Prince Edward Island

John Francis Maguire

Prince Edward Island—How the Irish came—Visit to an Irish Settlement—Prosperity of the Irish—A Justice of the Peace—The Land Question—What the Tenant claims—The Tenant League and the Government—'Confiscation' profitable to the Government, and beneficial to the People—A Scotch Bishop's Testimony to the Irish—The Irish and their Pastors—The Sisters of Notre Dame—A graceful Gift.

ONE of the smallest, certainly not the least interesting, of the British colonies of North America is that of Prince Edward Island. Though not exceeding in superficial area the size of an ordinary Irish county, and actually not more than two-thirds that of the county of Cork, with a population not greater than that of the city of Cork, this beautiful little island enjoys the advantages of free representative institutions, and a system of government based upon popular suffrage and amenable to popular control. The authority of the Crown is represented by a Lieutenant-Governor; while in the House of Assembly the leading parties into which the political world of the colony is divided have their recognised leaders and accredited organs. To such an extent is this carried, that the gentleman to whom the party out of office delegates, either formally or by tacit assent, the privilege of speaking in its name, is described in the 'Parliamentary Reporter' (the 'Hansard' of Prince Edward Island), and referred to in debate, as 'the Leader of the Opposition'—the Gladstone or the Disraeli of the colony. It is not, however, with the institutions of the island this work has to do; but this bare allusion to the form of government which its inhabitants enjoy will be found necessary when noticing a movement of rather an important character, fraught with consequences of no small moment to the future of a people whose main resource lies in the produce of their fertile soil.

To the general population of Prince Edward Island the Irish bear a considerable proportion; and not only are they to be found in the principal towns, and scattered over the face of the island, mixed up with the other nationalities—French, Scotch, and English—of which the population is composed, but they form settlements of their own, exclusively Irish in race and Catholic in creed.

The Irish in America, first published in 1868, provides an invaluable account of the extreme difficulties that 19th Century Irish immigrants faced in their new homeland and the progress which they had nonetheless made in the years since arriving on a foreign shore. A new edition, including additional notes and an index, has been published by Books Ulster/LibraryIreland:

Paperback: 700+ pages The Irish in America

ebook: The Irish in America