Tag Archives: pandemic

Linda’s Christmas Letter 2020

Linda’s Christmas Letter 2020

1918 December

This letter to Santa was written by Ruby Butler from Perth, Ontario in 1918. Although we are facing a pandemic like they were during that year, we are not facing a war. The armistice of November 11, 1918, brought relief to the whole world and hope to 10-year-old Ruby Butler in Perth. The Spanish flu, however, was a devastating and previously unknown form of influenza, and struck Canada hard between 1918 and 1920. This international pandemic killed approximately 55,000 people in Canada, most of whom were young adults between the ages of 20 and 40. No matter what we are going through, we have all worked together this year, and while we can’t smooth out the surf, we are all learning to ride the waves safely and carefully.

What has not changed is that the children of the world are still writing to Santa amid a world that a lot of them do not understand. Yesterday my daughter in law sent me a photo of my grandchildren and their cousin sitting in front of a window where they could hang out with Santa safely. I looked at Tenley’s eyes and saw the love and belief in her eyes. Santa still exists, and while I am old enough to understand that a man cannot fly around the globe led by reindeer, I still believe in the magic. I love spreading magic because it relives our childhood memories and encourages everyone to have kindness, empathy and generosity in their hearts, especially when we need them most like now.

Like the writer of the 1918 Santa letter who did not want Santa to die I am sure the children of today have had lots of fears that they do not talk about. They probably also silently worry someone they know will contract the disease, but they remain silent. This year I chose not to remain silent. From my kitchen island I decided to spread virtually what I thought would take people’s minds off of things, and the pandemic, and make them smile. The child we once were stays with us, and I for one refuse to let it go.

This year especially; I feel there is a lot we can learn from the children we used to be. That little person still exists; you just need to listen to what he or she has to say. It’s important to learn from experience, to change and become a better person. But, what most people seem to think is in order to do so, we must leave our old selves behind– and that is wrong. The easiest thing in the world was having fun as a child because even the littlest things made us happy. They still can.

If there is one thing you ought to try and hold on to for this year and next year– it’s this: Be happy, have fun with the simplest of things, enjoy life, and find hope in even the most dire circumstances — you’ll find the strength to accomplish things others wouldn’t believe possible.

For a day take a step back and revert to olden days when crazy cartoons and bowls of sugary cereal felt like living the dream. Laugh every day, love yourself like children do, be kind, considerate, and compassionate. Each New Year gives us the perfect chance to start something new and fresh. Just make the world a better place for yourself and others. Make someone happy….

Thank you for reading me this year, I appreciate it, and please stay safe!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


Related reading

Linda and Christmas Cards– and the Lack off–This is Your Christmas Letter:) 

Linda and Christmas Cards– and the Lack off–This is Your Christmas Letter:)

Linda and the Lack of a Christmas Card–This is Your Christmas Letter 

Linda and the Lack of a Christmas Card–This is Your Christmas Letter 2018

A Letter to my Grandchildren April 14, 2020 — Linda Knight Seccaspina

A Letter to my Grandchildren April 14, 2020 — Linda Knight Seccaspina


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During the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918-1919, I found many letters written how people felt. I decided to write one for posterity.

To my sweet angels,

The only thing I can remember similar to this at your age was living in “a polio world” in the 1950s. Birthday parties and friends were shunned less the “polio germ” lived within them or their homes. Today, you my Grandchildren are living in a different world, yet it feels like the same world. I wonder if you will remember it like I remember the years of polio. 

Each day your Grandmother wakes up during this pandemic confused as to what day it is, yet somehow, none of this is a dream. Empty silent streets affirm the daily unimaginable reality show that we are all living through.

I don’t think I have felt melancholy until today, and after reading through some Facebook posts I see others are feeling the same way. I have made a great effort to think positive, even though I worry if any traces of COVID-19 have wandered into this house. Some nights I pull the sheet over my head in case the virus mysteriously hangs in the air. What if it suddenly infiltrates me making me feel like someone pulled a corset too tight? What if I never see you again?  I keep forgetting I am one of those that are in the high risk group and I must be careful.

I lay my head down on top of my laptop genuinely tired. Sleep is lacking greatly at night combined with the wildest dreams I have ever had. Last night I was running an auction in some stairwell and all I could see was rows of faces sitting in old wooden Sunday School chairs on each level. Faces were glued to what I was saying– but were they listening? It reminded me of a story your Great Grandmother used to tell me.

In the 1940s a Tetanus vaccination was introduced in Canada and many parents didn’t want to have their children vaccinated. Your Great Grandmother told me that she had heard stories that a child in Dunham, Quebec had gotten the inoculation and “ended up on all fours”. There is no proof regarding that statement of hers – but I know she went down to the High School daily pleading in front of a group of seated teachers and school elders. For a month she begged them to spare her children from being vaccinated, but in the end both your Grandfather Arthur and your great Uncle Fred Jr. were inoculated.

After the inoculation Fred Jr. got sick and died 5 months later. Each day when the doctor would come down those orange stairs from the second floor he would tell  your Great Grandmother that he had no clue how to help her eldest child. In 1941 Frederick Alexander Knight died at the age of 19, and the only memory that was left of him was a photo of him on the wall beside the verandah door. I have no idea what happened to that photo, and the only proof that Fred Jr. was born, lived, and died in Cowansville, Quebec is on the family gravestone that sits in the Emmanuel United Church Cemetery on Main Street in Cowansville.

There were also the occasional bats that used to fly out of hidden corners in the dead of the night in the old house. The discovery that bats caused rabies in the 1950s had increased public fear. The radio and newspapers drove your Great Grandmother to full tilt. The very transient sighting of a bat caused her to scream to keep my head down. Apparently one had gotten caught in her hair once and she didn’t want anyone to catch rabies.

Of course just like now there were conspiracy stories galore and I began to think this was one of hers. In reality, bats are not interested in flying into your hair, but they may fly close to you in search of insects. Remember that if I ever tell you that story.

Great Grammy Knight would spray her floorboards in the 50s trying to keep away any bugs that might form disease in her home. I realize today that was DDT and wonder how that generation and myself lived so long.

A hundred years ago there was something called The Spanish Flu and all your ancestors lived through it. Some survived, and some did not. But unlike your ancestors a vaccine for COVID-19 will hopefully soon be developed. Maybe our social interaction will be delayed for a while and we will have to find other ways to be together without risk.

Please remember that Facebook and Instagram can never replace the human spirit and Facetime is no substitute for being in the same room with family and friends. So all we can do now is take one hour or one day at a time and get through it smiling. Why? Because your ancestors made it through and we will too. As your Great Grandmother Mary Louise Deller Knight used to tell me:

Don’t worry my birdie, just do what you’re told and keep to the rules and you will be fine.”

She is right we will be fine– this too shall pass. I promise.

Love from your Gammy who loves you so much.


Lanark County Santa Letters 1918

The Thomas Alfred Code Journal – Letters-Part 25- Code Family– A Letter from Mother


The Thomas Alfred Code Journal – Letters-Part 24- Code Family– Built for the Love of his Life

The Original Thomas Alfred Code and Andrew Haydon Letters – —Part 1

The Thomas Alfred Code Journal – Letters-Part 2– Perth Mill

The Thomas Alfred Code Journal – Letters-Part 3– Genealogy Ennis

The Thomas Alfred Code Journal – Letters-Part 4a – Innisville the Beginning

The Thomas Alfred Code Journal – Letters-Part 4b – Innisville — Coopers and “Whipping the Cat” 1860-1870

The Thomas Alfred Code Journal – Letters-Part 4c – Innisville — Henry York and Johnny Code

The Thomas Alfred Code Journal – Letters-Part 4d – Innisville — “How We did Hoe it Down”!

The Thomas Alfred Code Journal – Letters-Part 4e – Innisville — ‘Neighbours Furnished one Another with Fire’

The Thomas Alfred Code Journal – Letters-Part 5- Code Family– “Hawthorn Mill was a Failure, and the Same Bad Luck has Followed for at Least 50 Years”

The Thomas Alfred Code Journal – Letters-Part 6- Code Family– “Almost everything of an industry trial character had vanished in Innisville in 1882”

The Thomas Alfred Code Journal – Letters-Part 7- Code Family–“Thank God, no member of my family has disgraced me or the name!

The Thomas Alfred Code Journal – Letters-Part 8- Code Family– “We got a wool sack and put him inside and took him to the bridge”

The Thomas Alfred Code Journal – Letters-Part 9- Code Family –“I had much trouble in saving myself from becoming a first class liar”

The Thomas Alfred Code Journal – Letters-Part 10- Code Family – I conjured to myself: “You will know me later!” And Peter McLaren did.

The Thomas Alfred Code Journal – Letters-Part 11- Code Family –“I continued with bull dog tenacity for 12 years without salary”

The Thomas Alfred Code Journal – Letters-Part 12- Code Family–“Had I the course to go over again I would evade outside responsibilities beyond my share, even if it cost more”

The Thomas Alfred Code Journal – Letters-Part 13- Code Family–S. S. No. 17 Drummond, Innisville

The Thomas Alfred Code Journal – Letters-Part 14- Code Family–Letters from Mother Elizabeth Hicks

The Thomas Alfred Code Journal – Letters-Part 15- Code Family– Love and Runaway Marriages

The Thomas Alfred Code Journal – Letters-Part 16- Code Family-“The fish would shoot back and forth and at time hit their legs causing them to fall”

The Thomas Alfred Code Journal – Letters-Part 17- Code Family–“A reaper with the sickle and danced all night”

The Thomas Alfred Code Journal – Letters-Part 18- Code Family–Family Records from the Family Bible

The Thomas Alfred Code Journal – Letters-Part 19- Code Family–“Michell was never known to have any money, excepting at or after tax sales”

The Thomas Alfred Code Journal – Letters-Part 20- Code Family–“Whither Are We Drifting?”– The Perth Public School

The Thomas Alfred Code Journal – Letters-Part 21- Code Family–Franktown Past and Present Reverend John May

The Thomas Alfred Code Journal – Letters-Part 22- Code Family–Field Day at “The Hill” (McDonald’s Corners)

The Thomas Alfred Code Journal – Letters-Part 23- Code Family–Brother John — John Code Goes West

The Thomas Alfred Code Journal – Letters-Part 24- Code Family– Built for the Love of his Life

When Newspapers Gossiped–David Kerr Innisville

Kerr or Ennis? More about the Innisville Scoundrel

What Went Wrong with the Code Mill Fire in Innisville?


Linda and Christmas Cards– and the Lack off–This is Your Christmas Letter:)

Linda and the Lack of a Christmas Card–This is Your Christmas Letter 2017

Stanley Cup Called Off by the Spanish Flu 1919

Stanley Cup Called Off by the Spanish Flu 1919

 - Vancouver Daily World
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
01 Apr 1919, Tue  •  Page 10


Seems things have not changed..

The 1919 Stanley Cup Finals was the ice hockey play-off series to determine the 1919 Stanley Cup champions. No champion was declared; the series was cancelled after five games had been played due to an outbreak of Spanish flu. It was the only time in the history of the Stanley Cup that it was not awarded due to a no-decision after playoffs were held.  The series was a rematch of the 1917 Stanley Cup Final and the first since the armistice to end World War I.

Hosting the series in Seattle was the Pacific Coast Hockey Association (PCHA) champion Seattle Metropolitans playing off against the National Hockey League (NHL) champion Montreal Canadiens. Both teams had won two games, lost two, and tied one before health officials were forced to cancel the deciding game of the series. Most of the Canadiens players and their manager George Kennedy fell ill with the flu and were hospitalized, leaving only three healthy players. The flu would claim the life of Canadiens defenceman Joe Hall four days later. Kennedy was permanently weakened by his illness, and it led to his death a few years later.


Spanish Influenza in Lanark County from the Perth Courier — Names Names

Hey Even Journalists Can be Sick! Influenza 1918

More Family Names– Death by Influenza

Death by Influenza 1918- Any Names you Recognize?

They Lived and Died in Lanark County

What was Puking Fever? Child Bed Fever?

Think the Smallpox issue on Outlander was far fetched?

Smallpox in Carleton Place — Did You Know?

The Great White Plague

Pandemic Memories Then and Now

Pandemic Memories Then and Now



I have a mark on my upper arm that has never gone away in 65 years. Each time I look at it I remember going to the Cowansville, Quebec town hall and lining up to get vaccinated for Polio. Needles were not the dainty things we have today, and the oversized needle coming at me is something bad dreams are made of.

In those days you were told not to remove the ensuing arm scab or “great harm” would come to you. In fact, even more harm was supposed to come your way if you visited friends or went to birthday parties. Unless you were born before 1955 none of you will remember this reign of terror.

Polio had no cure then, and towns and cities were busy quarantining areas. Nothing seemed to work and some of the people in the Cowansville area did not have the money to care for a family member. In an attempt to control polio the old archaic rules came out: no open drains and have your Dad put those screens on the windows before something unholy came your way.

Posted on signs everywhere was: “Wash your hands, and have a bath every single day”. We were told also to stay away from crowds, and yes, more importantly keep the community public pools shut. Schools were closed and the Princess Theatre closed down on the Main Street. No one ever really found out how polio was spread, but basically if you didn’t clean your hands properly after using the bathroom that was a big one. For years doctors made you feel it was your own fault if you got polio. 

I can’t remember anyone hoarding anything but parents really began insisting about the danger of swimming in pools, or lakes. A study showed that chlorine was actually one of the few known chemicals that could attack the virus. When all the public pools started using an effective level of chlorine, most of the epidemic ended overnight.  If they had only had realized that polio was inactivated by chlorine, as well as by heat and formaldehyde which was the chemical used to inactivate the virus in Jonas Salk’s polio vaccine. Once they found a vaccine that proved to be effective against it, polio basically went away. 

Now COVID-19 is suddenly a real threat and we are going through almost the same panic scenario as we did with Polio and other infectious diseases of the past. Instead of staying out of pools, we are essentially hoarding masks, hand sanitizers among other things and toilet paper shelves have been emptied across the world. 

I have no doubt that come sort of  vaccine will be developed in the near future and unlike the first polio victims WHO has said a vast majority of coronavirus patients will recover. I know as a child I was petrified watching the news or listening to my parents talk about polio. But we need not to panic and to remember that your grandparents and great grandparents were called to war —– now we are asked to sit on our couch. We can do this.



Doug McCarten–I do indeed remember! Although the polio vaccination came too late for me as I had it at 2 years old! Apparently I was within 24 hrs of paralysis…..when I was getting better, I have a vivid memory of visiting the patients who were in Iron Lungs and talking to them in the mirror attached above their head! The room was lit only by the afternoon sun but with the curtains pulled so the light that did enter was muted….




Fear and Loathing of the School Inoculations

The Peculiar Case of Jeanetta Lena McHardy

Remember Polio?

A Tale of Two Women

For the Love of Laura Secord — The Rest of the Story

What Do You Do if You Just Can’t Walk Right In?