Irish Heritage Quebec is currently involved in an effort to bring about the removal of the commemorative plaque placed on the De Salaberry facade of St. Patrick’s High School by the 78th Fraser Highlanders with the complicity of the Central Québec School Board. The plaque commemorates the 78th Fraser Highlanders who participated in the Battle of the Plains of Abraham on September 13, 1759. It was unveiled on September 12, 2009 in relative secrecy, with no public announcement made in any newspaper.
The plaque is inappropriate on a site that has been identified with the Irish community of Québec for over 150 years. From 1832 to 1856 this land was the St. Louis Cemetery, also known as the Cholera Burial Ground. More than 5000 Irish and French victims were interred there. When St. Patrick’s Parish came into existence in 1856, it became the owner of the eastern part of the cemetery. The Parish acquired the other half once Notre-Dame de Québec Parish opened Belmont Cemetery. Until 1879 the site was known as St. Patrick’s Cemetery.
St. Patrick’s School, which later became St. Patrick’s High School, was built on this site in 1918 on land donated by St. Patrick’s Parish. The inscription St. Patrick’s School is carved in stone over what was once the main entrance to the building. This inscription now appears a few feet above the plaque.
The site and the building on it have never had any direct link to the Fraser Highlanders as is well evidenced by the words “near here” on the plaque. The research of the National Battlefields Commission indicates that in 1759 the 78th Fraser Highlanders were lined up on what would later become the intersection of Cartier and René-Levesque Avenues. This is illustrated in the item “Commemoration Gone Wrong” below.
Irish Heritage Quebec also deplores the lack of community consultation by the Central Québec School Board at any stage in the course of its dealings with the 78th Fraser Highlanders organization.
In November of 2010, The Commission de la Capitale Nationale added their support to our efforts as did the United Irish societies of Montreal.