Small Pox Epidemic — Asks Council to Reimburse Burned Clothes


This sketch, entitled “Incident of the Smallpox Epidemic, Montreal” by Robert Harris, shows the violence with which the sanitary police removed smallpox patients from the public (courtesy New York Public Library).

December 1900 Ottawa Citizen

At the last meeting for the year 1900 the Carleton Place town council, Mr. McCue appeared in support of the claim made by Mrs. Lynch for reasonable compensation for the household goods that were taken from her premise by the health authorities last summer and destroyed, by fire, as a precautionary measure against the further spread of smallpox.

Roughly, the amount asked is about forty-five dollars. Councillor Edwards strongly opposed the claim, and no action was taken. Mr. Edwards said: “I would not give her a cent, not a nickel.” Mrs. Lynch said that Dr. Bryans, the medical health officer of the town, under whose direction her goods were destroyed insisted quite clearly that she would be paid for them.

Mr. Edwards said that the Town Clerk Peden assured him that Mrs. the Lynch wanted some things burned that he did not consider necessary to destroy. So there you are. To judge by the general expression of public conversation it would not seem that any reimbursement should made to Mrs. Lynch. However Mr. McCue pointed out that she was not to blame for the smallpox infection that was established In her house by the action, or possibly inaction of the authorities. The circumstances were quite exceptional to the fact that there was an emergency and her goods were destroyed for the general public’s benefit. The claim is said to be reasonably based and the consensus of opinion is that if the council enquired into the details of loss and paid Mrs. Lynch there would be no voice of dissent.

During the early 1900 smallpox epidemic here consisted raids on various homes suspected of having smallpox. Inspectors would going room to room looking for children with smallpox. And when they found them, they were literally tearing babes from their mothers’ arms to take them to the various pesthouses ( like Almonte or the Bridge Street pesthouse in Carleton Place)which housed smallpox victims.

Smallpox didn’t always directly cause death–but you could die from the fever that it caused, or bacterial infection because you had all these open skin lesions on your body. Some argue, however, that smallpox did not spread so easily and had to be acquired through intimate contact. Infected individuals were quarantined and belongings were either burned or cleaned until vaccinations became available.

The Smallpox Scare of 1926

Think the Smallpox issue on Outlander was far fetched?

Smallpox in Carleton Place — Did You Know?

The Great White Plague

Union Almonte & Ramsay Contagious Hospital (Pest House) — Looking for Information

Married on Porch of Pest House

Dark Moments in Ottawa History- Porter Island

Small Pox in Almonte

The 1885 Montreal Smallpox Epidemic

About lindaseccaspina

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s