Tuesday, June 7, 2016

The Coves of Sillery

The Coves of Sillery
During the mid to late 1800's many of the Irish lived and worked on the timber coves along the waterfront of the St. Lawrence river near Quebec City as stevedores, ship laborers, riggers, timber towers, cullers, and booms men.

Some of the coves names were O'Brien's Cove, New London Cove, Union Cove, Dobel's Cove, Sillery Cove, Bower's Cove, Point pizeau Cove, St. Michaels Cove, Woodfield Cove, Harbor Cove, Spencer Cove, and Wolfe's Cove where my maternal great-grandfather, George Burns, worked as a stevedore for John Roche.

Lumber barons were to name a few, Sheppard, Gibb, Gilmour, Price, Sharples, Dobell, Burstall, and Roche.

Managers were, Fitzpatrick, McInenly, Nolan, Bogue, Timmony, O'Connell, Bowen and many more.

Spencer's Cove, between Wolfe's and Woodfields Cove had 75 houses and work for 100 men. 1852 census states 62% Irish 34% French.

Woodfields Cove had work for 100 men. 1852 census states 56% Irish 39% French.

St. Michael's Cove has a good number of hands in the summer, generally speaking there are few homes, thinly inhabited but comfortable. 1852 census states 94% Irish 4% French.

McInenly Hill Cove aka Sillery Hill boasts the same numbers.

Wolfe's Cove of 810 souls, 625 were Irish.

Many of the workers may have belonged to the Quebec Ship Laborers Benevolent Society established in 1852.

Houses in Sillery - 1863

Quebec City, where the Irish dominated the work on the timber wharves.


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  2. Great site. My ancestors also came over via this route. They were Scots people from the Highlands, Catholics thay moved through Quebec and gradually moved into Glengarry. They married freely with the Irish, and then some of them migrated down into New York into the area around Buffalo and into Salamanca and Olean. They were McDonells, but the name had so many spellings that they all used different spellings. I am looking for any information that will help me make my family whole again. I have many letters from the family. Some of them fought in the Civil War and in the Indian Wars.

  3. Thank you very much for this post. My 2nd great grandfather was listed as a shipbuilder living in Wolfe's Cove on the 1871 Census. It is nice to know a little bit of the history behind this area.
    What a wonderful map you found for that area as well.