History repeats itself

Note: The following is about the 1918 Spanish Influenza pandemic. It was taken from the “Goodlands West of the of the Turtle Mountains”- history book and some of it sounds very familiar to way of life caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Thank you to Mary-Ellen and Marvin Morrison for bringing it to the Times and Star.

Flu – 1918 Variety – No Antibiotics Then – written by T.C.B. Boon

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  Among the scattered homes and small communities of southwest Manitoba the epidemic had more direct effect, even in a year noted for heavy frost in June, violent storms with little rain in the summer, wagon boxes in the fall in which the grain could not be seen for Russian thistle and the end of the First World War.

  Rumours of the virulent flu drifted into this part of the province as being of concern in Winnipeg, and the deaths of one of the Camerons of Waskada (said to have been taken ill on the train as he was returning home) and of our Jenny Poole of Goodlands shook the latter community considerably.

 I am told that 90 people died in Morden in the latter part of the year and I know that the Deloraine undertaker (who served a large territory) didn’t see his bed for nights in those horse and buggy days.

  The CPR service on the Lyleton branch came through Goodlands late at night and on its return, very early in the morning. So we got our mail, our other supplies and even the daily paper, but hardly even noticed that the only people on the trains were the crews.

  Then orders came that we were restricted to our own municipalities, church services were cancelled, schools were closed, lodge meetings, dances and concert were postponed indefinitely. 

  By then, I used a potent throat gargle three times a day and kept my hands washed with strong carbolic soap, especially before meals.

  Being then in the lumber business, which has its hazards, I had a good first aid kit with other accessories (my doctor was 12 miles away in Deloraine) and an accessible, private phone. Residents now sought my aid at least in getting advice form a doctor as to flu treatment.

  In some cases, I had to go and give the treatment myself. One of these was that of a good woman who had run up a temperature of 102 and had an irregular heartbeat. So I went to her home, gave her a hypodermic which was half brandy and half a temperature reducer. She now is about 85, remarkably well and active and when occasionally she meets me, always thanks me for saving her life.

  With some flu cases in the village, Goodlands again set up its “pest house”, so designated because it had been used before to isolate some smallpox cases there. The patients were tended by councilor angus Murray and by Dave Tompsett, magistrate, church elder, retired farms and general helper to the community. They did an admirable job, while the rest of us were limited to waving to the patient through the windows.”


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