The next meeting of the Irish Research Group will be on Tuesday October 22, 2019 at 7:30 p.m. in the Craft Room at the McNabb Community Centre, 180 Percy Street, Ottawa. Everyone is welcome to attend.
Our speaker will be Michael McBane. His presentation is entitled “John Egan’s Anti-sectarian Politics in the Ottawa Valley (1848-1857)”.
John Egan (1811-1857) was a poor Irish emigrant who started out as a clerk in a shanty depot and became the leading square-timber producer on the Ottawa River in the 1850’s. He also was the first mayor of Aylmer, Quebec (1847-1855) and served ten years as a member of the Parliament of the Province of Canada.
As the elected representative of Ottawa County for two terms and one term for the newly formed constituency of Pontiac, Egan worked tirelessly to encourage government support for public infrastructure in what was called ‘the Ottawa country’. With his death at 47 of cholera, the region lost a significant advocate, particularly for economic development. Egan also played an important role in advocating for Ottawa as the permanent capital city.
In an era when all Canadian politics were sectarian, his political legacy is as a bridge builder between the two solitudes of Irish Canadians – the Orange Protestants and Green Catholics. He had seen the suffering and injustice of sectarianism in Ireland and worked hard to eradicate it from politics and social life in his adopted home. John Egan made an important contribution to the emergence of liberal democracy in Canada.
Michael McBane was born in Quyon, Quebec and grew up in Aylmer and Gatineau.
He graduated from Carleton University and St. Paul University and worked in social justice coalitions.
He is currently President of the Friends of Chats Falls and a board member of the Pontiac Historical Society.