Tragedies of War and the Spanish Flu

I think Grampy must have been expecting us as the kitchen stove was just a blazing with a roaring fire when we came to visit him on this frosty November evening.

For a moment, he seemed lost in thought as he gazed at the red poppies that Cliff and I were wearing. Then he said, “I have been around for three wars and have watched friends and neighbours march off to battle, not knowing what would be their fate.”

“Trueman who farmed near the Station went overseas in July of 1916. The next year on Easter Sunday, he lost his sight when he was shelled at Vimy Ridge in France.”  “He probably spent some time at the St. Dunstan’s in England learning how to be blind as a relative once told me that Sir Arthur Pearson, the author of ‘Victory Over Blindness’ sent him an autographed copy of the book that was published in 1919 with record of the life and work at St. Dunstan’s, the Hostel for the soldiers and sailors of the British Imperial Forces blinded in the War.”

“Just about the time in 1918, when we thought the tragedy of death at war was coming to an end, the Spanish influenza hit the world with millions of people dying.” “ It was said that possibly as many as 50 thousand Canadians died of this airborne disease that probably came home with the folk involved in the war and it spread very quickly across Canada.”

“Many a soldier survived the horrors in the battlefields only to lose his life to this flu either in the trenches or after returning home.”

“In October of 1918, Dr. William Roberts, the minister of health in New Brunswick, outlawed the gathering of more than five people. Schools and churches were closed for five weeks in an effort to combat the spread of the Spanish influenza.”

Grampy took out his handkerchief and wiped a tear as he continued, “The illness would  hit young adults with cold like symptoms that quickly led to pneumonia.  Often within a few hours the person was dead. Some people who appeared healthy at bedtime were found as a corpse in bed in the morning - others were healthy at dawn and dead by nightfall.” 

“I saw many a door in Saint John, with a black rosette as a memorial to the loss of a family member.”

According to ‘The Silent Enemy - Canada and the Deadly Flu of 1918' by Eileen Pettigrew, when Christine Ryan Fewing answered the door of her home in Saint John one morning, it was to hear sad news: a family friend, the mother of several children, had died of the flu. As she talked with the messenger, the telephone rang; it was word that another friend had died. When she went to the house to visit, the grandmother was very ill with a little child clinging to her apron. Both parents died of pneumonia that day. The St. James Street Salvation Army hostel, took care of the grandmother. Family members took the baby to raise.

For the Swim family of Doaktown, on the Miramichi River, the flu epidemic had tragic results. Of their three sons, two died - Lloyd, twenty-three, a fourth-year medical student at McGill University, on October 23 and three weeks later, twenty-eight-year-old Earle.

The full force of the flu hit Moncton in October of 1918 with more than three thousand people falling ill. There were eighty-five deaths, nearly all were under thirty-five years of age. At Edmunston there were two thousand cases and twenty-three deaths. It is estimated that New Brunswick had 35,582 cases and 1,394 deaths.

In 1983, Eileen Pettigrew journeyed across Canada tracing human experiences to compile the 156 page publication, “The Silent Enemy and the Deadly Flu of 1918" which is available at several research institutions.

At the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick - Spanish Flu

Daily Gleaner (Fredericton) of October 11, 1918 in the MC3 Research Papers and Notes.

In RS136 Record of the Deputy Minister of Health and Community Services, there are 13 files of reports of cases by counties;
statistics, 1918-1919; media releases & clippings, 1918-1923; and
correspondence, 1918-1920

If interested in finding out more information on the Spanish Flu in Canada, I suggest you do a search for Spanish influenza Canada  

Query 1227
Fowler: In the 1851 Census of Saint John County, Gabriel W. Fowler, age 55, is listed as a shoemaker. Is he the same Gabriel W. Fowler of Saint John who married Maria Waring in New York on May 6, 1820 as stated in the Acadian Recorder? Can anyone provide me with information on him?
139 Colborne Street
Station Square
Elora, Ontario
Canada, N0B 1S0

Query 1228
Juul: I am seeking records on the time spent in New Brunswick of Nils Juul, who came  from Denmark in 1879, and died in the early 1880's in Bluebell and was buried in Old Immigration Cemetery in New Denmark, New Brunswick.
15 Currier Rd.
Fort Fairfield, ME
04742, USA
New and Used Genealogical and Historical books of New Brunswick for sale.

Ruby M. Cusack is a genealogy buff living in New Brunswick, Canada. Send your New Brunswick genealogical queries to her at:  Include your name and mailing address for the benefit of the readers of the newspaper who do not have access to E-mail but could have information to share with you. Please put "Yesteryear" followed by the surnames in your query. For more information on submitting queries, visit
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