The Irish Catholic Churches in Quebec City


Compiled by Jacques Gagné


·       Quebec City

·         During the first half of the 19th century, hundreds upon thousands of emigrants from the British Isles arrived in the port city of Québec. All were fleeing European poverty, famine, and overpopulation. Even though the majority would continue westward, quite a fair number chose to remain in the city. Confronted with a sudden growth in population, authorities would encourage the opening of new townships around Québec City. The majority of these emigrants were Irish Catholics, and many would settle in Portneuf, Lotbinière, Dorchester, Lévis counties, all areas located north and south of the city. In 1819, the Irish population of Québec City numbered nearly one thousand, by 1830 some estimates places the Irish population at between six to seven thousand or nearly one quarter of the total population. By 1861, 40 percent of Québec Citys 10,000 inhabitants were English-speaking, largely because of Irish families who made up 30 percent of the total population. As early as 1817, Irish Catholic Priests were shepherding the Irish population at Notre Dame Cathedral and most likely at the Diamond Harbour Parish, plus at the Church of the Nativity in nearby Beauport. The first annual Saint Patrick Mass was most likely celebrated in 1819 in the Congregationalist Chapel in Québec City.

·         The earliest church record I was able to trace in regard to the Irish of the Québec City region was in 1736 in the parish of Saint Augustin in nearby Saint Augustin de Desmaures in Portneuf county Notre Dame in Québec City claims to have records of Irish births, marriages and burials as early as 1728, the latter date under the French regime. After the Battle of the Plains of Abraham in 1759, the English speaking Catholics of Irish-Scottish-British origin were identified as such, and described as a group by the ruling British Governors and their subordinates.

·         Saint Patricks Day (1765) The Quebec Gazette account of Saint Patricks Day events in 1765 which read in part: "…besides the divine service, entertainment and toasts will be held at the tavern, followed on the Monday night by a ball" It appears that the festivities were held at Hugh Maguires Shamrock Inn near the Haymarket.." Which indicates that the Irish settlers in Québec City in 1765, had grown into a substantial number of families. 

·         Old Quebec - Vieux Québec  - Notre Dame Cathedral (1728 to 1818) The church was first organized in 1621, about 1728, under the French regime, a few Irish, or British or Scottish settlers were known to worship in this House of God From about 1760, under the British Regime, the Cathedral would be the home to many Irish / Scottish / British parishioners. Rev. Patrick McMahon, presiding from 1822 to 1828 - From about 1822 to 1828, Masses were celebrated in both English and French. Prior to the establishment of St. Patrick in 1833, Notre-Dame (Cathedral), plus Notre-Dame de la Garde, Notre-Dame de Saint-Roch and Notre-Dame des Victoires were known as the Irish Churches At the Archives nationales du Québec, book #785 outlines the marriages of Irish Catholics from 1728 to 1900 / BAnQ (1621-1941) / (1621-1941) / Church photo, see; Les églises de mon quartier

·         Old Quebec - Vieux Québec Chapel of the Congregationalists / Jesuit Fathers (1822) Rev. Simon Lawlor, presiding From about 1822 to 1826, church services for the Irish Catholics were held in the Congregational Chapel, the latter was then located within the walls of the Convent of the Jesuit Fathers on Esplanade Hill (dAuteuil) Marriages, baptisms, burials were conducted at Notre Dame Cathedral.

·         Old Quebec - Vieux Québec  - Notre Dame des Victoires (Diamond Harbour Chapel) (1824) First organized in 1608 and located next to the Port of Québec, this parish became in 1824 a separate congregation for the Irish immigrants. Father Patrick McMahon, presiding - Early Québec Irish settlers supplied much of the labour on the docks and built many of Québecs best-known landmarks. The parish became known to the Irish as Diamond Harbour Chapel > Church registers, part of Notre Dame Cathedral - Church photo, see; Les églises de mon quartier

·         Sainte Foy - Notre Dame de Foy (1831) First organized in 1679, this parish would welcome its first Irish parishioners in 1831 Rev. Henry Harkin, Rev. Alexander E. Maguire, presiding - The church burnt down in 1977 Prior to 1977, this church was the third focal point of the Irish community of Québec City. The region of Sainte Foy with nearby Sillery and Cap Rouge is still to this day, the bedroom community of the well-educated and of the professionals of the Old Capital. / BAnQ (1699-1941) / (1699-1941) / Church photo, see; Les églises de mon quartier or

·         Saint Roch Ward - Notre Dame de Saint-Roch (1831) First organized in 1829, this parish would welcome its first Irish family in 1831 - By 1851, the Irish population of Québec City had climbed to 9120, an 800% increase in thirty years. Saint Roch Ward in Lower Québec City, became the home to the second largest community of Irish families in the city - Church registers under Notre-Dame de Québec - Church photos, see; Les églises de mon quartier

·         Old Quebec - Vieux Québec - Notre Dame des Anges (1831) First organized in 1728, this chapel was located within the First Québec City Hospital (Hopital Général) and as such it welcomed many of the new born Irish children as early as 1831 - A book at the Archives Nationales du Québec in Montréal #787, covers in part the Irish Marriages from 1728 to 1900 - Church registers under Hôpital Général de Québec; BAnQ (1728-1941) / (1728-1941) / Church photo, see; Les églises de mon quartier

·         Upper Town - Haute Ville - Saint-Patrick Church (1832) Founded in 1832 and first located on McMahon Street, close to Hôtel Victoria. Organized for the special use of the Irish Catholic population by the celebrated Father Patrick McMahon. The first mass was celebrated on July 7th 1833. The number of parishioners of Saint Patrick numbered between 6,000 to 8,000 in 1833 / BAnQ (1856-1941) / (1856-1941) - Church photo, see; Les églises de mon quartier (present Church)

·         Upper Town Haute Ville - Cholera Burying Ground  (1832) The cemetery located on Grande Allée was opened during the year of the first cholera in 1832 and lasted until 1856 In 1832 alone, the cholera epidemic killed 3,451 individuals, the majority were Irish / For additional détails see;

·         Old Quebec - Vieux Québec - Saint Luke (Marine Hospital Catholic Mission) (1847) This hospital in comparison to other much larger hospitals of the region appears to have been the Hospital of the Irish Community in Québec. In 1847, hundreds of Irish immigrants who had been deemed to be in good health at Grosse Isle, upstream on the St. Lawrence were confirmed with the dreaded disease of the typhus fever. A substantial number of these Irish emigrants would succumb from this plague in various hospitals of the region including Saint Luke see also Grosse Isle (further down on this compilation) / Under Hôpital de la Marine - BAnQ (1847-1888) / (1847-1888) / Photo of hospital, see;

·         Beauport Nativity of Notre Dame (1854) First organized in 1673 In a 1832 document prepared by the Immigration Agent at the Port of Québec, Beauport was listed as being a choice destination of would-be Irish settlers.  I was able to ascertain that the first Irish marriage took place in 1854, which might indicate that Irish marriages, baptisms and burials were conducted at nearby Notre Dame Cathedral / BAnQ (1681-1941) / (1681-1941) / Church photo, see; Les églises de mon quartier

·         Sillery - Saint-Colomban of Sillery (1855) - The second Irish Church in Québec City Rev. Peter  Henry Harkin, a priest from Ireland was the first Pastor of the new church from 1855 His successor, Father Alexander Eustace Maguire, requested and served as Pastor of the Catholic Mission at Grosse-Isle in 1871 His uncle Bishop E. J. Horan served as Pastor at the Island Mission in 1847- Father Maguire did not survive the ordeal of Grosse Isle - The church no longer exist, it has been replaced by Saint-Michael of Sillery - BAnQ (1855-1941) / (1855-1941) / Church photo, see; Les églises de mon quartier

·         Champlain Ward Chapel of Our Lady of Perpetual Help / The Irish Chapel / Notre-Dame de la Garde (1860) Located from about 1860 in a former school for Irish boys, this chapel was located near the Port of Québec on Champlain street This church was the second home to many of the Irish dock workers, the region was also known as the Cove or Cap Blanc (White Cove) and also referred to by the Irish as Champlain Ward. Many of the Irish workers of that region would also work at the nearby Bell & Taylor Shipyards, in the construction of various ships. The many wharves along the St. Lawrence in Lower Town were the landing places of the immigrants between 1814 to the early 1920s. All marriages, baptisms and burials would have been carried-out at Saint Patrick or Notre Dame Cathedrals. - BAnQ under Notre Dame Cathedral (1860-1884) under Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde (1885-1941) / under Notre Dame Cathedral (1860-1884) under Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde (1885-1941) / Church photo, see; Les églises de mon quartier

·        Old Quebec Vieux Québec - Sacred Heart Hospital (1874) From 1874 to 1935, Irish baptisms, marriages were performed in the Hospital Chapel - BAnQ (1875-1941) / (1875-1941) -

·        Saint Jean Baptiste Ward - Saint John the Baptist (Saint Jean-Baptiste) (1886) First opened in 1860, the region could be described as blue-collar tenements, both French Canadians and Irish families inter-married as early as 1886 - BAnQ (1860-1940) / (1860-1940) / Church photo, see; Les églises de mon quartier

·         Cap Rouge - Saint Félix (1889) First organized in 1862 and located west of Sainte Foy - Sillery, a farming community in the 1860s blessed with fertile land along the shores of the St. Lawrence. I was able to trace the first Irish marriage at the parish in 1889 - BAnQ (1872-1941) / (1872-1941) - Church photo, see; Les églises de mon quartier

·         Charlesbourg - Notre Dame des Laurentides (1905) Located slightly north of Québec, it is now part of Québec City. In the early 1900s and prior, the region was prime farming country - BAnQ (1905-1941) / (1905-1941) / Church photo, see; Les églises de mon quartier

·         Québec - Up-town - Très Saint Sacrement (1921) Located in the region of Laval Université (Université de Laval) Many Irish descendants of the early emigrants became business and professional leaders of the Capital City. - BAnQ (1921-1941) / (1921-1941) / Church photo, see Les églises de mon quartier -

·         Up-town - Haute-Ville Saints Martyrs (1928) Located in an upscale region of the city. - BAnQ (1928-1941) / (1928-1941) - Church photo, see; Les églises de mon quartier -

·       Grosse Ile

·         In the sping of 1847, a seagoing ship brought 241 miserable immigrants fleeing the Great Famine in Ireland. They were anchored off Grosse Ile, an island below Québec where immigrants with typhus, cholera, and smallpox were quarantined. The Irish immigrants had brought an epidemic that would rage throughout Canada - In the cemetery below Telegraph Hill on Grosse Isle stands a monument which says: “In this secluded spot lie the mortal remains of 5424 persons who fleeing from pestilence and famine in Ireland in the year 1847 found in America but a grave” 

·         Saint Luke of Grosse Ile (Saint Luc) (1834) - BAnQ (1834-1936) / (1834-1936) /

·         Saint John the Evangelist (Anglican) (1823) / BAnQ (1823 & 1843-1922) / (1823 & 1843-1922)

·       North Shore of the St. Lawrence

·         Between 1820 and 1830, the Irish immigrants would move into Portneuf county and would join the Scottish Protestants who had previously established the area some 20 years prior. Towns such as Sainte Catherine of Jacques Cartier, Saint Gabriel of Valcartier, Shannon, Tewksbury, Stoneham, Lake Beauport among others became the new homes of the Irish in these northern communities.

·        Portneuf County

·         Many North American Irish descendants will tell you that their Irish ancestors first established their residence in the Portneuf region of Québec City. The region attracted Irish and Scottish farmers as early as 1816. The quality of the land is fertile and ideal for small farm owners. Portneuf County is located along the northern shores of the St. Lawrence River, slightly upstream and west of Québec City The leading Irish communities of Portneuf County and nearby Québec County were Sainte Catherine of Jacques Cartier (1832), Wexford Road of St. Gabriel of Valcartier (1820), Saint Gabriel of Valcartier (1820), Stoneham (1824), Shannon (1830), St. Dunstan (1830), Pont Rouge (1834) with surrounding communities such as Portneuf, St. Raymond, St. Basile, St. Christine and others. Most were farming communities with 50-acre farms. The region in the 1830s was a primary destination for Irish farmers with a North American destination who were willing to settle on a small acreage.

·         Deschambault (Portneuf) Saint Joseph (1798) - In 1832, the Government of Lower Canada issued a document addressed to Irish settlers arriving at the Port of Québec, indicating in part that the region of Portneuf County was a prime destination of Irish homesteaders, among the towns of the region listed were Deschambault, Tewksbury, Val Cartier, Beauport, Stoneham, Jacques Cartier and the town of Portneuf. / BAnQ (1713-1941) / (1713-1941) / Church photo, see; Les églises de mon quartier

·         Shannon of Jacques Cartier Saint-Josephs Mission (1830) - The Shannon mission church no longer exist but the small Irish Community is still active to this day and some of their parishioners are members of the Québec City Region of English Speaking Religious Organizations which include Protestant and Catholic church groups. - see;

·         Saint Catherine of Jacques Cartier - Sainte-Catherine (1832) This parish had the largest congregational base of Irish parishioners in Portneuf County, the first Irish marriage occurred in 1832 / BAnQ (1832-1941) / (1832-1941) / Church photo, see; Les églises de mon quartier

·         Fossambault of Portneuf / Pont Rouge Saint Patrick (1832) Between 1821 and 1828, the Seigniory of Fossambault would grant acreage suitable for farming to Andrew Wilson, George Thompson, John McCord, James Morrow on the Brulé Range. These four families were the first Irish settlers west of St. Catherine of Portneuf. The region was also known as Cap Santé. / BAnQ (1679-1941) under Sainte-Famille de Cap-Santé / (1679-1941) under Sainte-Famille de Cap Santé / Church photo, see; Les églises de mon quartier

·         Belcourt / Portneuf - Saint Basile du Sud de Portneuf (1847) Baptisms and mariages of French speaking families and Irish families can be found among the church records of this parish at one point of time / BAnQ (1847-1941) / (1847-1941) / Church photo, see; Les églises de monquartier

·         St. Raymond of Portneuf - Saint Raymond (1845) Another Irish, French Canadian parish of the region / BAnQ (1844-1941) / (1844-1941) / Church photo, see; Les églises de mon quartier

·         Saint Augustin Saint Augustin (1845) First organized in 1691 and located along the banks of the St. Lawrence, just west of Cap Rouge, Sainte Foy and Sillery, the region in the 1800s was most likely the best fertile land for farming in the Québec City region. To this day, large farms are still operational. The first Irish settlers in the region were worshipping at this church from about 1845 / BAnQ (1694-1941) / (1694-1941) / Church photo, see; Les églises de mon quartier

·         Saint Alban Saint Alban (1859) First organized in 1856, It would welcome among its ranks the Irish families in 1859 / BAnQ (1856-1941) / (1856-1941) / Church photo, see; Les églises de mom quartier

·         Tewksbury Saint James (Jacques) (1865) The region was first served by a mission as early as 1865, most likely as a mission of Stoneham or Saint Gabriel of Jacques Cartier, only in 1921 did the church of Saint James opened its doors. The church still exist to this day, it is only opened during the summer months Tewsbury was decreed by the management of the Port of Québec in 1832 as being a recommended destination for would-be Irish homesteaders. Please note that the town of Tewksbury is part of the County of Québec, but the town has always been associated with Portneuf - BAnQ (1921-1941) / (1921-1941) / Church photo, see; Le églises de mon quartier

·         Portneuf - Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows (Notre-Dane des Sept Douleurs) (1889) First organized in 1861, the parish would welcome its first Irish families about 1889 / BAnQ (1861-1941) / (1861-1941) / Church photo, see; Les églises de mon quartier

·         Pont Rouge Sainte Jeanne Chapel (1889) First organized in 1869, about 1889 it became another small Irish community, Pont Rouge is located west of Saint Catherine of Jacques Cartier. The region was once a vibrant Irish farming destination. The latter is also a participating member of the present-day English Community of Québec City / BAnQ (1869-1941) / (1869-1941) / Church photo, see; Les églises de mon quartier

·         Donnacona Saint Agnès (1917) The Irish of the region prior to 1917 were worshiping in Shannon. A few Irish families were also found in two neighboring villages; Cap Santé and Les Écureuils - By the 1980s most of the Irish of Donnacona had left the region / BAnQ (1917-1941) / (1917-1941) / Church photo, see; Les églises de mon quartier

·         Québec County

·         Stoneham - Saint-Edmond of Stoneham (1824) As early as 1817, Irish, Americans from Connecticut, Scots and British were settling the area. The town of Stoneham was recommended in the early 1830s by the British Authorities as a destination of choice for Irish Emigrants who wanted to settle on their own small farms / BAnQ (1856-1941) / (1856-1941) / Church photo, see; Les églises de mon quartier

·         Saint Gabriel of Valcartier Saint Gabriel (1843) First organized in 1820. With Saint Catherine of Jacques Cartier, Saint Gabriel was the heart of the Irish people of Portneuf county The first Irish marriage took place in 1843 / BAnQ (1855-1941) / (1855-1941) / Church photo, see; Les églises de mon quartier

·        Beauport Region

·         The region of Beauport is located east and north of Québec City and its northern limit is adjacent to the eastern limit of Portneuf County. These two regions located north of Québec City were first settled by Scottish immigrants between 1780 and 1790 to be followed from about 1820 to 1830 by Irish farmers. The majority of the farms allocated were small, less than 25 acres in a mountainous region, not suited for the raising of large crops. The latter does explain the exit of many of the Irish and Scots within three generations to better lifestyles in southern Québec, Ontario, the West and the U.S.A.

·         Ste-Brigitte de Laval - Sainte Brigitte de Laval (1834) Located slightly north of Lake Beauport, the first settlers to the parish were Irish in the early 1830s. Although the town of Sainte Brigitte de Laval is located within the county of Montmorency, the northern region of the latter is located next to Portneuf County and as so the region has been associated with the latter since its founding / BAnQ (1835-1941) / (1835-1941) / Church photo, see; Les églises de mon quartier

·         Lake Beauport Saint Dunstan (1834) The Irish church opened in 1834. The first surviving Irish marriage is dated in 1840. The church no longer exist, it burned-down / BAnQ (1834) / (1834)

·         Beauport Notre Dame (La Nativité) (1854) First organized in 1671 The first Irish family in the parish in 1854 / BAnQ (1681-1941) / (1681-1941) / Church photo, see; Les églises de mon quartier

·         Beauport Saint Ignatius of Loyola (1908) First organized in 1902 The Irish marriages began in 1908 / BAnQ (1914-1941) / (1914-1941) / Church photo, see; Les églises de mon quartier

·         Montmorency Saint Gregory (Grégoire) (1914) First organized in 1891, the Irish presence began in 1914 / BAnQ (1890-1941) / (1890-1941) / Church photo, see; Les églises de mon quartier

·         Compiled by: Jacques Gagné  - [email protected]

·         Last update: August 22nd 2012

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