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Archive for March, 2010

County got off lightly with Spanish Flu

Advertisement for Dr Pierce's Golden Medical Discovery, from The Picton Times, November 21, 1918

Tonight’s talk by Phil Ainsworth on the effects of the Spanish Flu on this corner of Ontario was fascinating. 65 people died in the flu’s brief reign here, between September 1918 and January 1912. Thirty-eight of those people, over two thirds of those who died, were aged between 13 and 40; it was startling to learn that no-one in that age group died in the County in the five months before and the five months after that period.

Overall, Phil believes that Prince Edward County escaped relatively lightly, with around 0.38% of its people being killed by the pandemic. The estimated death rate for North America as a whole is 5%. Phil suggests that the relative isolation of the community may have contributed to the low levels of mortality.

It was interesting to hear some of the individual stories behind the figures: the young Picton auctioneer who was the first person to die, and the seven-year-old daughter of the Telegraph Island lighthouseman, for example. Phil is keen to find out more about how the Spanish flu affected families in the County. If you have information about your own family’s experience with the disease, he would be keen to hear from you. You can get in touch with him at painswor@kos.net.

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Phil Ainsworth on the Spanish Flu

Spanish Flu poster, 1918 (from the Glenbow Museum)

In 1918 and 1919 the Spanish Flu spread around the world, killing more people than the fighting in the First World War (some estimates suggest that 50-100 million people died: 3% of the world’s population at the time).

Join the Prince Edward Historical Society on Thursday, March 25 at 7.30pm in the Wellington Library to hear how this pandemic affected the people of Prince Edward County and how the authorities coped with the onslaught of the disease.

Phil Ainsworth is a well-known local historian and author, whose talks in the County are always popular. We look forward to seeing you at this event, which is free to attend and open to all. If you are not already a member of the Historical Society, there will be a chance to sign up on the night (for a very reasonable $10!) to help support us in putting on events like this.

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