Library and Archives Canada
Symbol of the Government of Canada

Institutional links

Photograph of a rocky beach with four buildings and a cross in the background


View of the second, third and first-class hotels next to the wash house and the Celtic cross, 2007

ARCHIVED - In Quarantine:
Life and Death on Grosse Île, 1832-1937

Archived Content

This archived Web page remains online for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. This page will not be altered or updated. Web pages that are archived on the Internet are not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards. As per the Communications Policy of the Government of Canada, you can request alternate formats of this page on the Contact Us page.

Banner: Black and white photo collage of a young woman wearing a white blouse, two men with moustaches and suits, two women, and a stone Celtic cross

Life and Death in Quarantine

Millions of European immigrants left their families and homelands to start a new life in Canada, where they hoped to realize their dreams and aspirations.

Passengers experienced many conflicting feelings during their sea voyage. They were assailed by doubts and fear of the unknown, melancholy and sadness. They became seasick, and worried about dying from illness or being shipwrecked. Yet, at the same time, they gained confidence, marvelling at the unfamiliar marine life and landscapes, taking hope as sailing conditions improved, and renewing their faith by reading the Psalms.

Their journeys were made longer by the presence of contagious diseases on board. Grosse Île became the immigrants' first contact with their new country. Some made it their final resting place, but for most, it was only a brief stay. With the care and assistance of the dedicated staff, the newcomers were ready to set off for their destination and rejoin their families or begin a new life.

In this section, through the wealth of letters, photographs, maps, drawings and records, you will learn about life and death at sea and at the Grosse Île quarantine station during its years of operation, from 1832 to 1937.