Saturday, April 16, 2016
A Good Walking Day
A good walking day starting by taking a subway to Old Montreal. I love the play of light on the anodized steel sculpture at Vendôme metro station. I went on a walking tour of Irish Montreal - part of the Blue Metropolis Literary Festival (as was yesterday's event).
The tour took us past the original general hospital (more of a hospice) in Montreal. The Hôtel Dieu was where surgery happened. This hospital took in the elderly, the disabled, - men and women. It was run by the Soeur Grises (an order founded by Marguerite Bourgeoys. These sisters were the first to help the many Irish immigrants arriving in 1847 already ill with typhus.
Not all landmarks were related to the Irish. They were most of the labourers who were hired to build the Lachine Canal. We walked along it. This old switching station is slated to be renovated and repurposed as an art gallery, cafe and studio space for artists. We walked beside the bicycle path which goes along the canal - at some points it runs on both sides of the canal. Across the canal is where the fever sheds were located - scenes of horror as people lay dying in the most appalling conditions.
This rock commemorates the death of these immigrants. It now lies in the middle of a road leading to Victoria Bridge (many of the workers who built the bridge were Irish), but also in middle of what was a large Irish cemetery. Our guide was from the Montreal Irish Memorial Park Foundation. Their goal is to have a park in this area which would have a small museum where people could learn about the Irish Famine and the many immigrants who came to Montreal and succumbed to typhus on ships or on their arrival.