Toronto Through My Lens

Ireland Park

On the waterfront, behind the Canada Malting Co. towers on Eireann Quay, sits Ireland Park. The Park commemorates the Irish Famine migrants who arrived on Toronto’s shores between 1846 and 1849.

An Unfortunate End

During 1847 alone, at the peak of Ireland’s Great Famine, some 38,500 Irish men, women and children landed at Dr. Reese’s Wharf in Toronto, then a city of about 20,000. Weak from hunger and stricken with illness aboard overcrowded sailing ships, approximately 20% of those who embarked upon the long voyage perished at sea or shortly after their arrival at sites along the St. Lawrence River, including the quarantine station at Grosse Île, Québec.

Within months of the migrants reaching Toronto, the city recorded 1,186 fatalities due to contagious disease, including the deaths of compassionate local clergymen, government officials, and medical workers who came to the migrants’ aid. Their names are inscribed upon the park’s sculptural memorial columns, which are composed of limestone from Kilkenny, Ireland:

Memorial Columns
The Fatalities

The Park Opens

Ireland Park was opened on June 21, 2007, by Mary McAleese, President of Ireland and Robert G. Kearns, Founder of Canada Ireland Foundation. The park was designed by Jonathan M. Kearns, Kearns Mancini Architects.


Situated within the park are five bronze sculptures commemorating the migrants’ arrival in Canada. The sculptures are collectively known as Arrival, created by Irish sculptor Rowan Gillespie:


The Arrival sculptures form a companion group to seven bronze sculptures, entitled Departure (image below), situated on the banks of the River Liffey in Dublin.

Banks of River Liffey, Dublin, Ireland
(Image in Public Domain)

1 Comment

  1. David

    i brought my brother here one cold winter day. We were awe struck by this sculpture. It was sad but awakening to see this for the first time. This area along the waterfront really needs to be fixed up. I know the grain elevators are supposed to be refurbished, but like many things in Toronto, it takes forever. Having said that, I love to walk the waterfront, as you know Marvin. We have done it together.

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