Atlantic Canada’s Irish Immigrants


A transformative work that explodes assumptions about the importance of the Great Irish Potato Famine to Irish immigration.

In this major study, Lucille Campey traces the relocation of around ninety thousand Irish people to their new homes in Atlantic Canada. She shatters the widespread misconception that the exodus was primarily driven by dire events in Ireland. The Irish immigration saga is not solely about what happened during the Great Potato Famine of the 1840s; it began a century earlier.

Although they faced great privations and had to overcome many obstacles, the Irish actively sought the better life that Atlantic Canada offered. Far from being helpless exiles lacking in ambition who went lemming-like to wherever they were told to go, the Irish grabbed their opportunities and prospered in their new home.

Campey gives these settlers a voice. Using wide-ranging documentary sources, she provides new insights about why the Irish left and considers why they chose their various locations in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland. She highlights how, through their skills and energy, they benefitted themselves and contributed much to the development of Atlantic Canada.

This is essential reading for anyone wishing to understand the history of the Irish exodus to North America and provides a mine of information useful to family historians.


Prix du Québec


Atlantic Canada's Irish Immigrants is a missing chapter in the story of many Canadian families.

Open Book Ontario

Drawing on the immigrants’ own words, the book looks at their experiences, origins in Ireland, the voyage, where they settled, and how they lived afterwards.… A mine of information for the family historian.

Canada’s Anglo-Celtic Connections

The book is of immense help in understanding the settlement patterns of the Irish in the Atlantic Provinces. An excellent work, and well-recommended.

Families, Ontario Genealogical Society journal

About the Author

Lucille H. Campey

Posted by Kendra on October 30, 2014

Lucille H. Campey

Lucille H. Campey was born in Ottawa. A professional researcher and historian, she has a master’s degree in medieval history from Leeds University and a Ph.D. from Aberdeen University in emigration history. She is the author of fourteen books on early Scottish, English, and Irish emigration to Canada. She was the recipient of the 2016 Prix du Québec for her work researching Irish emigration to Canada.