The History of Montreal’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade
Montreal‘s St. Patrick’s Day parade has been held since 1824. The parade is named after St. Patrick, patron saint of Ireland, whose feast day falls on March 17. Born in the late 4th century in Roman Britain, Patrick showed little interest in Christianity until he was kidnapped and spent six years in Ireland as a slave. After his escape, he felt the call to share the Gospel with his former oppressors. According to legend, he preached throughout Ireland for 40 years, drove out all the snakes and regularly used the shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity.
The history of the St. Patrick’s Day parade reflects the history of Irish community organizations in Quebec. Ten years after the parade began in 1824, Montreal’s Irish founded the St. Patrick’s Society. Officially non-sectarian but at first mainly Protestant, the Society became increasingly Catholic as more Irish Catholics immigrated to the city. In 1856, Protestant members left and formed the Irish Protestant Benevolent Society. For more than a century the parade was a procession of Montreal’s Irish Catholic parishes – until 1957, when the IPBS president served as Grand Marshal. Parade organizers have also included the Ancient Order of Hibernians, and the United Irish Societies, created in 1928.
The 2012 parade will be held Sunday March 18th at noon. The Parade route begins at rue du Fort and Sainte Catherine, continues along Sainte Catherine to Phillips Square. Montreal