In the summer of 1847, at a time when the City of Toronto had a population of no more than 20,000 inhabitants, some 38,560 Irish migrants fleeing the Great Famine landed on the city’s waterfront, many of them ill with typhus or other ailments. The administrative powers of Toronto mounted what would have been a gargantuan project to assess the new arrivals, and provide care where needed. At the center of this effort was the City’s medical profession, which had to attend to those afflicted with typhus, an incurable and often fatal illness that was rampant amongst the migrants, spread by lice aboard the over-crowded ships as they crossed the Atlantic.
The essential medical and humanitarian service provided to the newly arrived and desperate Irish migrants laid the foundation for the Canada we know today. These caregivers not only aided Irish migrants who became the ancestors of many modern-day Canadians, but also established a heritage of kindness to those less fortunate than themselves that carries on to this day. Grasett Park serve to remind local residents and visitors that the sacrifice of these individuals is not just a chapter of our past, but a legacy that enriches the present and inspires our future.