Site of planned memorial to 6,000 Irish Montrealers to be sold to Hydro-Quebec
Published Friday, May 19, 2017 8:18AM EDT
Last Updated Friday, May 19, 2017 7:18PM EDT
Plans for a memorial to Irish settlers have reached a roadblock.
The plan, part of Montreal's 375th anniversary, is to create a memorial over a mass graveyard near the Victoria Bridge, the final resting place for 6,000 Irish immigrants who died of typhus fever in the mid-1800s.
Some of their descendants have been demanding permission to transform the site, which is now a parking lot, into a memorial park.
The group is now facing a major setback because the Crown corporation Canada Lands Company, which owns the land the parking lot is on, is selling the property.
A spokesperson for the corporation told CTV Montreal Thursday evening that the property will be sold to Hydro-Quebec in July.
The memorial that marks the grave site now is known as Black Rock, a 10-foot tall engraved stone that sits on a median between traffic lanes on Bridge St. in Pointe-Saint-Charles.
The Irish community says Black Rock and the small plaque in the parking lot across the street aren't enough to honour the thousands of Irish immigrants who died there in1847.
The Montreal Irish Monument Park Foundation has been asking for this space to be turned into a proper memorial green space for five years and say even though the land is set for sale, they aren't giving up.
“They’re saying, ‘Well, we will have some kind of memorial to the Irish regardless of what we do with the space,’ but really if they think they are going to put a plaque on the side of a building saying there are 6,000 dead Irish here or they are going to take the rock which is across the street and bring it over here and put it in a space that's 20-by-20. well it's not going to ride with us,” said executive director Fergus Keyes.
The Canada Lands Company said there is a provision in the contract that will require Hydro-Quebec to collaborate with authorities and the Irish community to come up with an appropriate commemoration, but they would not give any further details until the sale is final.