Archaeology and the Commemoration of the Irish Famine: A Report from Kingston

Council for Northeastern Historical Archaeology (CNEHA) Conference, 2022
Eva MacDonald

Across eastern Canada, Irish Famine commemoration sites remind us that geopolitical tensions are not a modern phenomenon, and they can have horrific consequences. The oldest memorial was erected in 1859, within living memory of the Famine, by railway workers to commemorate the thousands who died in fever sheds at Point St. Charles, Québec. In Kingston, an Angel of the Resurrection statue to commemorate “Black ‘47” was donated by the Catholic Archdiocese, and between 1894 and 1966 it marked the burials of typhus victims on the grounds of the general hospital. Plans to redevelop the Kingston General Hospital have necessitated the archaeological excavation of the graves that remained. The reburial of the remains will bring a new opportunity to commemorate the Irish Famine in Kingston, with a fresh story told through the contribution of archaeology.