Dr. Colin McMahon’s Research on the role of Irish Laborers in establishing the Black Stone Famine Monument in Montreal

by irishcanadianfamineresearcher


The leading researcher on the history and cultural memory of the Black Stone famine monument in Montreal is Dr. Colin McMahon.  His doctoral thesis is entitled “Ports of Recall: Memory of the Great Irish Famine in Liverpool and Montreal” which he completed at York University in Toronto in 2010.  His MA thesis is entitled “Quarantining the past : commemorating the Great Irish Famine on Grosse-Île (2001) and it remains the best work on the subject.


Dr. McMahon is also the author of “Montreal’s Ship Fever Monument: An Irish Famine Memorial in the Making,” The Canadian Journal of Irish Studies, Vol. 33, No. 1, Ireland and Quebec / L’Irlande et le Québec (Spring, 2007), pp. 48-60; as well as a forthcoming article entitled “Recrimination and Reconciliation: Great Famine Memory in Liverpool and Montreal at the Turn of the Twentieth Century” (Atlantic Studies: Global Currents, special issue on “Irish Global Migration and Memory: Transnational Perspectives of Ireland’s Great Hunger and Exodus,” eds. Marguérite Corporaal and Jason King).

In his forthcoming article, Colin McMahon notes that “there is some evidence to suggest that Irish labourers” who were working on the construction of Montreal’s Victoria Bridge in 1859 and “living at the waterfront in the former fever sheds [of 1847] demanded that their employer, Petro, Brassey, and Betts, erect a monument at the site of the burial grounds, previously marked only by ‘small mound and a cross'”. 

He cites James Hodges, Construction of the Great Victoria Bridge in Canada. London: John Weale, 1860, p. 75.

James Hodge Construction of the Victoria Bridge

According to James Hodge (75-76):

Hodge Excerpt 1

Hodge Excerpt 2

A link to James Hodges, Construction of the Great Victoria Bridge in Canada can be found at: