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article imageToronto's Ireland Park Honours Those Who Escaped The Famine Special

By KJ Mullins     Apr 13, 2009 in Travel
At the foot of Bathurst Street in Toronto is a small museum project honouring the Irish that made their way to Toronto. Statues dot the Irish Park.
The Irish Park sits along the shore of Lake Ontario with it's haunting statues of those starving immigrants who sailed to Canada during the potato famine of 1847.
When the park was dedicated Irish President Mary McAleese called the site "a memorial that links Ireland and Canada in a very, very powerful way, and brings that story right into the 21st century."
Back in 1847 over 38,000 Irish landed on the very shore where Ireland Park now sits. They outnumbered the residents of the city. At the time Toronto's population was only 20,000.
Ireland Park
Ireland Park
KJ Mullins
Toronto was just beginning. The land was harder than in Ireland to farm for the newcomers who quickly become the city's unskilled labourers.
Ireland Park
Ireland Park
KJ Mullins
The women were able to be at home raising their families. In other parts of North America the Irish were treated badly. Not Toronto. The Irish went to the eastern part of the city and built shantees on the Don Flats close to where the work was.
Ireland Park
Ireland Park
KJ Mullins
The trip was cruel, over 1,100 of the Irish died of hunger during the voyage. Those who came off the ships were bone thin.
Ireland Park
Ireland Park
KJ Mullins
The park was designed by Jonathan M. Kearns. The bronze sculptures were created by Irish sculptor Rowan Gillespie.
The names of the Irish immigrants are hidden from view  lining the stones at the top of the park.
The names of the Irish immigrants are hidden from view, lining the stones at the top of the park.
KJ Mullins
The park is small, hidden away from the city. The sculptures are haunting, whisper thin paper hungry for a new life and life saving food. They left the world they knew for the unknown. The Irish helped build this town. They are to be honoured.
Ireland Park
Ireland Park
KJ Mullins
There are fourteen diverse buildings across Ontario that have been singled out for recognition in the Ontario Association of Architects (OAA) 2009 awards program.
This honour includes Ireland Park, designed as a rocky environment evocative of the character of the landscape left behind by Irish famine immigrants.
Ireland Park
Ireland Park
KJ Mullins
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