A RYERSON UNIVERSITY HISTORY PROF. COMPARES OUR PANDEMIC WITH 1918’S ‘SPANISH FLU’

Professor ARNE KISLENKO writes “We can draw on history for an understanding of how previous generations survived pandemics. The 1918 ‘Spanish Flu’ was amongst the deadliest in history, killing an estimated 50 to 100-million worldwide, including nearly 55,000 Canadians.”<ABOVE – Telephone company women in Calgary have masked up while taking a break outside.>Just as in 2020, marginalized populations were ravaged. Indigenous communities faced a mortality rate five times the national average.Connaught Laboratories in TORONTO developed a vaccine by late 1918, but offered no guarantee if it would work. . . . When the virus dissipated, Canada emerged a different country. A federal Department of Health was created. Some communities were destroyed, or changed forever.<photo – children at Victoria Park Forest School in Toronto practice blowing their noses, 1913; City of Toronto Archives> In 1918 there was no public health insurance, diets were poorer, and sanitation standards were lower. . . . . Anti-viral drugs and other front-line technologies used today were non-existent.   We’ve learned that only patient and concerted action can manage the historical realities of pandemics.” <from the Ryerson University Magazine, Winter/2021>From the TORONTO STAR, 1918 – ‘WEAR A MASK OR GO TO JAIL’ – “A family of six had all been infected with this strange new disease. The father, mother and four children were recovering. But the dad had been laid off for weeks. A terrible hole had been made in the resources of this little family.