Grosse Ile Part III

PART III THE ORPHANS  

  • In the priests’ quarters on the island, Father Elzéar Taschereau, young, strong, recently ordained, in the first of his letters to his Bishop, described conditions on shipboard.  The first ship had disgorged its passengers in mid-May. 
  •  By June 3rd the chaplains had begun to visit the sick on the ships before anyone had been brought ashore.

  • Father Taschereau wrote: “Most of them have for a bed the boards and few filthy wisps of straw that do more harm than good: still, how many more, after a month and half of the crossing, are wearing the same clothes and the same shoes that they had when they came on board ship, and which they have not taken off, day or night? I have seen people whose feet were so stuck to their socks that I could not anoint them!  … What astounds me, is that they can live another forty-eight hours without all dying….
  • The number of orphans is very great and sadly enough we could not do anything more for them than to entrust them to a few mothers of families, and give the some money to buy food. Most of them will die like the others: happy not to have known their misfortune here!  I saw a child playing with the hand of his mother who had just died!  It had always seemed to me that the presence of a dead body in a ship must arouse some kind of feeling, but I have already seen many that have been pointed out to me with assort of indifference when I passed beside their beds or where we lay them while waiting for the coffins to be ready: I see this as a new mark of degradation caused by an excess of suffering and misfortune.”