Tag Archives: small pox

Everybody Hurts – Sometimes — Linda Knight Seccaspina

Everybody Hurts – Sometimes — Linda Knight Seccaspina

Everybody Hurts – Sometimes Linda Knight Seccaspina– Sherbrooke Record Column

I don’t know if any lollipop in the world could have made me smile after lining up at the town hall, or was it the fire station, on the Main Street in Cowansville in the 50s. There we were– 100s of kids in line for a polio shot with doctors and nurses pushing those ugly needles down in our arms. Loud cries pursued like clockwork, and children were led out with a lollipop in their hands mixed with tears. That image has never left my mind, nor the two hours one Friday night at Dr. Roy’s office on South Street with someone trying to pin me down for yet another inoculation.

At my age now I have been picked and prodded all my life and one more is not going to make a difference. But this week I got a COVID booster and there was no treat for me after I had received it. I seem to miss that little act of kindness after something significant in my life. You go through hours of labour and at the end there is your baby, or you get hit by a car like I did at age 6, and there were stacks of Illustrated Classics Jesus comic books given to me by my Grandfather Crittenden.

So what happened and when?

Enduring a bout of strep throat at the age of 17 my Grandmother asked me what I wanted to eat as a special treat. I told her there was nothing I would enjoy more than KRAFT spaghetti. It had to be KRAFT, nothing else. After hours of dreaming about boxed spaghetti she turned up with a bowl of vegetable soup. Is that where it turned all wrong? Or was it just Mary Knight’s way of saying– everyone that hasn’t felt well should have vegetable soup, bread and butter and a piece of cheese for their first meal. 
All I know is that when I got that COVID booster this week, there was no lollipop, no stickers, just a full shot because I am 70. I could have really used a treat when I had the aftershocks afterwards: you know: “the fever, headache, fatigue and pain at the injection site”. For 24

hours I could not move, and in my mind an ear worm song of “It’s a Small World“ was playing in my head. It’s still playing actually.

My husband Steve understands ‘treats’ and even though I was dead to the world he asked me what I felt like eating. I said,

 “I would like a McDonalds Chicken Burger please”. 

He looked at me in the way Mary Knight used to look at me and said,

 “Are you sure you wouldn’t like a bowl of soup?” 

I gave him ‘the look’ which he understood immediately. I don’t know how husbands figure things like that out but there was no other conversation after that. But Steve doesn’t treat me like regular glue anyways, I’m always glitter glue to him.

As I began to eat that chicken burger I realized that was not what my body wanted, and could barely take a few bites. But that was my treat for all this and why didn’t my mind or body want the treat. It was obvious that my body was still in distress and Mary Knight’s remedy of a bowl of soup, bread and cheese would have been better. I went back to bed and never thought about it again.

At 2 am I woke up and my hair was soaked just like I had gone swimming. Obviously the fever had broken and my body was going back to normal. I smiled. Now where was that treat? Yes, I thought, I needed that treat even if it was now cold. I ventured downstairs quietly and looked in the fridge. Nothing there. Then I looked at the garbage pail. Sitting on top was the McDonald’s bag and there inside the box was my chicken burger. Some of you are saying,

“Oh no she didn’t”

I am telling you right now, “oh yes she did!”

Pulling a George Costanza from Seinfeld, I took out what was left in that container and I ate it all. You have heard the saying, “Beginning today, treat everyone you meet as if they were going to be dead by midnight”. It was after midnight, and I was going to have that treat still with the ear worm of It’s a Small World playing through my head.

A Concert at the Town Hall While Small Pox Raged on…. 1901

A Concert at the Town Hall While Small Pox Raged on…. 1901

Feb 22, 1901

Mr. Conklin elocutionist and Impersonator assisted by local talent and also by Mr. Hinchcliffe of Carleton Place gave an entertainment In the town hall last evening under the auspices of the Methodist Church. The entertainment received fair patronage, although the widespread sickness and fear of small pox in town at present surely contributed to the low attendance.

David Garrick undoubtedly was his best effort, an opportunity being given him to display his versatility of talent. His rapid change of face, form and manner, and particularly his adaptability to the varied character which be portrayed. were particularly entertaining. His other selections were more humourous and appeared to be pleasing to a large portion of the audience. Mr. Hinchcliffe rendered some vocal numbers with good effect.

Miss Sanderson contributed some calisthenic exercises for which she was warmly applauded. The entertainment taken altogether, was excellent although its promoters will not be much in pocket by their venture.

The church at 299 Bridge Street was a frame structure at its early beginnings, large enough to seat 250 persons. It was more than likely sold to the Baptists by the Wesleyan Methodists when they decided to move in 1888. According to some historical writings in newspaper archives the chapel was used as a grammar school in the early days as well as a church. In 1871, the wooden church was moved (*would love to know where it was moved to) and the present brick church on Bridge Street was built by Wesleyan Methodists, not the Baptists. When the Methodist’s congregation became larger they built and moved to a new church at the corner of Beckwith and Albert Streets. (Zion-Memorial United Church)

Small Pox Epidemic — Asks Council to Reimburse Burned Clothes

The Smallpox Scare of 1926

The Smallpox Scare of 1926



In May of 1900 Smallpox broke out in Carleton Place and Almonte. Almonte advised against any travel to Carleton Place. But in 1926 smallpox broke out and there was nothing in the local papers, and the town of Almonte denied it in the city newspapers.

In 1918 the world faced a pandemic. Within months Spanish Flu had killed more people than any other illness in recorded history. It struck fast and was indiscriminate.



November 15, 1926


SMALLPOX IN ONTARIO Almonte, Ont., Nov. 16 1926 Dr. A. A. Metcalfe, mayor of Almonte, stated to-day that the smallpox situation in the town had steadily Improved. The epidemic was now on the wane. –

SMALLPOX IN ALMONTE  November 13, 1926 –-Churches and Schools Closed and Meetings; Cancelled Almonte, Out., November 12. As the result of an epidemic of smallpox in this town, which started during the summer mouths, and reached its maximum this week churches and schools here have been closed, while all public gatherings and social events in the town have been cancelled. According to Mayor (Dr.) A. A. Metcalfe, every precaution has been taken to prevent the spread of the disease, and everyone believes that the epidemic is now under control. So far no deaths have resulted, although at the present time there are about thirty cases of smallpox in Almonte. In the township of Ramsay, in which Almonte is situated, there are also three isolated cases.


December 20,1926— This smallpox rumour possibly gained strength from a smallpox scare which spread in the camp on December 14.  A man from Almonte, where a small pox epidemic had been prevalent for some time, obtained work at the Templeton plant (Hull ). He remained there until December 10, and then returned to Almonte, and it was learned that four day later he was taken down with smallpox.
Immediate step were taken at the camp to protect the men: the roommates of the man were placed under quarantine, and police still are maintaining; a strict Quarantine over them. They have shown no signs of the disease, and and there was no outbreak at the camp.
It seems a disgrace for an enlightened people to continue to be harassed with small epidemics and endemics of small pox each year when we could forever banish it from our midst if every one would be vaccinated.







The Ottawa Journal
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
13 Nov 1926, Sat  •  Page 1

 - The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
16 Nov 1926, Tue  •  Page 15






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

Dark Moments in Ottawa History- Porter Island

Dark Moments in Ottawa History- Porter Island

images (8).jpegPublic Archives- MIKAN 3318778 —Smallpox tents on Porter Island, circa 1895-1911. William James Topley Small Pox Shack served as the hospital

There was a time was when the Ottawa’s facilities for cases of smallpox were poorly inadequate, and when the only ‘pest house” was a decrepit, rat-ridden shack unfit for human habitation. The outbreak of smallpox was a very real menace and those inflicted slept three to a bed inside, and outside, 10 patients shared one tent on Porter Island.

April 25, 1894

In February of 1911 a Water Street mother spoke to the Ottawa media and said she was not going to send any child of hers “to that Isolation Hospital” which was situated on Porter’s Island on the Rideau River just south of Edinburgh Park. The distraught woman said she had read in the newspapers about the inhabitable conditions, and even if some city councillors defended it, no child of hers was going there.

March 27, 1911.

Dr. R. H. Parent, chairman of the Board of Health, in his capacity as family physician, had talked to the woman at her home that morning. He had informed her that the child, who was inflicted with small pox, should be placed immediately in the Isolation Hospital despite her concerns. City officials when questioned by the local newspapers insisted that conditions were good, and none that would warrant calling any special meetings. The child was later taken by force out of her mother’s arms to Porter Island by the police.

Nov. 9 1911

Charles Hopewell changed all that when he became Mayor of Ottawa, and smallpox was said to be no longer a danger because of the new Isolation Hospital. The city was now prepared for a smallpox outbreak he said. Hopewell Hospital officially opened its doors in February, 1913 to help stop epidemic disease, and public health policies were now changing in Canada.


 2 nurses standing with the Isolation Hospital ambulance, with driver in front seat.
[ca. 1926] Ottawa City Archives

In 1927 Mayor John Paul Balharrie (1925–1927) for whatever reasons attached an addition to the Isolation Hospital for diphtheria, scarlet fever, and measles. It was reported by media that “cheapness” was the chief reason. Time was when the Isolation Hospital was run in a rather scandalous manner; but even with the changes local parents still hid their contagious children in their homes rather than be forced to send their children to the dreaded Porter Island.

 - CUTHBKHT At lha Isolation Hospital. Ottawa. On...

April 27, 1914

Today, Porter’s Island is home to the Rockcliffe Retirement Residence and the Garry J. Armstrong Home. The island is accessible today only by a bridge from St. Patrick Street, that replaced the metal truss bridge constructed in 1894 by the Dominion Bridge Company. The original bridge is now blocked off at either end and unused, even by pedestrian traffic, and is the only remains of what once was Ottawa’s darker moments.

Image result for porter island

Photo-Historic Bridges

MIKAN 3318768 Smallpox tents on Porter's Island. n.d. [72 KB, 760 X 619]

Public Archives MIKAN 331876

 - Little Boys Break Through Thin Ice Third...

November 21, 1936


Thanks to Tammy Marion for colouring this.. 

The Ottawa Journal
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
18 Dec 1901, Wed  •  Page 4
The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
11 Aug 1910, Thu  •  Page 6


Think the Smallpox issue on Outlander was far fetched?

Smallpox in Carleton Place — Did You Know?

The Great White Plague

1910 Buffam Postcard Collection

Think the Smallpox issue on Outlander was far fetched?


Claire, never one to mind her own business when there’s sickness afoot – especially when that sickness is smallpox and she’s the only person in the entire world who can’t catch it – makes a dangerous enemy of the Comte. After she diagnoses one of the Comte’s ships as being infected with the fatal disease, and refuses to keep the news quiet (to do so would cause smallpox to spread throughout the city), the ship and its cargo are burned to the ground, thus costing the Comte a significant amount of money in losses. Outlander-Wall Street JournalOutlander-


the passage of time by drawing pictures of memorable events on calendars called winter counts. This picture, titled “Small Pox Winter,” is for 1837–1838 …


The 1837 smallpox epidemic spanned 1836 through 1840, but reached its height after the spring of 1837 when an American Fur Company steamboat, the S.S. St. Peter, carried infected people and supplies into the Missouri Valley. More than 15,000 Native Americans died along the Missouri River alone, with some tribes becoming nearly extinct.

Early settlers were not spared from infectious diseases. In 1832, an estimated 20,000 lives were lost in Upper and Lower Canada from a cholera epidemic. In an attempt to contain the disease, the Lower Canada Board of Health created a quarantine station for new arrivals on Grosse Île in the St. Lawrence River. Quarantine measures were enforced by the military to prevent the spread of the disease through Upper and Lower Canada.

Perth Courier–1899 Michael Cavanaugh of Smith’s Falls told the Smith’s Falls News a few days ago of a case of smallpox at Oliver’s Ferry in 1837.  In that year an Irish woman with two daughters aged 12 and 13 were put off at the ferry from a steam boat.

 Margaret, one of the daughters, had smallpox and the mother, on landing , went to the hotel there kept by Mrs. Campbell, a widow, and told her of her troubles and that here daughter was in the barn. The hotel lady gave the Irish woman a tick and told her to go to the barn and fill it with straw and that she could have the warehouse to herself.

There was no doctor in the neighborhood but the good landlady supplied the family with food and for five weeks the store house was their only shelter.  By that time the sick girl was taken to the hotel and soon recovered and no one seemed to be afraid of her.  No other cases developed and soon after the Irish woman and her two daughters moved to Farmersville,  which is now Athens.


Related reading-

Smallpox in Carleton Place — Did You Know?

The Great White Plague

Smallpox in Carleton Place — Did You Know?



Did you know that Carleton Place had an isolation hospital located at the extreme end of Bridge Street? There were 4,548 cases and 36 deaths attributed to smallpox across Canada between 1929 and 1933; 291 cases and 14 deaths over the next five-year period; and 247 cases and 1 death between 1939 and 1943.


On 6 April 1911, The Globe and Mail informed their readership that the Bedford Apartments in Ottawa, which roomed about 40 individuals, were under quarantine for the second time in a week, as there was a new case of smallpox in the building, bringing the total of infected individuals to 27. Despite assurances in the paper the previous day that Dr. Bell would remain in Ottawa “as long as is necessary to see that proper measures are taken to prevent the spread of the disease,” the paper reported that there was also an outbreak of the disease in nearby Carleton Place with approximately 20 cases.

During one particular small pox scare practically every person in Carleton Place wore a bag containing a bag containing a piece of camphor to kill the germs.




These masks were worn by plague doctors in centuries past. The doctors administered little in the way of real medicine, and wore full-body leather cowls, paired with eerie bird masks that were filled with aromatic herbs. The plague doctor’s costume was the clothing worn by a plague doctor to protect him from airborne diseases. The costume originated in the 17th century consisted of an ankle length overcoat and a bird-like beak mask often filled with sweet or strong smelling substances (commonly lavender), along with gloves, boots, a brim hat, and an outer over-clothing garment.



Clipped from The Ottawa Journal, 19 Sep 1936, Sat, Page 3


Historical Facts

The Russell House hotel was the most high-profile hotel in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada for many decades. It was located at the corner of Sparks Street and Elgin Street, where Confederation Square is located today. The original building was built in the 1840s. Additions were made in the 1870s and the original building replaced in 1880.

In 1901 there was a smallpox outbreak in Ottawa. Complaints were made on a daily basis to the Ottawa Journal of anyone that a local citizen deemed should be quarantined. Names and addresses were published in the newspaper, no matter the age of those who were inflicted. Vaccines were available at the Ottawa City Hall and doctors were kept busy.

In 1912, the Château Laurier succeeded the Russell as Ottawa’s premier hotel. Money was spent on renovations in the 1920s, but the hotel had declined due to age and its closure was announced on September 1, 1925. Some of the reasons listed were the high cost of heating the structure, and the higher number of staff to operate the hotel, compared to a newer facility.The Russell House closed permanently on October 1, 1925. Ground-level shops remained open, but the hotel was emptied.

On April 14, 1928, a fire broke out in the hotel, and the hotel was mostly destroyed. The remains of the structure were demolished by November. The Government of Canada had been in the process of buying the property when the fire occurred, and the government used the land to expand Elgin Street to create Confederation Square. Various artifacts of the hotel are on display at the Bytown Museum