We did a short walk in the midday sun along Exile Bay to Prince Edward Park and then drove around to Bayview Park at the head of Canada Bay. It was here that we finally located the monument.
It had previously been at Cabarita Park where on 18 May 1970, the Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau unveiled the plaque to mark the 130th Anniversary of the landing of the Canadian exiles in Sydney.
Following the reclamation of Bayview Park, Concord Council moved the monument there in February 1984. This is closer to the historical roots of the story of the exiles.
Arriving in Sydney Harbour on 25 February 1840 on the Buffalo, the fifty-eight convicts were transported to the Longbottom Stockade on the site of the present day Concord Oval. Bayview Park is the actual landing spot from where they would have disembarked en route to the Stockade along Wharf Road (Burwood Road).
Circumstances saw these prisoners treated somewhat more humanely than most other convicts. They were industrious and hard working and were generally accepted by the early colonists. Archbishop John Bede Polding lobbied the Administration on their behalf.
In 1841, Governor Gipps gave permission for the convicts to be granted Tickets of Leave and by 1842 many had found employment. Finally between November 1843 and February 1844 free pardons were awarded to all. All eventually returned to Canada except for two who died and one, Joseph Marceau who married a nineteen-year-old Englishwoman and settled in Dapto on the South Coast of NSW.
Although this story is not popularly known, the convicts of the Buffalo have been well researched.
History Services NSW holds records on all the fifty-eight convicts, in a handy summary format giving dates and details in particular of their Tickets of Leave and Absolute Pardons
If you would like to research any of this information go to:
The story of the Canadian exiles in the Concord area has been commemorated in the naming of the inlets of Hen and Chicken Bay viz France Bay, Exile Bay and Canada Bay. These areas have been much transformed in recent years with new residential developments.
Our excursion today has been very interesting, greatly enhancing both our historical and geographical knowledge of the Parramatta River.