Saturday, April 25, 2009


From the book The Catholic Irish in New Brunswick by Leo J Hynes.
Famine and disease had gripped all of Ireland after Father Sweeney had been in Chatham New Brunswick for two years. It was then that the great exodus from Ireland began in earnest. Thousands fled and Chatham was to be the receiving port for some of the more tragic arrivals reaching Canada during the saddest years of migration. The vessel Looshtauk out of Dublin, was one of a continuing flotilla of emigrant ships. It had 467 passengers and was two days out of Cork when two boys became ill with the ship's fever. This quickly spread and in seven weeks at sea, 117 passengers died and were buried at sea. this had forced Captain Maine to change his original course for Quebec and seek the nearest available port, which was Chatham on the Miramichi.
On a Thursday afternoon ,June 3 1847, the ship's pilot boat came in at Henderson's wharf where Captain Maine asked to speak with the public authorities, requesting medical assistance and food supplies. On Friday evening the famous shipping pioneer Joseph Cunard, sent his steamer to tow the Looshtauk up from the harbour's mouth to Middle Island where a temporary shed had been hastily erected and, by Monday morning, June 7 the sick were removed from the ship and placed under the care of Dr. Vondy of Chatham.
The brig Richard White had arrived from Cork the day after the Looshtauk tied up and she carried eight passengers and two crewmen who also were sick. they ,too, were quarantined on the island. In the next week the bark Olivar and the brig John Hawkes also sailed into the Mirimichi. The Olivar had attempted to dock on Chatham wharf but, before it could do so, a Dr Key boarded her and found seven of her crew ill with typhus. The ship's passengers had been landed previously in Newfoundland. This boat was also sent immediately to the quarantine station. However, the John Hawkes, out of Limerick, had arrived on Tuesday June 9, with all 120 passengers healthy and they were allowed to disembark at Chatham.
Two weeks after the first sick were quarantined, that is on June 22, Dr. Vondy reported that 37 had died. Three days later he himself became ill and died ten days later on Friday June 2 at 8am. He was only 26 years old. His remains were placed in a double coffin made air tight and conveyed from Middle Island to Coulson's wharf from where it was taken to St Paul's churchyard for burial followed by an immense concourse of grieving people. A newspaper reported " We have seldom witnessed an occurence that cast such a deep gloom over the community. As soon as his death was announced, all the shops closed and business partially suspended throughout the day.
Two other schooners ,diverted from Quebec, the Victoria and the Independence, also came into the Miramichi. The Victoria landed 20 passengers, three with typhus, the Independence 13 with typhus. Of the 457 passengers who had sailed from Liverpool on the Looshtauk, 224 survived with 167 staying in the Chatham area and the remainder going to Quebec. The quarantine station was on Middle Island was closed near the end of the year 1847, a year that had witnessed so much suffering and tragedy endured by the immigrants as well as by those quarantined on Partridge Island near Saint John, at Hospital Island near St Andrews, and on Grosse Isle at the approach to Quebec City.
The people of Chatham erected a monument to commemorate the heroism of Dr Vondy in the St Paul's anglican churchyard in Bushville. In their cemetery the parishioners of St Michael's Catholic parish placed a monument in memory of the victims from the Looshtauk.
So many Irish people left Ireland to look for a new place to settle and ended becoming sick and dying. It must have been a very sad time, losing love ones in a strange new place.
I tought I would do a different blog today, so I chose this book on the Irish people.
I do hope you have enjoyed reading it, I hope I did not make any spelling errors.
Thank you for the visit, do stop by again.
Have a great day

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