Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Happy Halloween! Irish Heritage Quebec

Written by Joe Lonergan - administrator of Facebook site Irish Heritage Quebec
-reprinted here with permission

I posted a ghost story on my own Facebook page for Halloween. You may or may not want to read it. While is only a story, it carries a lot of factual of our local Irish heritage.

There was a great fear of contagion during the cholera epidemics that struck Quebec City in 1832, 1834,1849, 1851, 1852 and 1854. These carried off 8373 victims of all classes, creeds and ethnicity. A great many were Irish and those who were Catholic were mostly buried in St. Louis Cemetery illustrated here. It became St. Patrick’s Cemetery in 1856. In 1879 St. Patrick’s Cemetery between Grande Allée and what is now the north side of Maisonneuve was closed. There was an exhumation order to move human remains to 
the new cemetery in Sillery. My experience at St. Patrick’s School forces me to believe that at least in the case of the cholera section the order was not applied. In 1918 when the school and later extensions were built there were repeated disturbances of remains and some re-interment in the new cemetery. Inevitably some separation of family remains would have occurred when remains were transferred to the new St. Patrick’s Cemetery.

For the interested, one Irish superstition was that a spirit could not cross water. The old St. Denis stream and Belle Bourne Creek on the way and just before the new cemetery would have constituted obstacles. 

They are now only dry or damp ravines. If I could talk to Mary Lonergan, my great grandfather's aunt who died of cholera in July of 1854, I would say, “Ah there now Mary, sure isn’t there a bit of a bridge?” Her remains may actually still be in the schoolyard. Note the chol. for cholera in the margin of her interment entry. Note as well the John Fitzpatrick and Francois Nadeau who were present for the burial. I am not certain but looking at the 1852 and 1861 Census makes me assume that Fitzpatrick is the graveyard attendant and gravedigger while Nadeau made rough coffins. They are present at all the burials at St. Louis Cemetery in 1854.

May they all rest in peace wherever they are.

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