Irish Emigration and Canadian Settlement: Patterns, Links, and Letters
Published: February 1999© 1990
380 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 x 1.00 in, figures, maps, tables, h/ts throughout
In mid-nineteenth-century Canada, the Irish outnumbered the English and Scots two to one. Yet they have been much less studied than their US counterparts, even though their experience was very different. Irish settlers arrived earlier in Canada, formed a larger proportion of the founding communities, and were largely rural-based; more than half were Protestant. The Famine provided only a rather late part of the Irish emigration to Canada, which took place principally between 1816 and 1855.
The authors evaluate both emigration and settlement and present as well revealing personal documents about intense, often painful experiences of the settlers. Part I explores the geographical links – particularly the phenomenon of chain migration – that shaped decisions to leave Ireland. Part II examines patterns of settlement in the new land. Part III, with biographies of immigrants and collections of letters written home, chronicles personal and social life in the new land and the abiding interest in family and friends in Canada and back in Ireland. The documents illustrate links and patterns revealed in the earlier analysis of emigration and settlement; they also offer an additional, intimate perspective on a key phase in the cultural history of Canada and Ireland.