The Spanish Influenza

In the latter portion of 1918, Camrose, Alberta was faced with an overwhelming sense of the need for disease preparation. Preparing for what had struck the Eastern Provinces with such vigor, the Spanish Flu or Spanish Influenza instilled in Camrose residents an anxious responsibility for the epidemic that was to come from the East.

The St. Mary’s Hospital was in fact quarantined as of October 24th of 1918. According to The Camrose Canadian newspaper plans were being drawn up to convert the fair grounds into a potential holding space for expected victims of the flu, bound to be making its way west.1

The October 24th, 1918 issue of The Camrose Canadian displayed a noteworthy list of precautions for controlling the Influenza. As of Saturday October 19th, 1918 all public places including schools, churches, theatres, and pool rooms were closed for an “indefinite period of time.”3 Although there had been no reported cases at that time, medical authorities threatened to prosecute any offenders to public gatherings.4 Individuals were encouraged to avoid excess eating and drinking, to attain as much sleep and fresh air as possible, and to keep his or her feet dry.5 One statement in the article advised avoiding home remedies while another conflicting  offered claims to a new serum that had been developed in Rochester to fight the Influenza.6 Finishing off the article, the author stressed “above all, don’t worry!”7

Nurses offered their services in places hit hardest by the flu, particularly the Eastern Provinces, initially for observation of what was to come.8 The Daughters of the Empire volunteered to make gauze masks ordered by the provincial authorities to be worn while travelling. Doctors advised these masks be worn by everyone.9

The U.F.A. (United Farmers of Alberta) even had to cancel its meetings in Northern Alberta, as seen in the image below, due to the epidemic at the request of the Alberta provincial Health officer.10

 December 12, 1918 issue of The Camrose Canadian,
A Notice in the December 12, 1918 issue of The Camrose Canadian

One of the first documented cases of the Spanish Influenza in Camrose was J. C. Kerr, an Irish born resident, who died at the age of thirty three to the influenza on December 8, 1918.2 His death made front page news in The Camrose Canadian December 12th, 1918 issue.

Despite such vigorous attempts by the Camrose populace, Camrose and the Prairies experienced the Spanish Influenza epidemic “comparatively light” 11 to Eastern Canada and the United States. 12

A link to the full article is provided below:  


  1. The Camrose Canadian. “Spanish Flu Rules Must be More Rigidly Observed.” Oct. 24, 1918. 10.47:1.
  2. The Camrose Canadian. “Fatal Sickness Claims J. C. Kerr.” Dec. 12, 1918. 11.2:1. 7.jpg
  3. The Camrose Canadian. “Spanish Flu Rules Must be More Rigidly Observed.” Oct. 24, 1918. 10.47:1.
  4. The Camrose Canadian. “Spanish Flu Rules Must be More Rigidly Observed.” Oct. 24, 1918. 10.47:1.