Bones found on beach in Quebec’s Gaspé are from 1847 Irish shipwreck: Parks Canada

Percé, a small village near the tip of the Gaspé Peninsula in Quebec. The Canadian Press / Denis Beaumont

Parks Canada has confirmed that human remains found in Quebec’s Gaspé region in 2011 and 2016 are those of Irish immigrants fleeing the potato famine who died in an 1847 shipwreck.

The federal department says the bones from 21 skeletons discovered on the beach in Cap-des-Rosiers in recent years belong to victims from the Carricks of Whitehaven, an Irish ship that sank during a storm off the Gaspé coast while on its way to Quebec City over 170 years ago.

READ MORE: Diver explores shipwreck in Ontario lake despite sub-zero temperatures

An analysis by scientists at the Université de Montréal showed the deceased had followed a diet typical of Irish rural people, and many had suffered from diseases and malnutrition that were most likely caused by the famine.

Filmmaker Viveka Melki, who made a documentary about the shipwreck, says the discovery confirms what local residents have long known to be true.

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As part of her research, Melki spoke to descendents of the shipwreck’s survivors and discovered an obituary for a priest that tells the story of a mass grave dug on the beach and a shore strewn with bodies.

She says she hopes the residents find closure with the announcement and an upcoming ceremony to bury the bones near the Irish memorial on Cap-des-Rosiers Beach this summer.

WATCH: Free divers explore underwater shipwreck in Tobermory, Ont

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Free divers explore underwater shipwreck in Tobermory,Ont


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