The Grosse Ile is located in St. Lawrence below Quebec City, offshore from Montmagnt, 70 km from Quebec City via 20 East Highway (autoroute). It served as quarantine station for thousands of immigrants for more than a century, from 1832 to 1937.
The station was open in 1832, when a cholera epidemic alerted the authorities to the danger of possible disease which could by imported with newcomers. The creation of this compulsory stopover for all incoming passenger ships helped to stop the spread of the three great scourges of the time, thus cholera, smallpox and typhus. First, all the immigrants had to step into the Washhouse, built in 1885.
They went thorough compulsory disinfection of their bodies, their clothes and their belongings. The building was used until a new operation was set up in 1893. After disinfection, immigrants had to stay either in a hotel, classed according to the level of passage paid for, or in a hospital (lazaret). Lazaret is the oldest remaining building on the island. It's the only one of twelve original hospitals where the sick immigrants were treated.
The Grosse Island had been used as an animal quarantine facility after 1937. Many buildings were torn down during that period. The last remaining hospital was saved because it was used to house chicken. In the late 20th century the island turned into a great memorial park, dedicated both to thousands who died here and to doctors, priests and employees who risked and many times lost their lives. The remaining buildings are renovated and preserved.
Note that in the Cote-du-Sud tourist region, you can follow the Veloroute des Migrations bicycle path, which hugs the shore of the St. Lawrence, as well as visit the attractions of the Montagny-L'Islet area : Isle aux Grues, the Etienne-Pascal tache home, the Accordion Museum and the Maritime Museum of Quebe (a museum devoted to ships on St. Lawrence).