Canada's Grand River Has a Fasicinating Past

Canada's Grand River Has a Fasicinating Past
AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Jacques Boissinot


The Chateau Frontenac, left, and Dufferin Terrace in Quebec City overlook the St. Lawrence River, whose story is elemental to the development of Canada. (Mathieu Belanger for The Globe and Mail)
Who was Mary Kelly?

She might have been a wife, a mother, a daughter, sister. She could have been both infant and grandmother – for there are 10 Mary Kellys buried here, all 10 lying in mass graves below the fresh-cut grass in an eerily quiet meadow that is buffeted by high rock from a strong nor'easter turning the St. Lawrence estuary into whitecaps and flying spray.

All 10 Mary Kellys died during the summer and fall of 1847, when some 100,000 desperate Irish fled the potato famine. No fewer than 398 ships put in at Grosse Île to discharge the sick passengers and place the remainder under quarantine until officials were able to declare them free of typhus and allowed to continue on to Quebec City.

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