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Irish Immigration To Canada Essay

1468 words - 6 pages


Irish Immigration to Canada

The Irish began immigrating to North America in the 1820s, when the lack of jobs and poverty forced them to seek better opportunities elsewhere after the end of the major European wars. When the Europeans could finally stop depending on the Irish for food during war, the investment in Irish agricultural products reduced and the boom was over. After an economic boom, there comes a bust and unemployment was the result. Two-thirds of the people of Ireland depended on potato harvests as a main source of income and, more importantly, food. Then between the years of 1845 and 1847, a terrible disease struck the potato crops. The plague left acre after acre of Irish farmland covered with black rot. The failure of the potato yields caused the prices of food to rise rapidly. With no income coming from potato harvests, families dependent on potato crops could not afford to pay rent to their dominantly British and Protestant landlords and were evicted only to be crowded into disease-infested workhouses. Peasants who were desperate for food found themselves eating the rotten potatoes only to develop and spread horrible diseases. ¡§Entire villages were quickly homeless, starving, and diagnosed with either cholera or typhus.¡¨(Interpreting¡K,online) The lack of food and increased incidents of death forced incredible numbers of people to leave Ireland for some place which offered more suitable living conditions. Some landlords paid for the emigration of their tenants because it made more economic sense to rid farms of residents who were not paying their rent. Nevertheless, emigration did not prove to be an antidote for the Famine. The ships were overcrowded and by the time they reached their destination, approximately one third of its passengers had been lost to disease, hunger and other complications. However, many passengers did survive the journey and, as a result, approximately ¡§1.5 million Irish people immigrated to North America during the 1840¡¦s and 1850¡¦s.¡¨(Bladley, online) As a consequence of famine, disease (starvation and disease took as many as one million lives) and emigration, ¡§Ireland¡¦s population dropped from 8 million to 5 million over a matter of years.¡¨(Bladley, online) Although Britain came to the aid of the starving, many Irish blamed Britain for their delayed response and for centuries of political hardship as basis for the cause of the Famine. The Famine even affected Ireland in years to come by changing its social and cultural traditions profoundly. The Famine also prompted new trends of immigration, hence shaping the histories of both North America and Britain. It also called for an urgent political change in the Irish system (the Irish Republic resulted).
When the first ships arrived on the ports of Canada, quarantine shelters that were prepared for emigrants became so overcrowded that military tents outside shelters were used temporarily. The tents were often floored with wooden boards and patients...

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