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QAHN Letter to Mayor Denis Coderre RE: Montreal Irish Monument

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September 22, 2014.

RE: Montreal Irish Monument Park Foundation / Monument Irlandais de Montreal.

Dear Mr. Mayor,

The Quebec Anglophone Heritage Network (QAHN), a province-wide network of nearly 100 heritage and cultural groups, has been following with much interest the discussions in Montreal regarding the possibility of developing an Irish Memorial Park near the Black Rock, the monument located at Victoria Bridge.

As you know, the history of Montreal is intricately linked to the Irish who helped to build this great city of ours. The many contributions of this community to the economy and culture of this city are well known. Indeed, the Irish are considered one of Montreal’s four founding groups, with the Irish shamrock appearing prominently on the city’s coat of arms. Montreal’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade, one of the biggest Irish parades in the world, is considered a highlight on the city’s cultural calendar.

Montreal’s Irish heritage unfortunately also has a tragic side. Of the approximately 100,000 Irish who immigrated to the city in 1847 to escape famine back home in Ireland, tens of thousands contracted ship fever en route or shortly after their arrival here. Thousands survived the ordeal and went on to contribute immeasurably to society in Montreal and elsewhere in Canada. Many of these were orphans who were adopted into French-Canadian families. But thousands of others, less fortunate, died of fever. The Black Rock marks the graves of some 6,000 Irish who succumbed.

At a meeting of its Board of Directors, held in Montreal on September 20, 2014, the Quebec Anglophone Heritage Network voiced its strong support for the proposal put forward by the Montreal Irish Monument Park Foundation to develop a cultural and memorial park around the site of the Black Rock. QAHN believes this park should include a green space and sports facilities that would serve the rapidly developing Griffintown area, itself the former hub of the city’s Irish community. It should include interpretive signage honouring the Irish who died of fever and who were buried at this spot; the Quebec families who adopted the orphaned children of those who perished; and the many Montrealers (including John Mills who was Mayor of Montreal at the time) who gave aid and comfort to the Irish and who contracted the fever themselves.

This park, QAHN believes, would represent a vast improvement to the less-than-attractive area around Victoria Bridge, which is one of the main entrances to the city. It would be good for tourism (potentially attracting thousands of descendants of Irish Montrealers from across the world). And it would be something that Montrealers of all backgrounds would be proud of.

The Quebec Anglophone Heritage Network urges you, Mayor Coderre, to support this project, and to do everything in your power to help Montreal’s Irish community make this park a reality. QAHN, of course, will assist in any way it can.
Please do not hesitate to contact us if you require further information,

Matthew Farfan
Executive Director, QAHN/RPAQ

About QAHN:
Founded in 2000, the Quebec Anglophone Heritage Network (QAHN) is a non-profit, non-partisan organization engaged with its members in promoting the preservation of the built, cultural and natural heritage of Quebec. QAHN aims to promote a greater understanding of the history of Quebec’s English-speaking communities by informing, inspiring and connecting people through its activities. Membership is open to any organization or individual, regardless of language or cultural affiliation, with an interest in the history, heritage and culture of Quebec’s English-speaking communities. Currently, in addition to several hundred individual members across Quebec and Canada, over 90 organizations in Quebec hold institutional membership in QAHN.