Epidemic Encounters

Influenza, Society, and Culture in Canada, 1918-20

Edited by Magda Fahrni and Esyllt W. Jones

  • Published: 2012. Paperback 2013
  • Subject Listing: History
  • Bibliographic information: 352 pp., 6 x 9 in.
  • Territorial rights: US rights only
  • Distributed for: UBC Press
  • Contents

Health crises such as the SARS epidemic and H1N1 have rekindled interest in the 1918 influenza pandemic, which swept the globe in the wake of the First World War and killed approximately 50 million people. Now more than ever, medical, public health, and government officials are looking to the past to help prepare for future emergencies.

Epidemic Encounters zeroes in on Canada, where one-third of the population took ill and fifty-five thousand people died, to consider the various ways in which this country was affected by the pandemic. How did military and medical authorities, health care workers, and ordinary citizens respond? What role did social inequalities play in determining who survived? To answer these questions as they pertained to both local and national contexts, the contributors explore a number of key themes and topics, including the experiences of nurses and Aboriginal peoples, public letter writing in Montreal, the place of the epidemic within industrial modernity, and the relationship between mourning and interwar spiritualism.

The Canadian experience brings to light the complex ways that biology, science, society, and culture intersect in a globalizing world and offers new insight into medical history's usefulness in the struggle against epidemic disease.
Magda Fahrni is an associate professor in theDepartment of History at the Université du Québec Montréal.Esyllt W. Jones is an associate professor in theDepartment of History at the University of Manitoba. Contributors: Francis Dubois, Denis Goulet, D. AnnHerring, Mark Osborne Humphries, Mary-Ellen Kelm, Ellen Korol, HeatherMacDougall, Linda Quiney, Karen Slonim, and Jean-Pierre Thouez.

"This timely book undertakes a detailed and rigorous analysis of the 1918 flu epidemic as it affected Canada. It is a welcome addition to Canadian medical historiography, as well as the international literature of this pandemic."
-J.T.H. Connor, John Clinch Professor of Medical Humanities and History of Medicine, Memorial University of Newfoundland
Introduction / Magda Fahrni and Esyllt Jones

Part 1: Public Responses to the Influenza Pandemic inCanada

1 The Limits of Necessity: Public Health, Dissent, andthe War Effort during the 1918 Influenza Pandemic / Mark OsborneHumphries

2 "Rendering Valuable Service": The Politicsof Nursing during the 1918-19 Influenza Crisis / LindaQuiney

3 "Respectfully Submitted": Citizens andPublic Letter Writing during Montreal's Influenza Epidemic,1918-20 / Magda Fahrni

Part 2: Who Contracted Influenza and Why?

4 The North-South Divide: Social Inequality andMortality from the 1918 Influenza Pandemic in Hamilton, Ontario /D. Ann Herring and Ellen Korol

5 Beyond Biology: Understanding the Social Impact ofInfectious Disease in Two Aboriginal Communities / KarenSlonim

6 A Geographical Analysis of the Spread of SpanishInfluenza in Quebec, 1918-20 / Francis Dubois, Jean-Pierre Thouez,and Denis Goulet

Part 3: Influenza and the Limits of Modernity

7 Flu Stories: Engaging with Disease, Death, andModernity in British Columbia, 1918-19 / Mary-Ellen Kelm

8 Spectral Influenza: Winnipeg's Hamilton Family,Interwar Spiritualism, and Pandemic Disease / Esyllt Jones

Part 4: Influenza and Public Health in the ContemporaryContext

9 Toronto's Health Department in Action: Influenzain 1918 and SARS in 2003 / Heather MacDougall

Conclusion / Esyllt Jones and Magda Fahrni

Selected Bibliography