Immigrants to Canada

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Newspaper Reports of 1847

From The Ocean Plague by Robert Whyte, Boston: Coolidge and Wiley, 1848.

Monday Afternoon, August 9

Since my last, the wind has been blowing fresh from the northeast, and several vessels have arrived in port, the names of which you will find enclosed. Four have just arrived, but are not yet boarded. I make out the names of three, viz:-Bark Covenanter, Bark Royal Adelaide, and Schooner Maria, of Limerick. The Zealous has not yet made her appearance.

The accounts from Grosse Isle since my last, are not of a favorable nature, and the number of deaths is much the same. The building of the new sheds there is advancing rapidly.

A letter was received this forenoon, from the mate of the bark Naparima, with passengers, from Dublin, dated off Bic, last Friday, announcing that the Captain, Thomas Brierly, died on the 3d instant, and was buried on the same day. She was then fifty days out, and short of provisions,-about 20 of the passengers were sick, but were recovering when the mate wrote, and he intended to put into some convenient place for supplies. There was a pilot on board, and every exertion would be made to get her up to the Quarantine Station as soon as possible.
-extracted from the Quebec Correspondence of the Montreal Herald.

We are in possession of the latest news from Grosse Isle. The hospital statement yesterday, the 9th, was 2240. There is a large fleet of vessels at the station, and amongst them some very sickly, as it may be seen from the following statement:--

Passengers Deaths Sick
Bark Ellen Simpson Limerick 184 4 -
Brig Anna Maria Limerick 119 1 1
Bark Amy Bremen 289 - -
Brig Watchful Hamburg 145 - -
Ship Ganges Liverpool 393 45 80
Bark Corea Liverpool 501 18 7
Bark Larch Sligo 440 108 150
Bark Naparima Dublin 226 7 17
Bark Britannia Greenock 386 4 25
Brig Trinity Limerick 86 all well -
Bark Lilias Dublin 219 5 6
Bark Brothers Dublin 318 6 -

A full rigged ship just coming in-not yet boarded.

The hospitals have never been so crowded, and the poor creatures in the tents (where the healthy are), are dying by dozens! Eleven died on the night of the 8th, and one on the road to the hospital yesterday morning.

Captain Read, of the Marchioness of Breadalbane, died in hospital on the 7th. The Captain of the Virginius died the day after his arrival at Grosse Isle.

We regret to learn that the Rev. Mr. Paisley is in a critical state. He was dangerously ill this morning.

Since writing the above we learn that 60 new cases were admitted into hospital, and 300 more, arrived on the 8th and 9th, remain to be admitted!
Quebec Mercury, August 10th, 1847

The Steamer St. George arrived from Grosse Isle yesterday afternoon, but brought nothing of importance. The cool temperature of the last few days has had a favorable effect on the sick in the tents, and fewer cases of fever had appeared. [Note: the St. George was used to move passengers from Grosse Isle to the mainland.

The Ship Washington from Liverpool, 9th of July, had arrived at the station yesterday. She has one cabin, and 305 steerage passengers, had 22 deaths and 20 sick. She reports 15 vessels with passengers in the Traverse.
Quebec Chronicle

Hospital return-Grosse Isle, September 14th, 1847

Remaining on 14th 1386
Died 12th to 13th inst., 41

Hospital return-Grosse Isle, from 19th to 25th of Sept

Remaining on 19th 1196 Discharged 234
Admitted since 436 Died 121
subtotal 1632   355
plus discharged and died 355    
total 1277    

Deaths at the sheds, where the healthy passengers are landed, during the same period-10

There are 1240 cases of fever, and 37 cases of small pox. Two men died whilst being landed from the Emigrant, and 162 cases were admitted into hospital from the same vessel.

Hospital statement to the 28th

Men 473
Women 441
Children 349
Total 1263

Grosse Isle-Return of sick in hospitals 1st October.

Discharged Died Remaining
Men 414 103 7 304
Women 412 156 3 253
Children 326 109 1 216
  1152 368 11 773

(Signed) I.M. Douglass, Med. Sup.

About 400 convalescents went up to Montreal in the Canada on Thursday last, and 35 came up to Quebec in the Lady Colborne on Friday.

This has enabled the Medical Superintendent to close another hospital; and this day the services of two more medical men, with their staff of orderlies and nurses will be dispensed with.

Hospital statement, 5th October.

Men, 230-Women, 124-Children, 150-Total, 504.

There were then three vessels with emigrants at the station.

A Melancholy Tale of Woe

On Saturday last, 30th October, the Lord Ashburton, from Liverpool, 13th September, with general cargo and passengers, arrived at Grosse Isle in a most wretched state.

When sailing she had 475 steerage passengers, and before her arrival at the Quarantine Station, she had lost 107 by dysentery and fever; and about 60 of those remaining were then ill of the same complaints. So deplorable was the condition of those on board that five of the passengers had to remain to work the ship up from Grosse Isle.
Quebec Mercury.

Emigration From Liverpool

The amount of emigration from Great Britain and Ireland has his year far surpassed that of any previous year, as will be seen from the following returns, made up on the 6th instant, of emigration from this port alone:--

United States 77,403
Canada 27,666
New Brunswick 1,479
Nova Scotia 171
Prince Edward's Isle 444
Other places 311
Total 107,474

Of this vast number of emigrants, two thirds were Irish, and of the remaining one third, two fifths were Scotch and English, and one fifth German, of whom a larger number than formerly left this port during the past season.

Reports of the following vessels upon their arrival at Grosse Isle; namely,

Passengers Deaths Sick
Sir Henry Pottinger Cork 399 98 112
Bark Wellington Liverpool 435 26 30
Bark Sir Robert Peel Liverpool 458 24 12
Schooner Jessie Limerick 108 2 16
Bark Anne Rankin Glasgow 332 7 3
Bark Zealous London 120 1 5

We are glad to learn that the Soeurs Grises [The gray Sisters, a community of charitable Nuns.], amongst whom sickness and death have made such fearful havoc, during their self-immolating ministrations to the dying emigrants, are again pursuing their charitable labors at the Sheds at Point St. Charles. We are happy to learn, also, that the sickness in Griffintown is rapidly on the decrease.
Montreal Pilot.

The following advertisement is a specimen of many of a similar nature, that daily appeared in the newspapers; and requires no comment.

Information wanted of Abraham Taylor, aged 12 years, Samuel Taylor, 10 years, and George Taylor, 8 years old, from county Leitrim, Ireland, who landed in Quebec about five weeks ago-their mother having been detained at Grosse Isle. Any information respecting them will be thankfully received by their brother, William Taylor, at this office.
Montreal Transcript, September 11th, 1847.

The 'Quebec Chronicle' having obtained permission to copy them from the official records, has commenced the publication of the names of all the unfortunates who have died in the hospital at Grosse Isle, with their ages and the names of the vessels in which they came to Canada, as well as the date of the decease. The 'Chronicle' deserves well of the community, for thus affording the relatives of the poor sufferers the means of knowing what has become of them.
Montreal Courier.

The immigration commissioners report that 94 vessels have landed in the Province of New Brunswick, the present season, 15,269 passengers. The deaths at sea on board these vessels, were six hundred and sixty two.

The schooner Victoria, from Quebec, with 20 passengers, anchored at the Quarantine ground on Tuesday last. She had three cases of Typhus fever on board. The passengers and crew were landed on Middle Island this morning, the captain securing the maintainance[sic] of the healthy passengers and crew until discharged.
Miramichi Gleaner, 27th July.

Emigration to New York.-We have received from Senator Folsom a printed copy of the report forwarded to the Legislature by the Commissioners of Emigration at this port. It is dated October 1st, 1847. The board of Commissioners having been organized on the 8th May last, Robert Taylor being appointed agent, and William F. Havemeyer, president-proceeded immediately to take charge of the sick and destitute emigrants. Having filled the Quarantine hospitals, all the spare rooms connected with the City Almshouse department were hired at a dollar per week for each destitute emigrant, and a dollar and a half per week for the sick. But the introduction of fever patients at the Almshouse was attended with too much risk, and buildings were erected for their accommodation on Staten Island. These being still inadequate, the buildings on the Long Island Farms were leased, but the fear of contagion so alarmed the neighborhood, that the buildings were burned by incendiaries.

The United States Government at once granted their warehouses at Quarantine for the accommodation of the sick. They were soon filled, as all the principal hospitals, public and private, to which the Commissioners had to resort. At this crisis, a large stone building was leased on Ward's Island, which with buildings subsequently added to it, afforded ample accommodation for the thousands dependent upon their benevolent undertaking.

Many were destitute of clothing, and from may to September, ten thousand three hundred and eight articles of dress were made at Ward's Island and furnished to them, by direction of the Commissioners. Hundreds have been provided with employment in the interior of the state, and many forwarded West at the expense of the Commissioners.

The number of passengers who arrived from may 5th to Sept. 30th , inclusive, and for whom commutation money was paid, or bonds given, was 101,546, of whom only 25 were bonded.

Of said passengers there were natives of

Germany 43,208 Italy 130
Ireland 40,820 Sweden 119
England and Wales 6,501 Spain 72
Holland 2,966 Denmark 51
France 2,633 Portugal 31
Scotland 1,856 Poland 21
Switzerland 1,506 East Indies 6
Norway 881 Turkey 1
West Indies 265    
    Total 101,546

Of which number there were

Forwarded from the city Temporarily relieved Sent to Hospitals Sent to Alms house
427 217 5,148 713

Total, 6,505, of whom were Irish 3,792.

Adding to the above 256 emigrants who were in Hospital at the time the Commissioners entered upon their duties, we have 6,761, the total number under their care up to the date of this report.

Of these, seven hundred and three died between the 8th of May and the 1st October. The names, ages, and places of birth, of the dead, are not give. This is an oversight which ought to be corrected.

It seems, also, that no provision was made for the erection of any memorial over their graves.
New York Paper.

Ship Fever.-The British ship India, Gray, (late Thompson), arrived yesterday from Liverpool, after a passage of 57 days. Captain Thompson died of the ship fever on the 14th inst., (January, 1848) and during the passage 39 of the passengers died of the same disease. The chief officer of the ship, and a large number of the passengers are now sick. When the India left Liverpool she had two hundred and seventy passengers.
New York Express.

The British Ship Viceroy, arrived at New Orleans on the 5th instant, with 286 immigrants.

Fourteen had died on the passage, and many others were very sick, and sent to the Charity Hospital. The Orizaba, which arrived from Liverpool on the 31st ult., had shipped 170; 24 of whom died, and most of the rest were sent to the Hospital.
Boston Mail, Jan. 19th, 1848.

Report of Deer Island Hospital, Boston, for the week ending January 26th, 1848.

Number remaining as per last week's report, 311
Admitted since, 28
Total, - 339
Discharged, 36
Died, 13 49
Remaining, 290
Whole number admitted to this date, 2,230
Whole number buried on the Island, 347
Of whom were brought from the ship dead, 20
Died the day of their reception, 8
In carriage, 2

Boston Journal.

Foreign Emigrants.-A communication from the State Department was laid before the House of Representatives on Friday last, reporting the number of passengers who arrived from foreign countries on shipboard, during the year ending 30th of September last. The number of males was 139,166; females, 99,325; sex not reported, 989; total, 239,480. The prospect is that the number will be much larger the present year.

Of the above number of passengers, 145,838 landed in New York; 20,848 in Massachusetts; 5,806 in Maine; 14,777 in Pennsylvania; 12,018 in Maryland; 34,803 in Louisiana, and 3,873 in Texas.
Boston Journal.

Abstract statement of payments on account of the expenses attending emigration, in the Province of Canada, during the season 1847. Taken from the Inspector General's report.

Amount paid for the erection of Hospital Sheds:

At Grosse Isle, 10,609, 11, 7
At Quebec, 1,120, 0, 0
At Montreal, 15,914, 17, 5
27,644, 9, 0
For transport of emigrants inland, including cost of provisions, 35,450, 0, 0
For Boards of Health.
Canada, East and West, 60,220, 19, 7
Expenses at Quarantine Station, 15,465, 17, 6
Emigration Agent for transport, 10,502, 4, 5
Board of Health, and Emigrant Hospital at Quebec, 8,000, 0, 0
Total 157,283 10, 6

Table showing the comparative number of emigrants to the ports designated, viz:

1846 1847 Increase 1847
Quebec 32,753 98,105 65,351
New York, 97,843 145,890 48,047
Boston, 14,079 20,745 6,666
Philadelphia, 7,236 14,763 7,527
Baltimore, 9,327 12,018 2,691
183,386 331,963 148,577

Emigration to British North America

Emigration returns just issued by order of her Majesty, state that the numbers who embarked in Europe, in 1847, for Canada, was 98,006. Viz:

From England [It may be necessary to remark that many of the Irish emigrants sailed from English ports.] 32,228
From Ireland, 54,329
From Scotland, 3,752
From Germany, 7,697

Of the whole number 91,882 were steerage passengers, 684 cabin, and 5541 infants. Deducting from this aggregate the Germans and the cabin passengers, the entire number of emigrants who embarked at British ports was 89,738, of whom 5,293 died before their arrival, leaving 84,445 who reached the colony. Of these it is estimated that six sevenths were from Ireland. Of the 84,445 who reached the colony alive, no less than 10,037 died after their arrival. Of the remainder no less than 30,265 were admitted into Hospital for medical treatment. Up to the 12th of November last, the number of destitute emigrants forwarded from the agency at Montreal to Upper Canada was 38,781.
New Orleans Price Current.

As the conduct of Irish landlords has been severely commented upon, in the foregoing pages, it is but just to inform the reader of a most honorable exception; and which it affords the author extreme gratification to be enabled to do, by transcribing the following article from the "British Canadian."

Last Season's Emigration.

Among the landlords who last summer were desirous of providing an asylum for portion of their tenantry, was one who was actuated by far other motives than merely getting rid of so many people. We trust there were others urged by similar motives, but there were some not very creditable exceptions. Steven E. De Vere, Esq., a gentleman of fortune, and the proprietor of some estates in the South of Ireland, having heard a great deal about the evils and benefits of emigration to this Province, and hearing also of the sufferings of many poor people who had been sent from the country, determined to try the experiment himself. This he came to the conclusion to do, not by making arrangements for the transport of so many hundreds of thousands of his tenantry, and remaining at home to hear as much, or as little as might be, of their fate; but he would see for himself. He accordingly picked some dozen volunteers from among the numbers who would gladly have accompanied him, and with them took shipping for Quebec, in the steerage of one of the regular passenger ships. Landlord and Tenant fared alike, the former taking careful notes of the events of the passage. Of the voyage we need say nothing more than that it was of the average character-there was all the disease, ill usage, and wretchedness of which our readers have often been made perfectly aware;-the state of things which imported the fever that carried off many of our most valued friends and citizens. At Quebec, proceedings were commenced against the Captain, which were ultimately compounded upon his paying a certain amount for the benefit of the suffering Emigrants. Mr. De Vere proceeded to Upper Canada, and closely observed the whole process of transportation, to the very last destination-the graves of the fever-stricken people. In Toronto this philanthropic gentleman attended the emigrant office, and rendered much assistance to the lamented and indefatigable agent, Mr. McElderly, boarding with him every steamer filled with the wretched cargoes, and transmitting to the "proper authorities" the result of his laborious experience. He was well pleased with the management of our hospitals; but shocked, as every one was, with the mode of transporting the poor people hither. Some of the steamboat cargoes were sufficient to recall to the mind the horrors of the sea voyage. Mr. De Vere's people suffered from fever, but recovered, receiving his constant personal attendance. The fact of this gentleman's investigations being laid before the Colonial Secretary, and some members of the House of Lords, coming as they did from one well known, and who could not possibly have any interest in writing, but the benefit of his countrymen, has had a good effect, and he merits well of the people of this Province, as well as the emigrating population of the mother country.

Few men are found to act from such pure disinterestedness in these days, and it is gratifying to observe the result of such labors.

Mr. De Vere returns shortly to England, and, by making his views public, will, we hope, be the means of obtaining further improvements, as those already made are by no means sufficient. One fact is certain, his information may be implicitly relied upon by government; for he has obtained it himself, on the spot, and by the most careful, and indeed dangerous investigation, as the above mentioned facts fully show.

It was the author's intention to confine himself to the occurrences of the year 1847; but as the publication of the foregoing narrative has been delayed longer than was anticipated, it may here be observed that he had strong hopes that judicious precautions would have been taken to prevent the repetition this season, of the tragic scenes of the last.

Some legislative enactments for the further regulation of Emigrant ships have been passed by Great Britain, during the last session of Parliament; but it is much to be feared that they will prove quite inefficient. It is painful to observe the very unfavorable accounts from some of the Ports of the United States, as well as of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

As regards Canada the prospect is exceedingly gloomy, to judge from the conduct of the executive government in forbidding the publication, or issue of any reports from the Quarantine Station, respecting the state of things there.

Were not the trials of the wretched emigrant already sufficiently great, that he must

"To such unsightly sufferings be debased?"

The Press has boldly taken up the matter, and it is to be hoped that the appearance and repetition of such articles as the following will tend to the repeal of the obnoxious and cruel edict.

Grosse Isle Intelligence

The executive government have forbidden the transmission of any news or statements from the island, except, we suppose, to head quarters, that is, to themselves. This is a proceeding as arrogant as it is absurd and mischievous. Last year full reports were given to the public of the state of the island and the proceedings there, as well from official as from private sources. Why then interdict the publication this year, when more than ever a faithful return of the health and sickness prevailing at the quarantine station is most desirable?

If the prohibition be intended to prevent alarm, it is founded upon false premises, as, in the absence of authentic information, wild and exaggerated rumors obtain credence. The public have a right to be informed of what is passing at Grosse Isle.
Kingston Chronicle, 17th June, 1848.

More newspaper reports and events of 1847 on TheShipsList.

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