If you are visiting Quebec or planning a vacation in the Quebec City area, you should include in your itinerary the visit of Grosse Île, this place of history of Canada.
TRAVELPRE has gathered for you information about this place of history, information that should help you learn more about Grosse Island and help you in planning your trip.
Big Island-its history
Let us first situate ourselves in the context. In the nineteenth century, a large number of people left Europe to remake their lives in North America. Around 1830, only in Quebec City, by far the main gateway to Canada, this entry of immigrants represents an annual average of 30 000 arrivals of which two-thirds are Irish.
However, this surge in unprecedented immigration on the St. Lawrence River occurs at a time when large epidemics of cholera and smallpox are being slaughtered in Europe. In order to prevent the spread of diseases, the quarantine station of the Big Island is therefore established. It would open in 1832 and it would continue its activities until it closed in 1937.
More than 7000 people are buried in Grosse Île, the majority of whom are victims of the typhus epidemic of 1847. The Irish memorial bears witness to the plight of Irish immigrants who were victims of the Great Famine of 1845-1849. In 1847, between 40 and 50 people died of typhus every day on Big Island. That year, 76 000 Irish transited to Grosse Île.
Grosse Île was also the seat of an experimental military base where experiments related to bacteriological warfare were carried out in secret. In fact, the Department of National Defence took control of the Big Island from 1951 to 1956 in order to pursue research on bacteriological warfare must be said, the place offered ideal conditions for this type of centre: isolation, no The population and infrastructure already in place.
After 1957, Grosse Île will regain its primary function and will become a quarantine station but this time it is animal quarantine and an international Centre for Veterinary Research. Agriculture Canada took over in 1957 by installing its veterinary pathology Division. In 1965, the department also transferred its infectious animal diseases Division. The island thus reconnects with its former vocation of quarantine station, but this time for the benefit of animals, especially those imported from Europe. The Big Island station remained in operation until 1984.
Big Island Memorial
In the landscaped trails of Grosse Ile you can walk to the Celtic cross, the Western Cemetery and the memorial. This memorial was dedicated to the memory of the immigrants, the station’s employees, the sailors, the doctors and the priests buried on Big Island. The memorial is located very close to the Irish cemetery.
Large Island Disinfection Building
At the entrance to the island, the disinfection Building presents a multimedia exhibition that will allow you to relive the big events that marked the history of Grosse Île. So like immigrants, you can enter the disinfection building, meet the station staff and then visit the multimedia exhibition that tells the story of the site. By visiting the ovens, showers and waiting rooms, you will also have the opportunity to better understand the disinfection process that immigrants had to undergo during their stay on Grosse Île.
Other activities on Grosse Île
Also, during your visit to Grosse île, you can take the train ride to get to the centre of the island, where the employees of the quarantine station once lived. You will have the opportunity to visit the Lazaret the oldest large island building witnessing the tragic events of 1847.
Several other historical buildings are still present on the island.
Here are the main tips that park Canada gives you if you ever expect to visit Big Island
* Provide good clothing, walking shoes and rain gear if applicable;
* Learn about the local weather and the level of difficulty associated with the activities. Occasionally, especially in the months of May and October, the historic site closes due to unfavourable weather conditions;
* A food service is available on site. It is best to contact us about this for more information or to book. You can also bring your lunch. Picnic tables are at your disposal.
Unless the conditions are défaborables, Grosse Île is open every day to visitors from mid-May to mid-October of each year.
How to reach the Big Island
Grosse Île is located in the Isle-aux-Cranes archipelago, 48 km east of Quebec City. As this is an island, the ways to visit Big Island are therefore limited. The boats to transport you to Grosse Île leave the following places: Berthier-sur-Mer, Quebec or Île d’orléans.
To find out the schedules and fares associated with each ferry, just check the website of the cruise companies that offer transportation to Grosse Île.
Big Island from Berthier-sur-Mer
For your information, Berthier-sur-Mer is on the south shore of Quebec City. In Berthier-sur-Mer, a private company, the Lachance cruises offer many departures every day.
Big Island from Quebec
Cruises the Coudrier offers departures to Grosse Île from the port of Québec, 180 Dalhousie Street, Pier 19, near the lock of the Louise Basin.
Big Island from the island of Orléans
Cruises Le Coudrier also offers departures to the Grosse Îleà from Île d’orléans. You have to cross on the island by the bridge of Île d’orléans. Then follow the Royal Road West to St. Laurent. Then head to the wharf of this locality.
The price for an adult varies approximately between $46 and $70 (plus taxes). In fact, the price will vary depending on the place of boarding. Please note that, unless there is a change, the price of the cruise companies includes the entrance fees on the site as well as the guided tour.
TRAVELPRE invites you to contact Parc Canada or cruise companies to find out the exact rates currently applicable to your Big Island visit.