The will in the heart of man to do and dare is not dead nor does life get tedious, not around Appleton anyway, ’tis said. Mr. Howard Fumerton of the 11th line of Beckwith, bought a building from Mr. Elmsley of the 11th line of Ramsay and expressed a desire to move the buiding intact. So with men arid tractors, the procession started. Old Timer ‘Bete’ was noticed standing by sadly shaking his head and murmuring “It can’t be done.”
But through fields, highways and byways the moving proceeded slowly until one afternoon something happened one of the skids and the building settled down in a creek for the night. Mr. Art Fumerton came to the rescue and eventually the building was in Mr. Fumerton’s yard and he firmly believes in the Spirit of Christmas and the old saying “It can’t be done” has changed to “who says it can’t.”
This letter to Santa was written by Ruby Butler from Perth, Ontario in 1918.
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. As old Mr. Fumerton said in Almonte,” “It can’t be done” has changed to “who says it can’t.”
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….
As old Mr. Fumerton said in Almonte,” “It can’t be done” has changed to “who says it can’t.”
Temley age 6, Linda me, Elia age 3, Sophia age 7 and Baby R (another girl) coming any day now!!
Perth and District having its share of general epidemicAn epidemic of Spanish influenza is running its course in Perth this week. Friday it commenced in earnest and at present there are people in all parts of the town ill with the malady. While a number have been remaining in bed with heavy colds and are taking due precautions, the majority of people and they number upwards of three hundred, either have a severe attack of old-fashioned grippe or the influenza. The danger with the influenza is the development of pneumonia, but there are few, if any, pneumonia developments so far, but two deaths occurred this week from those who contracted pneumonia following influenza. Local doctors have but few minutes rest. It means practically going day and night.The Board of Health met Friday evening. The four members were present – Dr. Dwyre, Medial Officers of Health, Mayor Hands, and Messrs. C. F. Stone and J. A. Kerr. A report on the prevalence of influenza was given by Dr. Dwyre and the Board ordered that the schools and places of amusement in town be closed until further notice, and the churches be requested to close.
Saturday morning the Board issued the following communication: At a meeting of the Local Board of Health for the Town of Perth, held Oct. 11th, it was decided upon hearing the Report of the Medical Health Officer for the Municipality regarding the prevalence of influenza in the Town, that until further notice:
1. ALL the Schools should be closed.
2. ALL Theatres and Places of Public Amusement should be closed.
3. THE Churches should be requested to discontinue the holding of religious services in the town.
4. ALL public entertainments should be prohibited.
5.AND the Secretary should notify the responsible parties in connection with the above institutions and Places of Entertainment in order that they may govern themselves accordingly.
I have the honor to be Sir, Your obedient servant, JOHN A. KERR, Secretary Local Board of Health.Knox, St. Andrew’s, Asbury and the Baptist church complied with the request and no services were held Sunday, nor Sunday School. And mid-week meetings have not been held and will not be until after the epidemic subsides. St. James Church held 8 o’clock celebration of Holy Communion and the regular morning. St. Johns church just a short service was held in the morning.
The schools have all remained closed this week and the Balderson theatre closed Friday evening and will remain closed until new orders are issued. On Tuesday the Board of Health decided to prepare the Haggart home to accommodate a number of cases and the local branch of the St. John Ambulance Brigade is attending to the nursing requirements of several patients who have been taken there. Miss Elsie Walker of town is in charge. An appeal is made for supplies for the home.
And Perth is not alone seized with the influenza. Throughout the townships there is much sickness and a number of schools have been closed while those open have few pupils in attendance. Lanark, Carleton Place, Almonte and Smiths Falls are all in the throes of the epidemic.
At Lanark in each house where a case has developed the others of the family have been asked to remain at the house and not mingle with other people. Food and all requirements are supplied them by the policeman. This is an effective means of quelling the spread of the epidemic and might be adopted with profit by other places.In Perth three business places are closed this week on account of employers and emplyees being ill and the factories are all running short handed.
Linda KingI remember my mother just had her 6th child and I looked after my other siblings when she came home from hospital and then I came down with the flu and was very sick but I survived!!
Thanks to Jim Houston for this clipping from The Carleton Place Newspaper from March 8th 1951.
Although the flu epidemic which has swept Carleton Place as well as many other communities this year has not been characterised by fatal results due to modern science, the terrible days of 1919 have been brought to the minds of many who lost relatives and friends.
The following is a clipping published in Carleton Place newspapers during the week of February 2, 1919.
A Double Funeral
A sad pitiful spectacle rare anywhere in Canada, rarer still in Carleton Place was that of two hearses passing along Bridge Street on Monday afternoon. One contained the body of Mr. Bert. Trotman and the other that of his sister Pearl– she had died at 6 o’clock on Sunday evening, the other at 7; the daughter at her fathers and the son at his own home. Each had contracted the influenza. ( Spanish Flu)
Bert, apparently had an iron frame and it was thought he might be a conqueror. He was 28 and his sister, 23. Bert was a moulder at Findlay Bros. and the Findlay workers rallied and formed a long cortege of great length behind the hearse.
Their father, Mr. Harry Trotman is very ill. One boy, Fred was killed in an accident at the front. It will thus be seen that this family has had afflictions to a degree of suffering and sacrifice seldom recorded. Bert leaves a widow, so low as to be kept to be kept from the knowledge of her husband’s death, and two small children. Mrs. Trotman, sr., is a daughter of Mr. James Rowledge, Lake Ave.
We deeply regret to announce during Tuesday night, Mr. Harry Trotman passed away. His death is the third in the family in three days and there will be more deaths in Carleton Place. Mr. Trotman was born in England and came with his parents to Carleton Place in 1884. He was 53 years of age. One brother Richard lives in Smiths Falls. The funeral takes place this afternoon to Maplewood cemetery.
This morning Mrs. Bert Trotman and her daughter passed away making 5 deaths in the family since Sunday evening. Since this story was published it has been learned that only the 3 youngest members of the family of 7 are living. They are” Wilfred, who resides on Bridge Street and is a retired moulder at Findlays, Ernest, residing on William Street, a moulder, and Austin who purchased a farm in Franktown in 1946.
Mrs. Lloyd Moore, oldest daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Bert Trotman,victims of the flu, made her home with her grandmother until her marriage and now lives at Monkland, Ontario, where her husband is a cheesemaker.
February 16, 1951
FLU EPIDEMIC IN CANADA AIR FORCE BASE CLOSED MONTREAL, Feb. 14. (A.A.P.)Canada’s influenza epidemic, which has stricken 120,000 people and caused more than 100 deaths, struck hard in Ontario to-day. The new outbreak forced officials to close the Royal Canadian Air Force base at Aylmer, Quebec where over 30,000 children are away from school, was still the hardest hit area.
I am wondering if you have any information on the Almonte Pest House? My dad referred to it as a place where incurable folks went to. Usually drawn there by sleighs. I gather it was somewhere near where Ann Street is today. I wish I had asked dad more about this while he was living. I think the pest house was also called the Union Almonte & Ramsay Contagious Hospital. My dad, Keith Camelon was born in Almonte in 1924 and he knew so much about Almonte but I was just too busy to take the time to listen.
Thank you. Marion McDonald
Marion, I understand and I feel the same way you do. That is why I document as much as possible. I would like to add to this. If anyone has pictures or comments please add them.
The Union Almonte and Ramsay Contagious Hospital — Almonte ( Mississippi Mills)
So for a long long time I have been looking for information about this hospital and all Jeff Mills could tell me was: “Pest” was for Petulance and was a place where people who had the Spanish Flu went to die. Supposedly the house was out on Country Street between Country and the highway and it was also called the fever hospital that looked after those suffering from contagious diseases. According to some reports, it was a frame building located between King Street and Highway 29.
Last week while doing some research on the Rosamond Hospital I came upon a lot of information on the Mississippi Mills site. First of all the correct name was the Union Almonte and Ramsay Contagious Hospital and in 2017 Council approved that the Union Almonte and Ramsay Contagious Hospital be included on the heritage registry. In going through some reference pages a lot of links I clicked on had ‘Error 404” so I decided this should be documented sooner than later.
In 1901, smallpox was spreading in large numbers across Ontario. In the 19th century, smallpox was widely considered a disease of filth, which meant that it was largely understood to be a disease of the poor. Almonte’s Mayor Simpson reported that the Almonte town council had an isolated building in view which later turned out to be unsuitable. Mayor Simpson then met with the reeve of Ramsay. Sometime before 1910, the Sanitary Inspector for the Town of Almonte looked after the hospital under instructions from the chairman of the Board of Health.
According to the Mississippi Mills site the hospital was located on the SW1/2 of Lot 13, Concession 9, Ramsay Twp and the history was compiled by Sarah More for the Mississippi Mills Heritage Committee, in June 2017.
The Union Almonte and Ramsay Contagious Hospital was also known as the Pest House, or sometimes the Isolation Hospital. The two acres of land was bought in 1902 from a Roman Catholic farmer, Thomas McDonell for $100. The one storey frame building was built in the same year by the Town of Almonte and Township of Ramsay for $700. If you have heard past conversations about the “Poor House” and “Plague House” — please note that they were one and the same building on the hill behind the Catholic cemetery according to Murray Guthrie.
There were many outbreaks in the form of typhoid fever, diphtheria, scarlet fever, and smallpox in the area. Murray Guthrie remembers some Brits being bitten by mosquitos and thinking they had small pox. They stayed at the “Pest House” on Roy Rogers’ farm on Country Street in 1930. According to the Almonte Centennial book, Faces and Places: 1880-1980, “It was here that men returning from the lumber camps were sent when they had contracted contagious diseases.”
Did you know that Carleton Place had a very small isolation hospital located at the extreme end of Bridge Street in that town? 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. So the Union Almonte and Ramsay Contagious Hospital took people in from all around the area as the need was great.
In 1905, according to the Almonte Gazette, “a young man from the Old Country who went fishing on the river here was so badly bitten by black flies that when he went to a doctor the physician feared he had some contagious disease such as chicken pox or small pox. So he sent the poor fellow home to the Commercial House where he was staying and all the people there were quarantined over the weekend “. By that time the doctor decided the elder gentleman was just a victim of black flies and not having built up resistance to them, reacted to their bites worse than other people.
According to an Almonte Gazette article dated 7 February 1902, “The structure will be 72 feet long and 16 feet wide with a ten foot ceiling. It will be one story with the exception of the kitchen portion which will be two stories, with a bedroom located above the kitchen.”
The building had a long passage with 6 foot rooms for cots on either side—seven apartments, five for patients and one each for the doctor and nurse. Berths would be built in the apartments for the patients.
The Pest House in Almonte was used as such from the year 1902 to sometime between 1930 and 1959, likely run by Drs. Archibald Albert Metcalfe (1870-1962) and John King Kelly, (1874-1954) prior to the openings of the Victorian (Cottage) Hospital and Rosamond Memorial Hospital. ( Fran Cooper local historian)
By 1910, the building had fallen into disrepair. The Finance Committee for the Town of Almonte proposed to the Township of Ramsay, 1. The property to be put in repair at once and kept in repair at the joint expense of the two municipalities. 2. A caretaker to be put in charge of the property. 3. Any necessary additions required hereafter to the building, furnishings or equipment to be provided from time to time at the joint expense of the two municipalities. 4. The board, medicine, medical attendance, care and nursing of each patient to be borne by the municipality to which such patient belongs.
By 1911, the matter was left in the hands of the property Committee of the Township of Ramsay, with the suggestion that the timely advice of Chief Lowry (former Sanitary Inspector) to have a phone installed in the hospital be carried out. Unfortunately, nothing more is known concerning this decision.
Perhaps due to financial constraints, it was decided to demolish the building sometime between 1930-1959, and perhaps amalgamate the patients with those at the Rosamond Memorial Hospital. Presently, the property is still owned by the Municipality of Mississippi Mills.
What’s left of what some called Pest House? There is a concrete staircase, consisting of three steps, beside a former well which likely served the former kitchen. The remnants of a part wood, part barbed-wire fence can also be found near the property entrance as seen from the end of St. Mary’s Cemetery. Smallpox and the Spanish Flu was once the worst disease in history. It killed more people than all the wars in history– until Covid 19 knocked at our door.
In October of 1910 the Public Health Conference listened to an exhaustive address from Dr. Charles A. Hodgetts, medical adviser to the Public Health Committee of the House of Commons on the serious pollution of waterways in Canada and the United States. And five minutes’ walk from the Centre Block, the Ottawa City Council met in the city hall to consider a proposal to bring in the city’s water supply from McGregor’s Lake because of repeated outbreaks of typhoid fever caused by drinking water in the city’s mains which had been pumped in from the Ottawa River. Well, this was Ottawa’s problem, and it was serious for the 86,106 people and 1856 dogs in 1910 census.
It is not surprising to note that the Almonte Town Council was wrestling with ” a report from the committee appointed to examine Union Almonte and Ramsay Contagious Hospital.” The Pest House! Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose! Virulent outbreaks of contagion in the form of typhoid fever, diphtheria, scarlet fever, smallpox, as well as injuries due to explosions, train accidents, runaways, kicks from horses – these were the common complaints. Strangely enough, newer forms of injuries were coming to the notice of medical practise due to crashing automobiles, and falls from flying machines.
March 1, 1901- Almonte Gazette
Fran Cooper research
The Almonte Gazette: Almonte Gazette, 1 March 1901 (Courtesy of Marjorie Weir of Almonte and her cousin, Frances “Fran” Cooper, of Stittsville) The Smallpox Scare. The spreading of smallpox in Ontario is becoming a serious matter, as cases are being reported from a large number of towns and villages all over the northern part of the province… Mayor Simpson informs us that the Almonte town council has an isolated building in view in case of emergency—one that could be occupied on short notice should any stray smallpox victim happen to reach our town…
Almonte Gazette, 22 March 1901 ALMONTE COUNCIL On motion of Messrs. Wylie and Lees, the mayor was instructed to communicate with the reeve of Ramsay with a view to having a joint meeting to consider the question of establishing a hospital for contagious diseases. 179
Almonte Gazette, 7 June 1901 ALMONTE COUNCIL The mayor reported that at a joint meeting of the Almonte and Ramsay boards of health, held last week, it was agreed to secure a suitable house for a contagious disease hospital, to be held in readiness for cases of emergency. He further reported that the building spoken of at the meeting was since found not suitable, not being the proper distance away from the nearest houses.
Almonte Gazette January 1902
Almonte Gazette, 29 April 1910, (page 4) Special Council Meeting On motion of Messrs. O’Reilly and Williams the Town Property Committee was instructed to advertise for a sanitary inspector and report at next regular meeting. Drynan—“How about the contagious diseases hospital? Who is supposed to look after it? Ramsay and Almonte combined to build it. Who is supposed to pay for its upkeep? If there is no one appointed I think we should appoint a deputation to wait on Ramsay council and arrange to have some one take care of the building as I understand it has fallen into disrepair.” McCallum—“ The Chief looked after it when he was sanitary inspector. Evidently no one had been near it since.” On motion the Chief was heard. Chief— “During the time I was sanitary inspector I always looked after the hospital under instructions from the chairman of the Board of Health. So far as I know Ramsay bore no share of the expense.” Drynan—“Did you consider it part of your duty as sanitary inspector?” Chief—“Yes.” McDowall—“We cannot send our inspector out into Ramsay. While the Chief may have done so, we cannot expect an inspector to do so unless it is in his contract.” On motion of Messrs. Drynan and Williams, Councillor McDowall was instructed to wait on the Ramsay council at their next regular meeting to explain the condition of the Isolation Hospital and ask them to cooperate in securing some person to look after the same. Council then adjourned. Almonte Gazette, 11 November 1910, (page 2) Town Council Reeve Drynan then presented the report of the special committee appointed to confer with the Ramsay township council in reference to the Contagious Hospital. The following report from the Finance Committee was presented and adopted: To the Mayor, etc: Your special committee appointed to confer with representatives of the Ramsay Council as to the contagious diseases hospital, beg to report that we have discussed the matter with the Ramsay Committee, and recommend that arrangement be made. (Fran Cooper)
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.