Press release from Ancestry.ca.
Collection may provide family history clues for 4.3 million Canadians with Irish heritage
(Toronto, ON – Mar. 10 2009) Ancestry.ca, Canada’s leading family history website, has launched online the records contained in the book Irish Emigration to New England, Through the Port of Saint John, New Brunswick, 1841-1849 by Daniel F. Johnson, which includes 7,000 names, fully indexed with original images, making it easier for the 4.3 million Canadians with Irish heritage to discover their family history.
The Irish Potato Famine of the late 1840s saw droves of Irish fleeing to North America in search of a better life. The Canadian Port of Saint John, New Brunswick became a stopping point for those en route to the United States.
Many, however, arrived destitute or in ill health and so took what they thought would only be temporary refuge before making their way on to New England to be reunited with their families.
During this time, the government in Saint John built a quarantine station and a hospital to protect residents from the sick new arrivals, many of whom actually stayed in Canada, with their strong Irish-Catholic presence changing the dynamic in Saint John, which until then had a strong Loyalist-Protestant heritage.
Prior to 1865, there were no comprehensive nominal lists of immigrants to Canada so the records kept by the hospital, work houses and asylums are the sole evidence of their arrival to North America. These records help to piece together the mass movement of the Irish to North America during this time.
Family and social history enthusiasts can search the collection by first and last name, year, country, state and key word.
Karen Peterson, Marketing Director, Ancestry.ca, comments: “These extremely rare records are a veritable treasure chest of information for those researching their Irish-Canadian roots and also help set the scene for what would have been the first months of their ancestors’ new lives in Canada.There are millions of Canadians that can trace their heritage back to Ireland, and in addition to this collection, Ancestry.ca offers a variety of Irish records that can help Canadians discover the Irish ancestry in their family tree.”
From passenger lists to censuses and border crossing records to birth and marriage certificates and even Irish Parish registers, there are many collections on Ancestry.ca that can help Canadians find their Irish ancestors.
One of the more popular pastimes for family history enthusiasts is trying to find a link to a celebrity or famous individual. Around St. Patrick’s Day, everyone likes to try to claim some Irish ancestry and many now have the chance to try to prove it by researching online records.
Some Canadians just might find out why they like green beer so much and can see if they are related to some of the famous Irish Canadians found throughout the records on Ancestry.ca, including:
- Paul Martin – the 21st Prime Minister of Canada, who is part Irish. His grandfather, Phillipe, was a modest store clerk according to his marriage record dated February 17, 1901, when he was 29 years old. Phillipe also appears in the 1911 Census of Canada living with his wife and children, including Paul Joseph James, Paul Martin’s father.
- Brian Mulroney – the 18th Prime Minister of Canada was born to Irish-Canadian Catholic parents, Benedict and Irene (O’Shea) Mulroney. Benedict Mulroney was a paper mill electrician and would likely not have foreseen his son’s rise to leader of the government at Brian’s baptism in Baie Comeau, Quebec in 1939, the record of which can be found in the Quebec Vital and Church Records, known as the Drouin Collection.
- Conn Smythe – one of the builders of the National Hockey League can be found in various collections, including the 1911 Census, where he lists his nationality as Irish, his Attestation Paper for service in the First World War, signed October 15, 1915, and a marriage certificate dated March 20, 1920, in Toronto where he would go on to become a principal owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs from 1927 to 1961, and the builder of the famed Maple Leaf Gardens.
- Louis Saint-Laurent – yet another former Prime Minister from humble beginnings. Louis was born in Compton, Quebec to Jean-Baptiste-Moïse Saint-Laurent, a French-Canadian, and Mary Anne Broderick, an Irish-Canadian. Louis appears in the 1911 Census.