Of the over two million people who emigrated from Ireland during the Great Famine of the mid 1800's, tens of thousands chose to make Canada their new home. This mass immigration had a tremendous impact on the social makeup of the young Canada. The 38,000 Irish immigrants who arrived in Toronto in 1847 nearly tripled the city's population, and they were warmly welcomed. Toronto Mayor David Miller called the arrival of these immigrants, "one of the seminal events in the history of Toronto."
To pay tribute to the contribution Irish immigrants and their descendants, the city of Toronto has dedicated a waterfront park to commemorate the mass immigration. The unveiling of Toronto's Ireland Park was attended by Irish President Mary McAleese. Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, and Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty.
A prominent addition to the new park is a bronze monument, created by Irish sculptor Rowan Gillespie. It is a reminder of the thousands who suffered and died upon arrival, having taken sick on their cramped transatlantic voyage.
Though the mass immigration of Irish occurred over 150 years ago, Irish-Canadians remain in touch with their ancestral roots. According to the 2001 census, close to four million Canadians claim some Irish ancestry.