain Street Methodist Chapel was set up for Methodists living near the harbor in the Cap - Blanc neighborhood.

In 1830 a Methodist chapel was founded to afford the means of grace to many of the sailors who visited the port during the summer and were pre-disposed to attend divine worship.

The chapel was financed by Peter Langlois, one of the city's first immigrant Methodists, who arrived from Guernsey in 1806. It was open during the shipping season until 1841, when it was closed as a result of rock slides in the area.

The building was destroyed by the rock slide of 1889.

- courtesy Archives of Quebec

Monday, June 27, 2016

Champlain Street - Quebec City

I've mentioned my Irish great-grandparents in previous posts. My great-grandfather George Burns was a stevedore working the timber wharves. My great-grandmother, Elizabeth and he had 4 children, the youngest of which was my grandmother, Bertha.

I can't say for sure they ever lived on Petit Champlain Street but they lived close by, my grand-father helped in the rescue of the 1899 rock slide.


Champlain Street was known as early as 1716. It was the prolongation of De Meulles Street, now called Rue du Petit Champlain.

Champlain Street runs along a narrow terrace bordered on one side by the steep cliff face of the Quebec City promontory and, on the other, by the St. Lawrence River, which is very deep there and usually roiled by strong currents.

Champlain Street, seen here, is located in Quebec City's lower town, below the promontory called Cap Diamant. Many dockworkers lived in this area in the 1800s, and there were also a number of inns.

Keeping this street clean was no easy task, for rains and the thawing snow in springtime turned the lower town into a sea of mud. Fortunately for the residents, municipal authorities fitted out the city with plank sidewalks between 1855 and 1860.


Squeezed between the cliff and the river, this neighbourhood remained a dangerous place under constant threat of rockslides. No less than 85 people died in tragic circumstances there in the 19th century.

The street is named in honour of Samuel de Champlain, who founded Quebec City in 1608.



 Copyright (c) Linda Sullivan-Simpson

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Montreal, QB Terrible Disaster At Picture Theatre, Jan 1927



Montreal, Jan. 10. -- The death of another youngster today brought the number of casualties up to 77 in the Laurier Palace theatre fire and panic here yesterday afternoon. Some thirty other children, who were injured in the catastrophe, are now receiving treatment in hospitals. The six bodies which remained unidentified up to a later hour last night were claimed by the parents of the victims at the morgue today.

All of the victims have now been identified.

Montreal Surveys Scene of Havoc.
Montreal, Jan. 10. -- The citizens of Montreal this morning were sorrowfully surveying the havoc wrought yesterday afternoon, when, within a few brief minutes the lives of seventy-six children were snuffed out and twenty-four other persons were more or less seriously injured as the result of panic in the Laurier Palace moving picture theatre which followed an alarm of fire. The little victims whose ages ranged from five years to sixteen or seventeen were for the most part suffocated by smoke or trampled to death under the feet of the throng which jammed the exits in the wild rush to safety.

The tragedy is one of the most poignant that has ever occurred in this city and is the greatest moving picture catastrophe that has happened in this country. In several cases more than one member of the same family was killed.

Constable ALBERT BOISSEAU of the Tetreaultville police station, lost three children.

Frantic Parents Besiege Morgue.

All yesterday afternoon and evening there was a heart rending procession of distracted parents to the city morgue where the seventy-six little bodies were laid out, awaiting identification. The scenes within the building were unparalleled in their tragedy and in pathos as heartbroken mother crushed with grief, came to seek and in too many instances to claim some pitiful little corpse. Stricken to the depths with horror and the sorrow of it all, the officials guided the mourning parents among the bodies, themselves grim and unemotional as a rule, breaking into tears at the sad and unprecedented spectacle. For hours an endless line of fathers, mothers, sisters and brothers passed before Coroner McMAHONE as the aged official, his head bowed in grief and his heart filled with sympathy, assisted them to fulfill the requirements of the law. Working ceaselessly and giving to each bereaved parent the same kindly attention throughout the night, the coroner issued death certificates after all identifications had been made and the cause of death determined.

Many Children Not Attended.
To each parent, he put the question whether their dead child had gone to the theatre attended by some responsible person and if he or she had secured the parents permission. The answers in many cases were in the negative.
How the fire, which was the cause of the catastrophe, began, will not be determined until the inquest which begins today and until the owner of the theatre, AMEEN LAWAND, a Syrian, has been questioned. LAWAND was taken to the police station at an early hour this morning in company with three others, the assistant manager, the head usher and the ticket taker. He was granted $500 bail and will appear as a witness.

Children Stampede.

The fire started during the showing of a comedy picture. The theatre was well filled, with children predominating. The fire was discovered by an usher who took immediate steps to extinguish it while at the same time counselling the audience to refrain from panic. The children, however, became frightened and a wild rush was made for the exits. Those who were seated in the balcony made a dash for the stairs, and it was here that the disaster happened. At the end of the stairway, near the bottom, only a few feet from the sidewalk, the children became jammed. Dozens of them fell and were trampled under foot, their life literally crushed out of them, while many more, fighting madly to get out of the building, tried to push them from behind. The result was a hopeless crush. So tightly was the mass jammed that even when assistance in the shape of firemen and policemen arrived, it was found impossible for twenty men, pulling on a rope attached to one of the children to release him from the crush.

The Work Of Rescue.

Holes were made in the stairs underneath the mass and another in the side wall of the building and through these many of the children were dragged to safety.
While this was in progress the fire had been extinguished, but the building was filled with smoke. Choking and gasping for breath, the children were feverishly dragged out of the theatre, but in many cases it was too late. The little people were brought out merely to temporarily breathe in the cold fresh air, and then to fall back dead.
Ambulances, police patrols and taxicabs were pressed into service, the taximen volunteering their assistance gratis and as the victims were handed out they were rushed to the hospitals. The dead children were taken to the morgue. Then began the sad search. Frantic parents, most of whom resided in the vicinity of the theatre, rushed madly from the place to the hospitals and from the hospitals to the morgue. In many cases the visit to the hospital ended the search, but in many more the search did not finish until the parents saw their childrens stretched out dead.

Policeman Finds Own Three Kiddies.

Several of the firemen and policemen had their own children attending the theatre and they worked feverishly to extricate the mass. Constable BOISSEAU sought his three children, and the second sheet he turned up on the sidewalk disclosed the features of one of them. His other two had likewise perished.
Mayor MODERIC MARTIN last evening issued a message of condolence to the bereaved parents and the Montreal Theatre Managers' association at once opened a subscription which will swell from the original $10,000 aimed at.

The theatre is in the Hochelaga district, in the east end of the city between Moreau street and Pie Ix boulevard.
The vast majority of the victims were French-Canadian children, although a few names are those of English-Canadians.

The Lethbridge Herald Alberta Canada 1927-01-10

Saturday, June 25, 2016

St. Lawrence River, QB Steamer MONTREAL Disaster, June 1857

Quebec, June 27

The steamer Montreal, touring between Montreal and Quebec, left this port at 4 o'clock yesterday afternoon having on board near 500 passengers, of whom a majority were Scotch and other emigrants who had recently arrived from Europe.

Nothing unusual occurred after leaving the wharf until the Montreal rounded a point off Cape Roegue, about ten or fifteen miles above this city, when the wood work near the furnace was discovered on fire. Almost the very moment the smoke was discovered, the flames burst forth causing the utmost consternation among the crowded passengers. Every effort was made to arrest the flames. The boat was stopped so as to lessen the draft, but finding it impossible to save her, Capt. RUDOLPH ordered her to be run towards the shore. The wildest confusion and despair pervaded throughout the ship, and many of the passengers threw themselves overboard and were in most cases drowned.

Fortunately the steamer Napoleon, also bound for Montreal, was but a few miles in advance of the burning boat.
As soon as the fire was discovered she put back with all speed and succeeded in rescuing from the burning wreck, 125 passengers. Capt. RODOLPH and the passengers of the Montreal, were amongst those who threw themselves into the river, they being excellent swimmers succeeded in reaching the steamer Alliance and were saved. It is quite possible that others may have saved themselves by swimming, but, as the steamer was becoming unmanageable, some, no doubt, found a watery grave.

Sixteen of those saved died within a short time after reaching the deck of the Napoleon. It is believed the total loss of life by this terrible disaster will not fall short of 300 to 400. The steamer Alliance arrived here this P.M. with 45 dead bodies and another boat is known to have recovered 60.
Names of the lost not yet known excepting MR. PHILLIPS, of the firm of Noreruss & Phillips, Three Rivers.

The Montreal had on board 258 emigrants, recently arrived from Glasgow, together with several German families, raftsmen, and several American passengers.

Names of Saved:

ALEX CALDWELL, 18 months old.
JAMES GILCHRIST, about 4 years old.
Ladies' Maid of the Montreal.
MME. PREVOST, Maid of the Montreal.
JAMES McDERMIT, boot boy of the Montreal.
KATE and JESSIE LAURIE, about 6 years old.
CATHERINE CLARK and daughter.

MARGARET McALLISTER and three children.
MARY M'LEAN and son.
DAVID WILSON and one boy.
WILLIAM DOUGLASS, 14 years old.
THOMAS P. WALKER and wife.
Servants of J. GREENSHIELDS.

Names of Persons Supposed to be Lost:
Four children of DAVID GILCHRIST.
MR. CLARKE and one child.
A son and niece of MRS. MARGARET DICKSON, who is saved.
Two children of MRS. MARGARET BLOOMFIELD, who is saved.
MRS. DAVID WILSON and five children, husband saved.
MR. DOUGLASS, father of WILLIAM, who is saved.
MRS. DOUGLASS, and a sister of MR. DOUGLASS together with six children.
MRS. CAMPBELL, mother of JOHN and MARIA, and two sisters.
MR. and MRS. LAURIE, parents of JAMES and JEANNETTE, who are saved, and a girl.
MR. WYLIE, husband of MRS. JANE WYLIE, and three children.
MR. and MRS. McALLISTER, parents of ARCHIBALD, who is saved, and a child.
MR. NICHOLSON, father of WILLIAM, who is saved.
HUGH McLEAN, with two children.

R. WILSON and two sons.
JAMES WATSON, son and daughter.
JOHN GRANT, steward of the JOHN McKENZIE'S
JAMES McQUEEN, son and daughter.
MRS. MARY HUNTER and five children.
SERG. BROWN and wife.
MR. O'BRIEN, Toronto.
MRS. MAXWELL, wife of JAMES MAXWELL, saved, and three sisters.
MRS. McBETH, wife of ALEXANDER McBETH, saved, and a child.
MRS. WILSON, wife of ROBERT WILSON, saved, and one child.
MRS. LACHIAN, wife of JOHN LACHLAN, who is saved, and five children.
MRS. McKENZIE, mother of CATHERINE McKENZIE, five sons and two daughters.
MR. CHRISTIAN, two boys and two girls.
A sister of ANDREW ADAMS who is saved.

Daily Milwaukee News Wisconsin 1857-06-28

Friday, June 24, 2016

Quebec City Stairways

Quebec City has 30 stairways that connect the Upper and Lower towns, each has a story to tell, here are five such stairways.

Escalier du Faubourg (99 steps)

Also known as the Sainte-Claire or Le Soleil Stairs, Escalier du Faubourg was built out of wood some time before 1858 and rebuilt in iron in 1889. The current version dates back to 1931. In the opinion of historian Yves Beauregard, this three-level staircase is the city's “most graceful and soaring.” From the top, you'll have a splendid view of the Saint-Roch district and the Laurentian mountain range. You'll notice a portrait of the mayor of the time (1882–1890), François-Charles-Stanislas Langelier, built into the iron arch decorating the stairs.


Lépine Stairs (118 steps)

Built out of wood in 1857, this stairway was demolished and rebuilt in iron in 1883. Officially given the name Lépine in 1986 after a nearby funeral home, this stairway is undeniably one of Québec City's loveliest. The finely worked wrought iron arches at each end seem woven out of floral symbols. They also bear the names of the prominent citizens who made the construction possible. The arch at the bottom is the original, while the one at the top is a copy.

Breakneck Stairs (59 steps)

The Breakneck Stairs linking côte de la Montagne with rue du Petit-Champlain were built in 1635, making this the city's oldest stairway. In 1660, this staircase appears on a map of the village that grew into Québec City. The stairs have been restored several times since then, including once in 1889 by the city's celebrated architect and engineer Charles Baillargé. Local residents gave it the name Breakneck because of the steep incline.

Cap-Blanc Stairs (398 steps)

Québec City's longest staircase was built out of wood in 1868. At the time, it was used by the workers of the Cap-Blanc district to walk to work in the Cove Fields munitions factories, which were then located on the Plains of Abraham.
The stairs have been rebuilt many times, because they are bolted onto a rock wall subject to rockslides. Today the stairway includes a number of landings to give users a chance to catch their breath. The stairs remain a real challenge for joggers and other athletes who want to test their physical condition.

Escalier de la Pente-Douce (133 steps)

This stairway was named after a novel by Roger Lemelin, a Québec City author whose first novel, Au pied de la pente douce (The Town Below, literally “at the foot of the gentle slope”), was published in 1944. It dealt with daily life and the colorful characters of his Québec City neighborhood, Saint-Sauveur, and was quite controversial at the time.

Charles-Baillargé Stairs (35 steps)

In 1980 this stairway was named for Charles Baillargé, Québec City's architect and engineer from 1866 to 1899. He was responsible for numerous structures now considered part of the city's heritage, including several stairways. Formerly known as the Buade Stairs, these received an outstanding facelift based on 1893 plans by Baillargé himself. To get to them, go down impasse du Chien d'Or to the corner of rue Buade. The stairs take you to côte de la Montagne, from where you can admire historic surroundings that include parc Montmorency, rue des Remparts, and the Québec Seminary.

(c)2016 Linda Sullivan-Simpson

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Diamond Harbour School - 1854 - 1888

Diamond Harbour School - 1856 Presentation drawing

The Diamond Harbour School served the children of Protestant sailors and shipbuilders in the working class Cap-Blanc neighborhood. Originally located in the the basement of the Mariner's Chapel, it moved to a new building in 1863.

Former Diamond Harbour School - 1900

This elegant neo-gothic schoolhouse was the second to be created by the Protestant Board of School Commissioners of Quebec, after the Artillery Street School.

With the decline of the shipbuilding trade, attendance at the school fell and part of the building was transformed into a Lutheran Scandinavian Church in 1876. The school finally closed in October 1888, but the building later housed the Sarsfield Athletic Club and the Quebec Harbour Authority, and has since been converted to a private residence.

Former Diamond Harbour School became a Scandinavian Church - 1900

The institution should not be confused with the Catholic Diamond Harbour School also known as the Foulons School.


Diamond Harbour School is now a private residence.

Copyright (c)2016 Linda Sullivan-Simpson

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

St. Paul's Mariner's Chapel 1832 - 1921

Saint Paul's Mariner's Chapel was used by my Irish great-grandparents for several births, baptisms, and funerals. It was built on the infamous Rue Champlain where many a disastrous rock slide had and would continue to occur. My great-grandfather was a stevedore, working on the timbers wharves of Quebec City, living in Wolfe's Cove at one time.

St. Paul's Chapel aka Mariners Chapel
1831 St. Paul’s Anglican Mariners

Québec - Rev. J.E.F. Simpson, presiding in 1848, at which time the church was referred to as the Chapelry of Saint Paul, earlier names assigned to that church were Mariners' Chapel on Champlain Street, and the Church on Munn's Cove. The latter was consecrated on June 23, 1832 by the Bishop of Quebec.

Mariner's Chapel - 1889

Saint Paul's (the Mariner's Chapel) was initially a church for the Anglicans of Cap-Blanc, but a new congregation under the same name later set up in Loretteville.

Anglican services in the Cap-Blanc district were first held in the attic of a workshop, then at the home of John Munn, but it wasn't until the construction of Saint Paul's, commonly known as the Mariner's Chapel, that these became official. 

The plain chapel was consecrated on June 3, 1832. The basement eventually housed the Diamond Harbor School, and in 1875 the chapel became an autonomous congregation. With the decline of the harbor side Protestant population following the collapse of the shipbuilding industry, the registers were closed in 1915 and the building was deconsecrated on June 15, 1921.

Saint Paul's was sold to an ice merchant who demolished it.

Saint Paul's Church - c. 1980

St. Paul's at 81 boul des Etudiants
Loretteville G2A 2N4

Consecrated June 11, 1920

The furnishings came from St. Paul's Mariner's Chapel in Quebec City's lower town when that chapel was deconsecrated in 1920. 

Copyright (C) 2016 Linda Sullivan-Simpson

Monday, June 20, 2016

Quebec City Fire - 1881




QUEBEC, June 9.---One of the most disastrous fires which this unfortunate city has been afflicted with broke out last night, and was only got under control at 6 o'clock this morning. The first alarm was from the corner of St. Olivier and St. Claire streets at 10:50 o'clock. A few minutes later the bells from Basilica, St. John, and St. Roch's Churches rang out a second alarm, and the whole force of the Fire Brigade was soon upon the ground. The reflection of the flames was so visible that in a short time half the city appeared to be attracted to the scene, and by 11:30 o'clock all the avenues around and leading to the fire were so completely packed with people that it was next to impossible to force a way through them. The scene near the conflagration was one of utter confusion. Half of those present seemed panic-stricken, and three-fourths of the others only added to the confusion by running against each other and really contributing to the destruction of property while believing they were helping to save it. Parents, partly clothed, hurried along in every direction, with infants wrapped in bed clothing in their arms. Cows and horses, let loose from burning stables, rushed through the crowd or stood dazed by the uproar.

The fire originated in a stable on St. Olivier-street, near St. Marie-street. The flames quickly spread to the surrounding wooden buildings and to the streets above and below.

St. Olivier Latourelle, St. Marc, and Richelieu streets were quickly a mass of fire for some hundred feet of each in extent, the flames from the other sides of the streets overlapping in the middle, and completely closing them to all traffic.

The scenes common to all great fires were readily discernible at this stage. Even the Police and firemen were to a great extent demoralized. Daring robbery was carried on freely in full sight of everybody. Liquor stores and private dwellings attacked by the flames were ransacked for liquor, which was openly drank by the people of the lowest grade of society, who are common to the locality in question and who frequent low hovels, whose destruction is the least regrettable feature of the disaster. There were, of course, striking contrasts to the numerous instances of generous humanity. The sparks, which everywhere blew from the burning wooden buildings, were themselves a terrible source of danger to the rest of the city. It was no uncommon sight to see men's coats and hats ablaze from the burning pieces of shingles which lighted upon them. The wind being from the north drove the fire rapidly in the direction of St. John's Church. The rush of cold air caused by the rapid spread and large volume of flames seemed to divide the wind into local currents, which scattered the fire around in every direction, and the Fire Brigade found it more unmanageable than ever.

The firemen allege that four wooden houses were found on fire by them when they arrived upon the scene, and that with water absent and unattainable for some 20 minutes it was impossible for them to obtain the mastery. The hydrants threw good streams when the water came into the ward, but too late to be of much service. When the fire spread as above described, the Fire Brigade lost all control over any part of it, their necessary subdivision into so many parties making them weak at every point, and the flames swept onward with almost lightning rapidity.

A great part of Daguillon, West, and St. Genevieve streets had been destroyed when the flames appeared in St. John street, a little further out than Hetherington's bakery. At 1 o'clock the clanging of the bells of St. John;s Church in rapid tones told of danger to that property, and summoned assistance from all who had it to give. The whole efforts of the Fire Brigade were immediately bent on saving the building, but to no avail. Nothing was saved but the sacred vessels and some of the most valuable of the plate and furniture of the sanctuary. The fire had possession of the structure in a very few minutes, and the finest and largest church in the city was doomed to destruction.

It was a grand sight to witness the flames climbing the steeples of the church and to see the [their] them fall a few minutes later. The more northerly of the two was the first to go. It tottered and fell into the roof of the structure. the other steeple gradually sunk and telescoped. Next after the church came the Friars' School opposite. The people in the neighborhood, confident that the church would not be burned, had carried their household goods to the front of the building and there piled them up. Everything was consumed. The church was worth at least $100,000, upon which the insurance amounts to only $10,000.

At the foot of Jupiter-street, below Berthlot Market, the flames had crossed from the lower side of St. John-street, and from this point they rapidly progressed westward along that fine avenue, keeping pace with the other division of the conflagration opposite. Nor was the fire now confined to St. John-street. At Jupiter-street it spread southward to Berthlot-Market-place, destroying property on Gabriel and St. Patrick streets as far out as there were buildings to be destroyed. A lower field alone staid the progress of the fire. At Scott-street the fire ran upward toward Grand-alley at a terrible rate, there being no water, men, hose, nor other appliances to stav it. Only a gap caused by the recent conflagration here stopped the total destruction of the whole street. The only thing that the firemen succeeded in doing was to curb the fire east of Genevieve-street, and here, in fact, the wind was blowing from the east and north-east. From Latourelle-street, and up nearly to St. John, the westerly side of St. Genevieve-street had been swept away. To the north the fire extended as far as Richmond-street. The western limit is a little beyond the street car stables at Mount Pleasant near the city boundary.

Briefly summed up the streets consumed are running east and west; Richmond in part, principally the south side, Latourelle, St. Oliver, Richelieu, Daquillon, and St. John's Ward in Montclam; St. Gabriel, Mouvelle and Breton. Running north and south the principol[sic] streets were Sutherland, Deligny, St. Clair, St. Marie, and St. Genevieve, west side, besides Jupiter-street, in Montcalm Ward, also west side. Among the property destroyed on John-street were a large number of handsome buildings used as stores and private residences.

"A" Battery was called out and rendered efficient aid in saving property and in keeping order. Several remarkable whirlwinds were caused by the fire. In some cases men were lifted off the ground by the force of the wind. The fire extended even to the lower field, where most of the houseless people had camped out with what household effects they had saved; and these goods were almost all burned as they lay piled up on the grass. During the night burning shingles fell in the city as far out as Maple-avenue, endangering every part of the town. Several incipient fires in several streets were suppressed by the vigilance of the occupants. It is computed that there must be a loss of $2,000,000 between the buildings, stock and furniture. More than 1,500 families are made homeless by the conflagration. At least 800 buildings have been destroyed.
It is impossible to give a full and correct list of sufferers and insurance losses at present, but all the insurance losses at present, but all the insurance companies doing business in the city will probably be heavy losers. The Fire Brigade and apparatus was quite unfit to cope with such a fire, and to its weakness and the wretched water service the whole disaster is due.

Rumors circulated as to loss of life were not believed up to 3 P. M. It now appears that five lives were lost. Three bodies have already been recovered. They are those of Mr. and Mrs. Hardy, of No.118 Oliver-street, whose children were saved, and that of a man named Marois, a joiner, of Richelieu-street. Mrs. George Lapperiere and two children are missing, and are also believed to have perished in the flames.

St. John's Church is insured for $63,000. A subscription list in aid of the sufferers has been opened by the Governor-General, who gives $500. The Mayor gives $100, and the Archbishop $1,000.

The total loss is estimated at $1,500,000. The insurance will probably cover about $650,000 of the sum. The City Engineer estimates the number of houses destroyed at about 600. He bases his estimate on the fact that 567 properties on the Cadastral plan of the city were burned, and to these he adds 33 houses on double lots, making 600 in all.

The Governor-General's ball, which was to have come off this evening at Music Hall, has, in consequence of the calamity, been postponed until the evening of the 22d inst.

The discovery of the body of Mr. Hardy was made by men removing rubbish from some ruins. They suddenly came upon a human head so badly burned as to be hardly recognizable, which proved to be that of Mr. Hardy. Besides the five persons already mentioned, there are reports of others missing, who, it is feared, may also have perished in the flames.
Nothing but the walls of St. John's Church now remain, and the fine limestone blocks composing them are completely calcined. There is no doubt that the Fabrique will immediately decide to rebuild this structures. In the meantime mass will be celebrated at the chapel of the Bon Pasteur Lachevroderes. The official list of houses burned given this evening makes the total number 657.

In the Legislative Assembly this evening the Hon. Mr. Chapleau, in a speech in which he referred to the suffering that must result to the poor of Quebec from the terrible fire, moved a vote of $10,000 toward the relief of the sufferers. The Hon. Mr. Joly seconded the motion in a sympathetic speech. The Hon. Messrs. Lynch, Mercier, Robertson, and Irvine, and Messrs. Nelson and Murphy also spoke in a similar strain. The resolution was unanimously adopted.

Charles Renaud, of La Tourelle-street, began at noon to draw the necessary timbers for rebuilding his house. He is probably the first sufferer who has begun operations toward rebuilding.

Most of the sufferers being people in fair circumstances in life, the suffering will not be extensive.

The New York Times, New York, NY 10 Jun 1881

Sunday, June 19, 2016

St. Columban Plaque

This plaque was made possible through a generous grant from the Irish Government, Dublin, Ireland - Department of Foreign Affairs Emigrant Support Program (2010). 

After 1821 the Irish immigrants settled on the territory of what is not called Saint-Columban. During subsequent years, despite inhospitable conditions, an Irish community thrived and grew under the auspices of Father Richard Jackson. After his departure in 1825, he was replaced by Father Patrick Phelan. Father Phelan was responsible for the Irish communities of both St. Columban and Montreal. He later rose to prominence in the Church as Curate for Bytown (the future city of Ottawa) and as Bishop of the Kingston diocese.

In 1830, a public meeting was held to decide on the best location for the construction of a chapel which would serve the growing Irish Catholic population of the area. Mgr. Jean-Jacques Lartigue named the new chapel St. Columban after the celebrated 7th Century Irish monk who was the founder of many monasteries throughout Europe.

A simple chapel was built in 1831 on a portion of land that is now part of the Church parking lot. On October 14, 1835, St. Columban acquired its autonomy from Ste-Scholastique and held its first meetings and elections as the self sustaining Parish of St. Columban.

On December 28, 1836, John Plelan donated a section of his land to the Church wardens which is now part of the cemetery.

The story of the St. Columban Irish is part of a larger heritge, that of the Irish in Quebec. Gradually the families in St. Columban left their farms and settled elsewhere, but their Celtic mark remains in the village their ancestors had built.

In the spring of 2010, three monument walls were constructed. Mounted onto these walls were the broken headstones (some dating back to the early 1800's) that were found in the area. These monument walls are dedicated to over 700 Irish immigrants and their descendants who were laid to rest in the St. Columban cemetery.

Over the years their burial markers disappeared. On July 3rd a procession was held from the church to the cemetery. It was led by Father Mike McKenna. The walls were then consecrated in an emotional and heart-lifting ceremony.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

The Irish Settlement of St. Columban

At the foothills of the internationally famous Laurentian Mountains, located some forty miles north of Montreal, lies the Irish settlement of St. Columban. This municipality marks one of the small centers in Quebec established by the people from the Emerald Isle. 

The Irish who emigrated to Canada around 1823 were mainly farmers who had been ruined by the fall in price of produce resulting from the slump following the Napoleonic Wars. There was a return to pasture land causing the eviction of the tenants-at-will. The general depression of the times in the British Isles following to the transition from hand labor to machinery put labourers out of employment which was already large and increasing fast. Previously, in Ireland,there was a partial famine in 1817 and another in 1822, due to the failure of potatoes, which was the chief subsistence of the Irish peasants.

Religious discontent, bad harvests, and disease added to the unrest. The miseries of these good people were emphasized by rents, tithes, and leases. In contrast, by emigrating to Canada with its vast acres of land, the Irish were removed from distress and want, and were given the opportunity for independence and happiness.

The first mention of the Irish in Montreal was in 1817. This small group of people used to attend Mass at the French-speaking Bonsecours Church. Reverend Father Richards Jackson, a member of the Gentlemen of St.Sulpice, was an assistant at this church and noticed the Irish faces among the congregation. This zealous priest became their shepherd. He opened a school for their children in 1824, in the old Recollect Convent on Notre Dame Street, near McGill Street. The next year Father Jackson restored the old Recollect Church which had fallen into disuse and which had been used as a barracks.

This building became the original church of the Irish. In 1829, Reverend Father Phelan was named pastor of the Irish parish, and in both that year and in 1834, it was found necessary to enlarge the Recollect Church due to the increase of Irish immigrants.As Reverend Father Phelan was the founder of the settlement and parish of St.Columban, it is fitting and proper at this time to give a brief account of his history. 

Patrick Phelan was born in 1795 at Ballyraggot, in the diocese of Ossory, County of Kilkenny, Ireland. He emigrated to Boston, U.S.A. while he was young. Choosing the sacred priesthood as his true vocation, he was sent by his Bishop, Msgr. De Chevrics, to the Grand Seminary in Montreal to study theology. Some years later, in 1822, Father Phelan entered the Society of the Gentlemen of St. Sulpice, and he was the first priest ordained by Msgr. Lartigue in 1825. After his ordination, the Superior of Montreal asked for and received permission from Msgr. de Chevrics at Boston to allow the newly ordained priest to remain in Montreal, as a Sulpician, to administer to the Irish Catholics. As previously mentioned, Father Phelan was pastor of the Church of the Recollects from 1829-43. He was consecrated a Bishop in 1843 at the historic Notre Dame Church in Montreal.

Bytown, now called Ottawa, was under his jurisdiction from 1843-47. Most Rev. Bishop Phelan was named Coadjutor to Msgr. Gaulin of Kingston, and in 1852 was named Administrator. In 1857 he became Titular Bishop and it was during his administration that the Cathedral was built. The beloved Bishop Phelan is buried in the Cathedral in Kingston, Province of Ontario, Canada.

After Father Phelan was ordained a priest in 1825, he was interested in establishing a township and surrounding settlement in the vicinity of Montreal, where Irish immigrants of the farming class could be placed after their arrival in Montreal. He had in view the people of his native county Kilkenny, as well as those of Carlow, Kildare, Offaly,Laoighia and Tipperary.

As the northern part of the County of Two Mountains was still unsettled, and as it was a seigniory of the Gentlemen of St. Sulpice, Father Phelan directed the voluntary immigrants to this section of the county which became the municipality and parish of St.Columban. This district was shaped in the form of a triangle with the North River as its base, and the County of D’Argenteuil on the west, and the County of Terrebonne on the east.

The first colonists probably traveled by stagecoach, which went at the rate of six miles an hour. Leaving Montreal they likely passed through the villages of Ste. Therese, St. Augustin, Ste. Monique to Ste. Scholastique. From there the pioneers took a horse wagon to the North River, which they crossed by means of a raft.

At first the early settlers built shanties for their dwellings, which were later replaced by sturdy log-houses made from red cedar and with pointed roofs.The government supplied the colonists with farm implements, such as: ploughs, scythes, picks, spades, etc. They were also given blankets and utensils for setting up house. A vegetable garden was planted to help food needs for the family. For heating purposes, fireplaces fed by logs were used, while for lighting convenience, candles and lanterns were used. The immigrants brought in for themselves machine-made clothes which they had to make last as long as possible. Then,when they required replacement, clothing was mainly homemade.

The first colonists went to mass and made their Easter Duty at Ste. Scholastique which was situated about nine miles south of the settlement of St. Columban. If the weather was fine, they walked the whole distance through the woods. When the weather was inclement, they were accustomed to come to the crossroads located near the site of the
present church of St. Columban. The pioneers recited prayers at a wayside cross which was created there. A chapel was built near this cross in 1835, but for many years after its construction, the old folks would say: “to go to the cross” instead of: “to go to church”.

The first school in the settlement was in a part of the chapel. When the chapel was repaired, a separate building was built for the school, and the original classroom became the sacristy of the chapel. From 1825 to 1835, the number of families in the settlement increased, and in the latter year there were about one hundred. With Reverend Father Etienne Blyth, as resident parish priest, and with the opening of the first school, as mentioned above, around 1843, the settlement and parish grew rapidly, and towards 1850 there were two hundred families and at least three schools.

One now comes to the founding of the parish at St. Columban. On October 14, 1835, the parish priest of the Recollect Church in Montreal, Rev. Father Phelan, and the parish priest of Ste. Scholastique, Rev. Father Vallee, convened a meeting at the chapel of St. Columban which had already been built, for the purpose of electing trustees for the
administration of the temporalities of the said chapel. 

It was resolved that Rev. Father Phelan be appointed President, and three persons be named from each Cote, namely,Cotes St.Paul, St.Patrick, St.Nichols, St.George and North River. For Cote St.Paul the persons elected were: John Phelan, Richard Blansfield and James Conway. For Cote St.Patrick: Capt. Phelan, John O’Neill and William McGrath. For Cote St.Nicholas: Thomas McKenna, Felix Murphy and James Madden. For Cote St. George: Patrick Ryan, Philip Kennedy and Hugh Madden, and for North River: Captain Sexton, Richard Power and John Ryan. 

The following persons were unanimously appointed church wardens – in – chief: 1st, John Phelan; 2nd Capt. D. Phelan, and 3rd, John Ryan. This election was agreed upon and approved by the President, Rev. Father Phelan, and it was witnessed by Rev. Father Vallee of Ste. Scholastique. A short time after Rev. Father Etienne Blyth arrived in St. Columban. He subsequently became the first parish priest at St. Jerome. Rev. Father Dolan succeeded him and was cure for 1838-40. For the next forty-five years, Rev. Father Falvey was the pastor at St. Columban.

From the admirable sketch on St.Columban written by Most Reverend Lawrence Whelan, D.D., present Auxiliary Bishop of Montreal, one is indebted for the history of the parish and settlement up to 1935. St.Columban developed and reached its zenith during the pastorship of Rev. Father Falvey who spent forty-five years among the Irish. He was born in Limerick, Ireland, in 1797, and came to the Province of Quebec as a youth. After his ordination he did parish work for a few months at two other towns in Quebec, namely, Sorel and Valleyfield. In 1840, he was chosen by Most Reverend Bishop Lartigue to direct the Irish people, both in their spiritual as well as their temporal matters. During his long pastorate this saintly priest was their shepherd, their lawyer, their teacher and benefactor. Father Falvey kept up the Irish tradition of saying the Angelus on hearing the ringing of the church bell; the custom of reciting the rosary daily; the ever faithful attendance at Sunday Mass; the great devotion which the Irish have for the Mother of God. He enrolled the young women in the Children of Mary and the school children in the Association of the Holy Childhood. Knowing the value of reading, he collected a library in his presbytery for the benefit of his parishioners, and these books included religious as well as profane ones. Father Falvey also improved the industrial capacity of the settlement by having more sawmills built, and these in turn not only enabled him to erect a bigger and better church, but also permitted the settlers to make more substantial homes. He retired in 1879 but continued to live with the new pastor of St. Columban’s.

Father Falvey wished to remain where he had laboured most of his life among the Irish people whom he loved so much. He died in 1885 and is buried in the St.Columban cemetery.

Associated with Father Falvey in the teaching of the children of the parish was Reverend Sister St.Patrick. From an obituary published in a Montreal newspaper of 1905 called,“The True Witness”, a great tribute was paid to this devoted religious. Sister Mary St.Patrick was born in Kilkenny, Ireland, and was the daughter of John and Mary Phelan who emigrated to Canada in 1830, and settled in St.Columban. As a girl of twelve years of age, she entered the Congregation of Notre Dame, but met with a painful accident within the convent, which resulted in the dislocation of her ankle. This injury caused her to return to her beloved parish of St.Columban. 

Her illustrious uncle, Most Reverend Bishop Phelan, hearing of the accident paid a visit to the settlement, and during his stay the dislocated ankle of reverend Sister Mary St.Patrick was restored to its former strength and vigor. By special privilege granted to her by Bishop Phelan, the reverend sister was permitted to pronounce her religious vows under her father’s roof, and to live her religious life in her aged parents’ household. She looked after the altar and sanctuary of the church; she cared for the sick of the parish; she taught catechism to the children. Like Father Falvey, she spent her whole life in St.Columban, and contributed her talents and energy to the cause of the beloved people of St.Columban. She died in 1905 and is buried in the parish cemetery.

The meteoric growth of Montreal by 1880, with a population of over 130,000 inhabitants, and with an increase of trade and commerce, affected St.Columban. Due to the difficulty of farming the land, bad roads, the lack of reforestation, the small financial returns, the mistake of the parents in not dividing the farms among their sons, the younger folk of St.Columban became dissatisfied, and many drifted to the large city of Montreal, where working conditions were better and good salaries were paid. But there were also some who went to the Province of Ontario, and even to the American cities of Detroit and Chicago. Many farms were sold at St.Columban and thus, only a smaller number of Irish still remained.

After the death of Rev. Father Falvey, new pastors were appointed to administer to the spiritual needs of the parish of St.Columban. There were Rev. Father Pierre Poissan in1885-89; Father Charles Cadot, 1889-91; Father Forget-Despatic, 1891-1905; Father Charles Descarries, 1905-1909; Father Ludger Desjardins in 1909-1935. In 1935, the Coadjutor Archbishop of Montreal, the Most Reverend Georges Gauthier,D.D., sent Rev. Father Presseault to St.Columban. This energetic priest faced a task that might discourage a mighty man, but as Father Falvey had done, Father Presseault rapidly transformed the parish, and set it on its course to greater activity. The people rallied with him for a fresh effort. By means of building, repairing and farming, the parish and settlement were becoming alive again. The Irish descendents of St.Columban residing in
Montreal were glad to help out in every way they could. They returned on picnics; bus excursions were organized to celebrate certain events; back-to-St.Columban slogans were published so as to have large gatherings at their socials. It was during the term of Rev. Father Presseault’s pastorate that St.Columban observed its centennial.

The actual year of the centennial was 1936. As the church was undergoing repair and renovation, only a preliminary ceremony was held. However, the next year, on August17, 1937, graced by the presence of His Excellency, Most Reverend Georges Gauthier, D.D., Archbishop of Montreal, a solemn Mass was celebrated and among the distinguished guests were: Msgr. Chartier, Apostolic Vicar of Montreal; Father Hall, O.M.I. of Ottawa; Father Labelle, P.P. of St. Dominic’s Parish of Montreal. Rev. Father Presseault presided at the banquet held on the church grounds after Mass, and in the afternoon a ceremony took place in the cemetery where a memorial cross was erected to commemorate the centenary. The celebrations were brought to a close in the evening by a display of fireworks. The parish priests who were appointed after Rev. Father Presseault were: Rev. Father Rene Pelletier, 1940-42; Father Misael Jodoin, 1942-46; Father Adrien Robillard, 1946-50; and the present pastor, Rev. Father Bernard Desjardins.

Across from the school, and separated by the church road, is the one hundred and nineteen year old cemetery, which contains the remains of over eight hundred Irish immigrants.

St. Columban’s Church possesses three rare treasures. There is a relic of the True Cross, and a relic of the patron of the parish, St. Columban. Both relics are kept in separate reliquaries. The relic of St. Columban consists of a small bone of the Irish Abbot of Luxcuil who died in Bobbio, Italy in 615. On November 21, this relic is venerated in St. Columbans Church. The third treasure is a chalice made of pure silver with the cup inlaid with gold dating from the period of George the Third. This sacred vessel has been used in the parish of St. Columban for over a hundred years.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Raoul Donat Gadbois

Raoul Donat Gadbois, was my 1st cousin, 2 X removed and younger brother to Father Charles Emile Gadbois and was born in Saint-Barnabé 29 March 1912. He is the son of Prosper Gadbois, merchant, and Celina Germain. 

After classical studies at the Seminary of Saint-Hyacinthe from 1924 to 1932 and accounting at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes Commerciales, he was appointed chief accountant of the National Electrical Union in 1939.

 He is founder Secretary, with the father Albert Roger, Boscoville in 1940. on 13 August 1945, he founded the Society Inc. brokerage., a corporation of which he is the current president. He was elected in 1947, Councillor of the City of Montreal and set a record of motions presented to the City Council (1947 to 1950). 

1940: Secretary/founder Boscoville, an institution for troubled youth.
1949: Organized the first Trade Fair in Montreal.
1950: Organized the first flower parade in Montreal.
1960: Founded the Federation of Nautical Clubs of Quebec, and in 1961, the Water Security Council of Quebec.
1963: Member/founder of the Federation of campgraounds in Quebec and organizes the Ball of Flowers on the occasion of the Floralies of Montreal.

In 1953 he founded, with the collaboration of his brother Father Charles-Émile Gadbois, himself a founder of La Bonne Chanson, the radio CJMS (Canada, I Remember) he sold in 1955. The Federation yacht clubs in Quebec and the Water security Council of Quebec, based successively in 1960 and 1961, are the work of Raoul Gadbois. 

In 1962, he passed the Real Estate Brokerage Act of Quebec. He founded in 1968 Spiritex inc., Company importing French wine, and the Commanderie des Vinophiles Canada wine brotherhood which marks its 25th anniversary in 1994. He created, in 1986, the Fondation Abbé Charles-Émile Gadbois that allocates singing scholarships for youth 16 to 29 years wishing to sing in French and contributes to the survival of the French Canadian culture. Until 1996, the latest annual concert of the Foundation, it will have 407 candidates auditioned and paid $ 151,712 in scholarship. 

October 13, 1993 Raoul Gadbois is decorated by the President of the French Republic, François Mitterand, through the Consul General of France in Montreal, Mr. Jean-Pierre Beauchataud, for his contribution to the French culture in Canada. 

Raoul Donat Gadbois died in July 2002.

Copyright (c)2016 Linda Sullivan-Simpson 

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Quebec City, QB Terrible Boiler Explosion, Feb 1891

Below is another account of a disaster in Quebec City around the same time my great-grandfather was a stevedore on the wharves of Wolfe's Cove, Quebec City.


Quebec, Feb. 12 -- About 9:45 this morning the boiler in the Quebec Worsted Company's factory at Bare Point exploded, completely demolishing the engine house and about half of the factory. A large number of hands were buried in the ruins and a number are doubtless killed. T. TYLES, engineer, is the only name of the killed so far known. The work of removing the bodies from the debris is now actively going on. Thirty bodies have been removed up to the present.

Quebec, Feb. 12 -- The works of the Quebec Worsted Co., where this morning's fatal explosion occurred are situated at Bare Point, on the northeastern outskirts of the city. They cover a large area, and employ more hands than any other manufacturing establishment in the city. They had been closed down for two weeks while the boilers and machinery were being overhauled and refitted. Operations were to have been resumed this morning and about three hundred operatives were on hand. Owing to some cause, however, the machinery was not started, and they were dismissed. Many of them, however, remained about the building, a number keeping in the vicinity of the engineer's room for the sake of warmth. About 9:45 there was a sudden explosion which completely wrecked the engine house and dye-house, and damaged a large part of the main building. An immense crowd gathered immediately and the work of rescue commenced. The brigade were called, but fortunately the horrors of fire were not added to the calamity. "B" battery of artillery had been ordered out to assist the police in keeping order and controlling the enormous crowd of excited men and women who blocked every avenue of approach. Gross confusion is prevailing and it is impossible to get a list of the killed and injured, nor will a complete list be obtainable until the ruins are thoroughly examined. About twenty bodies have already been taken from the wreck.

HARVEY, foreman of Messrs. Carrier Lane & Co., of Levis, who was carrying out repairs to machinery and boilers says he was in the engine room when the explosion took place. He instinctively threw himself under the shelter of a large wheel and so escaped being crushed by the falling bricks and rafters. He was rescued half an hour later and was only slightly injured. He cannot account for the accident. The work of rescuing the unfortunates buried under the ruins is still going on. The Marine Hospital, which is situated in the same locality as the mill, has been opened to receive the dead and wounded, and is besieged by people seeking for missing relatives. The body of Engineer FRANCOUR, of the works, was found crushed out of all shape by a mass of debris which covered him.

Quebec, Feb. 12. -- The following is a current list of the wounded and killed in this morning's disaster, but there may be killed under the ruins yet and three of the wounded may die tonight:

GEO. WARREN, spinner, from Guelph, terrible cut in head and other injuries about the body, recovery doubtful.
ALFRED PIERSON, aged sixteen, recovery doubtful.
THOS. MORRISON, slightly injured.
JOHN ENRIGHT, SR., bobbin carrier, slightly injured.
G. ROUSSEAN, leg broken in three places and other injuries.
ALEX. MARTENAU, head badly cut and body bruised.
ARTHUR ROUSEAU, internal injuries.
PETERSON, nose terribly bruised and head cut.
ALEX. MARTINEAUX, badly hurt about legs and body.
ASSELIN, a girl, cut on head, mind deranged from injuries.
FRED ANGER and JOS. COUTOURE, cut about the head, injuries slight.
MR. LINDAY, secretary, left side terribly bruised.
EMILY BAULIE, aged 14, both legs broken and internal injuries, recovery doubtful.
EMILA COTE, slight bruises.
W. STOYLES, dangerously bruised, recovery doubtful.
CHAS. VILLENEUVE, dyer, arms broken and internal injuries, may recover.
F. D. YON, seriously bruised and scalded, recovery doubtful.
ETSCAR COUTOURE, severe injuries and fracture of skull.
MISS LACANCE, severely wounded about head and neck.
EMMANUEL FILTUR, engineer, broken arm.
JOS. BEDIGARE, slightly wounded about head.
ALFRED ANGER, slightly bruised.
THOS. LEMETIN, severe wounds in face.

ARTHUR TWEEDELL, mechanical superintendent of the Quebec and Levis Ferry company.
WM. FORREST, foreman of Reading department.
JOSEPH MICHAUD, mechanic in employ of Carrier, Lavin & Co., Levis.
THOS. STOYLES, head mechanic.
JOHN LEE, boiler inspector, of Montreal.
WM. FRANCOUR, mechanic in employ of Carrier, Lavin & Co.
AMANDA MERCIER, aged 14, daughter of Henore Mercier, of St. Sauveur.
JOS. DUFRESNE, watchman.
H. LAHBERTE, message boy about 14.
FRED alias BEBE HANLEY, and one unidentified, who is dying.

Winnipeg Free Press Manitoba 1891-02-13

Monday, June 13, 2016

Montreal Famine Irish annual walk to the Black Stone Memorial

MONTREAL – Montrealers gathered in Pointe-Saint-Charles Sunday for a mass followed by a two-kilometre walk to the Irish Commemorative Stone.
Victor Boyle, president of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, said the walk  is a tradition that dates back more than 150 years.
The stone, known as the Black Rock, is a tribute to the immigrants who landed on the shores of Montreal starting in 1847.
Most were Irish immigrants who fled hunger and poverty in Ireland only to die of typhus contracted on their overseas voyage.
An estimated 6,000 dead are believed to be buried under the stone and include not only Irish immigrants but also those who cared for the sick.
”Remembering how much they suffered to get here pays homage to our own heritage,” Boyle said.
The annual event isn’t only about honouring the dead, it’s also about recognizing the contributions of the Irish to Quebec society.
“The Irish came here in 1847 under the worst possible conditions,” Boyle said. “But they were still able to survive and influence the city of Montreal, the people of Montreal, the people of Quebec in general. We’re part of the fabric of this society.”
The monument stands near the Victoria Bridge between two stretches of  Highway 112.
Members of Montreal’s Irish community have been pushing to have the area surrounding the Black Rock turned into a green space, arguing that a memorial park would be a more fitting tribute.
But that is a fight for another day. Participants in Sunday’s march were heading back to Pointe-Saint-Charles for a reception in the church basement.
“After the ceremony, we come back and have some food and drink,” Boyle said. “Which is a typical Irish tradition.”
Montreal Irish Memorial Park Foundation
Copyright ©2016 Linda Sullivan-Simpson