Which city in Canada has the biggest Irish influence?

According to the national census, there are almost five million Canadians of Irish descent. But have you ever wondered which city in Canada has the biggest Irish influence?

According to the national census, there are almost five million Canadians of Irish descent; that’s an incredible 15% of the country’s entire population. But there are some places in Canada where the influence from the Emerald Isle is particularly strong. 

4. Newfoundland and Labrador – 22% Irish

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Interesting tidbit: Newfoundland is unique in that it’s the only location outside of Europe that boasts an Irish version of its name. Talamh an Éisc, which means ‘Land of the Fish’, was the name given to the island by Irish fishermen back in the 18th-century. 

22% of people in this region have direct Irish ancestry, but Newfoundland and Labrador wasn’t just a place where Irish settlers landed and began to call home; it also looks like Ireland.

The scenery is almost identical, with the familiar rugged coastline, the beautiful imposing cliffs, and the lush greenery that typifies the Irish countryside.

Another incredibly similar aspect is the language. The local dialects date back over four hundred years, and many have direct influences from the Irish. The accents of most dialects also have a distinctly Irish flavour, unique to this part of the world.   

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A special Newfoundland mention goes to Fogo Island, part of the city in Canada with some of the biggest Irish influence.

Fogo Island is technically in Canada, but if you were to shipwreck on this island, situated off the northeast coast of Newfoundland, your first instinct would be to guess that you’ve landed in Ireland

The first clue? One local welcome sign says, ‘Welcome to Tilting’ in Irish. Furthermore, shamrocks are littered on buildings everywhere, and cafés and pubs abound. The most surprising thing of all, however, is that many residents have proper Irish accents. 

The original settlements were pretty much 100% Irish, with many settling in the 18th-century. For example, the isolated location of Tilting, which only welcomed roads in the 20th-century, has ensured that the Irish accent has flourished.

Not only that, it may even be more Irish than what you’d find in the home country, as it’s had very little ‘outside’ influence.

3. Quebec – a controversial entry

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Okay, how can Quebec, a French-speaking region, be anything but not Irish? Well, even though many Irish immigrants preferred other parts of the country, many did settle here.

There’s an (admittedly unverifiable) claim that over 40% of Québécois can trace at least a great-grandparent to Ireland. 

Old Quebec also boasts an incredible number of Irish pubs, and we’re talking the original kind.

The province also boasts the Casino De Montreal, the largest casino in Canada – and we know just how much the Irish like to have a flutter.

With land casinos currently closed, there has been a boom in online casinos in Canada, so people can still enjoy playing slots, poker, roulette, or blackjack, even while the brick-and-mortar casinos are shuttered.  

And for those mornings after the night before, there are plenty of wee Irish establishments that serve traditional Irish soda bread! 

2. Toronto – a cosmopolitan centre

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Toronto is definitely a city in Canada that boasts some of the biggest Irish influence.

Perhaps the most cosmopolitan city in the country, Toronto has been home to people of Irish descent since the 1840s, when the Great Famine forced many people to leave Ireland for a better future. 

The city retains an active role in keeping Irish culture alive, with the Irish Association of Toronto running frequent events, including traditional music lessons, dancing classes, as well as Irish language programs. 

Perhaps the most Irish thing Toronto has to offer is Gaelic games.

The Toronto GAA is more than just sports, however, with a close community spirit defining the clubs in the area. With traditional names such as St. Vincent’s, St. Patrick’s, and the Toronto Gaels, we’re sure you’ll find a club that fits your Irish spirit.

1. Saint John, New Brunswick – ‘Canada’s Most Irish City’

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Any list featuring Irish places in Canada simply cannot ignore ‘The Loyalist City’ of Saint John, New Brunswick.

Billing itself as ‘Canada’s Most Irish City’, the place has a legitimate Irish presence both in its history and modern fabric making it the city in Canada with the biggest Irish influence. 

The city was built by the Irish, with evidence of the original settlement being pre-Loyalist. The first governor of the province, Thomas Carleton, was also of Irish descent himself.

The province was so Irish, so to speak, that William Knox pushed for it to be given the name of ‘New Ireland’. 

The city today still has a very Irish flavour, and the residents are proud of their heritage. For example, to commemorate the suffering of the Irish Famine, volunteers all over the city organized events and other activities to highlight the region’s history. 

Canada is still welcoming the Irish today – many still choose to make Canada their home

Which city in Canada has the biggest Irish influence?
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We’ve mainly focused on places where the Irish influence is embedded due to the huge influx of Irish immigrants in the 18th-and 19th-centuries. However, Canada remains a popular destination for Irish citizens today. 

Last year, over ten thousand Irish people were welcomed to the country under the International Experience Canada scheme, and almost two thousand Irish citizens became permanent residents in the country.

In short, the relationship between Canada and the Land of Saints and Scholars remains close to this day, with the Irish influence felt not only in the country’s traditions but also through the modern-day citizens making Canada their new home today. 

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