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Everyone Has a History; Your Heritage and Why it’s Important

By: Laurie McKeown

Where do you come from? Why did your ancestors move and why did they choose that particular place to live? How and when did they get there?  So many questions but too few answers. In 1825, James Skelly of County Westmeath was offered a land grant in the Seigneurie of Lake of Two Mountains from Father Jackson of the Sulpician Order of Montreal. Like many of his fellow countrymen, Skelly and his family suffered from severe poverty at this time in Ireland. Deciding to stay put in his homeland, Skelly’s three sons accepted the land grant and left for a better life in Quebec. A few years earlier in 1823, William McManus left his Irish home in County Tipperary for Lower Canada. Crossing the Atlantic for these Irish immigrants was a hazardous trip, a potential tragedy waiting to happen every day during those long seven-weeks. The ship went as far as Quebec City and from there they had to find their own way west along the St. Lawrence River. Steamboat companies bound for Montreal loaded up their boats with as many as two hundred men, women and children and at the end of this week-long voyage, they disembarked in Lachine to avoid the rapids and continued the rest of the way on foot. But, their arduous journey wasn’t over yet. Both the Skelly brothers and McManus would now have to find room on another steamer or large river raft to continue their journey up the Ottawa river.

Saint-Colomban Cemetery Restoration Project

Saint-Colomban is not the only cemetery in the Mirabel region that was populated by early Irish migrants. There are many other small cemeteries in the area whose stones have broken, and the remnants discarded in the back of the church property. It is our hope that we can set a standard with our restoration of the Saint-Colomban cemetery, and it will encourage others to join forces to preserve these other historic sites.

To preserve the cemetery and raise funds to:

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