Once again my wife and I ventured out from our COVID-19 confinement – rest assured we remained in our large hamster ball, wore masks, and maintained proper social distancing. We decided to stroll – or roll – through the part of Montreal known as Griffintown.
Griffintown (once known affectionately by residents as The Griff) was the original home to thousands of Irish immigrants during the famine and fever that struck Ireland during the mid-nineteenth century. It bore a similarity to Manhattan’s Five Points, not only in the make-up of its population, but in geographic shape. If they survived the horrific conditions on what became known as ‘coffin ships’ due to the high rate of mortality on them, the new arrivals were first quarantined at Grosse Isle in the St. Lawrence in an effort to stem the spread of fever. Only then could they come to Montreal. Griffintown is close to the docks where many immigrants found work.
We have often strolled through this part of town, which as you can imagine is much changed today. A bit of a hatchet-job on the area in the early sixties, and now expanding gentrification, have changed the face of the district forever.
One thing we did this time was to follow an online audio tour of Griffintown that provided us with some background and history from former and present residents. Should you ever get the chance, I highly recommend GriffinSound.ca.