An estimated half-million Irish were evicted from their cottages by the British during the genocide. Unscrupulous landlords either applied a legal judgment owing for back-rent or simply paid to send pauper families overseas to Quebec, Canada. Landlords would first make phony promises of money, food, and clothing, then pack the half-naked people in overcrowded British sailing ships, poorly built and often unseaworthy, that became known as coffin ships.
The three thousand mile journey, depending on winds and the captain’s skill, could take from 40 days to three months. Upon arrival in the Saint Lawrence River, the ships were supposed to be inspected for disease and any sick passengers removed to quarantine facilities on Grosse Isle, a small island thirty miles downstream from Quebec City.