“Poverty and Place: documenting and representing Toronto’s Catholic Irish, 1845-1890” by Dr. William Jenkins

Date: 5 December, 2018


“In the concluding pages of Map-making, landscapes, and memory: a geography of colonial and early modern Ireland, c. 1530-1750, William Smyth wrote that by the 1820s, America ‘had truly become Ireland’s western frontier’. Around this time, however, other New World frontiers beyond the jurisdiction of the United States were attracting Irish emigrants, Canada foremost among them…this chapter will demonstrate how this overwhelmingly working-class group of Catholics would become the first significant and recognized minority – or, more accurately, ‘out-group’ – in [Toronto’s] history.” Read the full article here.

Dr. William Jenkins is a professor at York University in the Department of Geography who studies the migration of the Irish to Canada and the United States between 1815-1914. He has organized the Irish Famine Symposium, in which scholars came together in May 2018 to present and discuss their work on the Irish Famine and have solicited stories from contemporary descendants of Irish Famine migrants.

In honour of Professor William J. Smyth, a historical geographer at University College Cork who co-edited the Atlas of the Great Irish Famine, more than thirty scholars contributed to an edited collection of essays, entitled At the Anvil. Dr. Jenkins’s essay explores the history of the Irish of Stanley Street in Toronto.

Dr. Jenkins’s research into the social history of Stanley Street is ongoing and he has received a grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRCC) for further exploration of the topic.