Tag Archives: Typhoid

The Fly Contest– Typhoid Remedies 1912

The Fly Contest– Typhoid Remedies 1912

Thanks to Bob Simpson

Prior to 1912, typhoid fever was the leading cause of death in Ontario. Children died like flies from typhoid because our sewage and drinking water were admixed. As towns and cities began filtering and chlorinating its water and typhoid basically vanished.

Walter Reed and his coworkers investigated the cause of the typhoid epidemics in the U.S. Army camps and concluded that, next to human contact, the housefly (Musca domestica) was the most active agent in the spread of the disease. The chain of evidence incriminating the house fly as a disseminator of typhoid fever is at present fairly complete, but many of the links are weak and not thoroughly strengthened by experimentation. The experiments described in the present paper show that flies can ingest typhoid bacilli from natural matter, i.e. human faeces and urine, and carry them for a certain period of time.

There is no evidence to show that the typhoid bacilli multiply in the house fly. On the contrary the evidence goes to show that they are not adapted for prolonged life on or in the fly. It thus follows that the house fly is a purely mechanical carrier of the typhoid bacillus and is not a natural “host” in the strict sense of the term.

Thanks to Bob Simpson for finding the first clipping.

Apparently flies were such a problem in Ottawa in 1912 that a contest was held to see who could catch the most. The dead flies had to be taken to the Board of Health to be counted before a winner could be declared. It must have been a treat to be the person counting them.

CLIPPED FROMLancaster TellerLancaster, Wisconsin20 Jun 1912, Thu  •  Page 6

CLIPPED FROMLancaster TellerLancaster, Wisconsin20 Jun 1912, Thu  •  Page 6

CLIPPED FROMLancaster TellerLancaster, Wisconsin20 Jun 1912, Thu  •  Page 6


Keep the flies away from the sick, especially those ill with contagious diseases. Kill every fly that strays into ithe sickroom. His body is covered with disease germs.

Do not allow decaying material of any sort to accumulate on or near your premises. Screen all food and insist that your grocer, butcher, baker and every one from whom you buy foodstuffs does the same.

Dont buy foodstuffs where flies are tolerated. Dont eat where flies have access to food. Keep all receptacles for garbage carefully covered and the cans cleaned or sprinkled with oil or lime.

Keep all stable manure in vault or pit, screened or sprinkled with lime, oil or other cheap preparations, as 98 per cent of the flies come from stable manure and 2 per cent from garbage and other filth.

Keep the streets and alleys clean. See that your sewage system is in good order; that it does not leak, is up to date and not exposed to fiies. Pour kerosene into the drains.

Burn pyrethrum powder in the house to kill the flies or use a mixture of formaldehyde and water, one spoonful to a quarter pint of water. This exposed in the room will kill all the flies. Burn or bury all table refuse.

Screen all windows and doors, especially in the kitchen and dining room. If you see flies you may be sure that their breeding place is in nearby filth. It may be behind the door, under the table or in the cuspidore. Remove all refuse and filth from house, yard and outhouses and thus prevent flies from breeding bn your premises. If there is no dirt and filth there will be no flies.

IF THERE IS A NUISANCE IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD WRITE AT ONCE TO THE BOARD OF HEALTH. Health is wealth, and an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. There is more health in a house well screened than in many a doctors visit. The only safe way is to keep out the flies.

CLIPPED FROMLancaster TellerLancaster, Wisconsin20 Jun 1912, Thu  •  Page 6

CLIPPED FROMLancaster TellerLancaster, Wisconsin20 Jun 1912, Thu  •  Page 6

Backyard Histor

1815 became known in Nova Scotia as “Anno Marium” or “The Year Of The Mice” because the province was overrun by an invasion of the rodents!

“…An army of mice marched over Colchester, Pictou and Antigonish Counties, eating everything before it as it advanced. It was a veritable plague, as serious for a time as that of the frogs sent upon the land of Egypt,” recalled the 1892 booklet ‘Forest, Stream and Seashore.’ The topic was a curious choice to include in that early tourism guide, since rodent invasions aren’t typically known for attracting tourists.

In 1877 Dr. George Patterson went around Nova Scotia interviewing old timers about the strange incident, compiling their tales in his book ‘History of Pictou County.’ He wrote:

“The [mice] were very destructive and actually fierce. If pursued, when hard pressed, they would stand at bay, rising upon their hind legs, setting their teeth and squealing fiercely. A farmer on whom I could rely told me that having, after planting, spread out some barley to dry in the sun before the door, in a little while he saw it covered with them. He let the cat out among them, but they actually turned upon her and fought her.”

Dr. Patterson wrote that the mice appeared without warning; “during the previous season they did not appear in any unusual numbers.” But that Spring “before planting was over, the woods and fields alike swarmed with them.”

That Summer the mice grew worse: “These animals swarmed everywhere, and consumed everything edible, even the potatoes in the ground. In some houses at West River are still reserved books which the leather on the covers has been gnawed by them.”

When Autumn rolled in –that important time when crops were harvested for the winter– the mice ate everything: “They have been known to cut down an acre in three days, so that whole fields were destroyed in a short time … Over acres and acres, they left not a stalk standing, nor a grain of wheat, to reward the labours of the farmer.”

The mice caused a crop failure. The all too real threat of starvation hung over Nova Scotia.

A newspaper report by farmer Nathaniel Symond in Antigonish stated: “upwards of five hundred souls … had nothing to subsist on but the very scanty allowance of milk their cows afforded them.”

A large scale aid effort was launched to provide food to parts of Nova Scotia facing starvation that winter.

Dr. Patterson wrote that when the weather grew colder the mice grew sluggish and began to die by the thousands. Possibly in an effort to eat seaweed washing up on the shore, they made their way towards the coast: “and there died, forming a ridge like seaweed along the edge of the sea, and codfish were caught off the coast with carcasses in their maws.”

For more on The Year Of The Mice, and other forgotten stories from Atlantic Canada’s history, listen to the Backyard History Podcast, on
Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/5FFZ1eDHZPAFqwN4p0vraA

Did Typhoid Come from Sinks? Lanark County Dilema..

Names Names Names — Local Donation List – The Carleton County Protestant General Hospital

The Cholera Epidemic of 1911

ROCKIN’ Cholera On the Trek to the New World — Part 4

1,200 Died of Plague Which Hit City in 1847

The Cholera Epidemic of 1832

Think the Smallpox issue on Outlander was far fetched?

Tales from Oliver’s Ferry

Smallpox in Carleton Place — Did You Know?

The Great White Plague

The Ice Pick Cometh — Ottawa Artificial Ice Co.

The Ice Pick Cometh — Ottawa Artificial Ice Co.
photo Adin Daigle

I saw this photo on Adin Wesley Daigle’s Facebook page and I could not tackle this item quick enough. The ice pick somehow holds great prominence in my mind. I watched my Grandmother attack her 20 by 10 freezer in the 60s that was more ice than food. Sometimes I would come downstairs early in the morning and watch her use that ice pick like her life depended on it trying to retrieve what the ice had eaten up. She would open boxes, and anything else that needed to be opened with it — always in Barbara Stanwyck style. Ice picks were sometimes used in forms of murder, and I wondered what the history was behind this item. Were any murders committed with an Ottawa Artificial Ice Co. ice pick similar to the film Eyes of Laura Mars?

January 13 at 2:51 PM  · A neat ice pick I’ve had for some time…Ottawa Artificial Ice co. Limited….haven’t found much on the company 🤔

Found by Diane Edwards–The Ottawa Journal
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
27 Dec 1912, Fri  •  Page 2

Jaan Kolk posted on Adin’s timeline that The Ottawa Artificial Ice Co. plant was on the east side of Nicholas, midway between Somerset and Mann. It remained in business until the property was expropriated for the expansion of the U of O campus in 1959; however, the Rideau exchange phone number dates the ice pick to before the introduction of automated “dialing” with 5-digit numbers in 1938. Here’s an aerial photo showing the plant in 1933 (cropped from NAPL A4571_26):

Here’s an aerial photo showing the plant in 1933 (cropped from NAPL A4571_26): Jaan Kolk

When my Grandmother got an icebox in the late 30s she told me she could keep milk for a day and meat fresh for 36 hours. I remember the ice man coming in the 50s delivering ice to our home with long tongs in each hand carrying two 25-pound blocks at a time. The deliverymen began their day before dawn to ensure local shops had ice before business hours and then go to the private residences that were waiting for him.

One day I remember that there were no more drip pans to be emptied, and no more ice to be purchased. The electrical refrigerator spelled the end of the iceman and the blocks of ice that were stored in sawdust in dark places.

So why buy artificial ice than purchase regular ice? Jaan Kolk said: “Coincident with the typhoid outbreaks of 1911 and 1912, the Ottawa Artificial Ice Co. was formed to exploit the mistrust of river ice. It produced ice by artificial refrigeration of distilled water, originally, and later water from it’s own deep well. The technical expertise came from Phillip D. Lyons, who had previously run an artificial ice plant in the Caribbean; the investors were the usual suspects, with names like Ahearn, Bate, Booth.”

“Ice cutting on the Clyde River”
Adin Daigle photo

In 1913 the Ottawa Artificial Ice Co. advertised they would supply water from eight taps placed at front of their building on Nicholas St. It was advertised as ‘DOUBLE DISTILLED WATER’ piped direct from their distilling tanks. By running the Distilling plant at full capacity, nearly 5000 gallons over and above what was needed for ice could be made each day. They boasted that the water was pleasant to taste, as the air was put back into the water after it is distilled. It was advertised as a patented process and germ proof made fresh each day

The charges at the water taps were: 25c For ten gallons. 3c Per odd gallon. You were to bring your water bottles to the ICE PLANT and have them filled with the only absolutely pure water that money can buy. They insisted that if you bought spring water it could not be ABSOLUTELY GUARANTEED and you paid 40c to 50c for five gallons of it, so their water and ice was supreme.

Was ice really spreading Typhoid Fever? In reality, the total number of instances of typhoid fever which had been directly traced to ice infection were remarkably few. One was in France, where a group of officers placed ice made from water polluted by a sewer in their wine and afterwards developed typhoid fever, while those of the same company not using ice escaped. A second case was in a small epidemic which occurred in those who used ice from a pond. It was found that water directly infected with typhoid feces and had flowed over. So yes, the advertising was formed to exploit mistrust of regular ice as Jaan said. But today, some articles say to avoid ice because it may have been made from unclean water. So who knows?

So how about those ice pick murders I was looking for? I am disappointed to tell you that the ice pick was only used as a threatening weapon except in the case of the Mafia’s gangsters of Murder Inc. in October of 1940.

“The bum ain’t dead yet.” To make sure, they used a meat cleaver and an Ice pick. The car with its gruesome cargo was left on a, quiet residential street. The gangsters did not know it but. Whitey Rudnick’s corpse was to contribute more to their undoing than anything the little loan shark had done when he was alive.

Okay there was another case in Montreal in 1936….

Five men and a woman will be tried for murder at the Autumn term of the Court of King’s Bench. The murder charges, being heard by Mr. Justice Philemon Cousineau. arose from the deaths of seven persons, three from illegal operations. The others were found, to have been slain with ice pick, axe and club

So I guess it’s back to Lizzie Borden for me. Except, I found this wonderful ad from Oglivy’s that used to be on Rideau Street in Ottawa.  For absolutely free- no strings or obligations whatsoever, you got a free quality ice pick, with a tempered steel blade, and smart, enamelled handle and exceptional construction throughout All you had to do was ask their floorman for one. After he showed to show you the beautiful the 1935 Hostess refrigerator. Now that was a murder of a deal!

The Ottawa Journal
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
01 May 1935, Wed  •  Page 10

Found by Diane Edwards–The Ottawa Journal
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
27 Dec 1912, Fri  •  Page 2
The Ottawa Journal
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
07 Jan 1913, Tue  •  Page 10
The Ottawa Distributors of Kelvinator Electric Refrigerators Commencing in September 1929 the Ottawa Artificial Ice Company, according to an announcement by the officials of the company.
The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
24 Jan 1913, Fri  •  Page 4
The Ottawa Journal
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
15 Mar 1894, Thu  •  Page 7
The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
27 Apr 1923, Fri  •  Page 18
photo-Curtis Webster

Related reading

Would You Like Some Ice With that Drink?

Did Typhoid Come from Sinks? Lanark County Dilema..

Did Typhoid Come from Sinks? Lanark County Dilema..

In the year 1888 there was a lot of publicity in the town papers over a peculiar case in Lanark County in which a whole family of nine, one after the other, contracted typhoid fever.

The family was respectable and clean, but as the house did not have any drainage there was a lot of discussion, in which the the family doctor, and newspapers participated, as to the cause of the disease. The house had a sink in a summer kitchen and this was connected with the drain. Over this sink there was hot controversy.

The doctor declared the sink was not “trapped.” but it was also declared there was a trap on the fewer pipe and that the sink had played no part in the cause of the disease. And so the argument waged. The family doctor stated that if the nature of the disease had been known in the first place (it was not for several weeks) the spread of it might have been avoided by certain sanitary precautions which had not been regarded as necessary.

What was left of the family was ostracised by the community instead of looking for a reason this happened.

Typhoid Mary Was a Real, Asymptomatic Carrier Who Caused Multiple Outbreaks  | Discover Magazine

Typhoid Mary

Mary Mallon was born in Ireland in 1869 and emigrated to the United States in 1883 or 1884. She was engaged in 1906 as a cook by Charles Henry Warren, a wealthy New York banker, who rented a residence to Oyster Bay on the north coast of Long Island for the summer. From 27 August to 3 September, 6 of the 11 people present in the house were suffering from typhoid fever. At this time, typhoid fever was still fatal in 10% of cases and mainly affected deprived people from large cities .

The sanitary engineer, committed by the Warren family, George Sober, published the results of his investigation on the 15th of June 1907, in JAMA. Having believed initially that freshwater clams could be involved in these infections, he had hastily conducted his interrogation of the sick people and also of Mary who had presented a moderate form of typhoid [7]. Mary continued to host the bacteria, contaminating everything around her, a real threat for the surrounding environment. Although Sober initially feared that the soft clams were the culprits, this proved to be incorrect as not all of those stricken had eaten them. Finally Sober had solved the mystery and became the first author to describe a “healthy carrier” of Salmonella typhi in the United States.

From March 1907, Sober started stalking Mary Mallon in Manhattan and he revealed that she was transmitting disease and death by her activity. His attempts to obtain samples of Mary’s feces, urine and blood, earned him nothing but being chased by her. Sober reconstituted the puzzle by discovering that previously the cook had served in 8 families. Seven of them had experienced cases of typhoid. Twenty-two people presented signs of infection and some died.

The Community Wells — Water Water Everywhere?

Union Almonte and Ramsay Contagious Hospital — “The Pest House”

Dark Moments in Ottawa History- Porter Island


Outside the home, on County Road 29, a passersby can read a plaque detailing the connection to James Naismith. The local hero was born in November 1861, in a home on the same property, all of which was owned by his extended family. Unseen James Naismith Photos and his Real Birthplace

When he was nine years old, his father got work at Grand Calumet and the family moved. But typhoid fever felled both parents, leaving nine-year-old James, his sister and brother orphans. The young trio returned to the stone home and were brought up by their uncle. Today there are memories of James Naismith in the restored rooms. The Smiths were diligent in the restoration, repairing stone work, refinishing floors, re-installing the trademark wrap-around veranda’ and reshingling the roof with cedar.

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.”

Clipping from
The Almonte Gazette
Friday December 28th, 1917, page 8

Physicians had a variety of treatments for typhoid fever including the administration of turpentine, quinine, brandy and quinine sulphate, or hygienic measures considered by most “by far the more important”. When Fanny died she was 33 and he was 51.

Carleton Place

Donald and George Cameron, the two brothers who conducted the butcher business, have been particularly unfortunate in the last year. Some months ago their father and mother and two brothers died of typhoid fever. They have been in business about a year and were making good advancement. Their insurance will fall considerably short of the loss so they will not likely re-establish. Their horses and rigs were at their home on another street which was not reached by the fire. 1909

One interesting thing was the wells was said to have fine water but the wells were never tested. They may have been, but there is no reference to the fact– nor complaints about the water. In those days, people were used to getting some dirt in their mouths from time to time. They drank out of delivery barrels from the hardware store which were seldom cleaned, and out of their own barrels which were frequently uncovered and subject to dust and contamination. But somehow or other they survived.

The days of the civic wells are gone, never to return, now that we have filtered water. But in the typhoid epidemic of the nineteen hundreds, the people were glad to use the new bored wells.

By the middle of the 1870’s, it was expected that a fashionable home in Carleton Place would have running water and an indoor bathroom.  This was generally accomplished by placing a large water tank in the attic which was usually lead lined — one reason the average life span was shorter back then.

One water pipe usually ran down to a boiler in the kitchen, where it could be heated —