Question: How did the 1918-19 flu pandemic influence Canada immediately following the First World War? Consider the political, cultural, and economic impact as well as the effects on veterans returning from the war.
In your answer, compare and contrast how Canadians responded to the 1918-19 pandemic and Covid-19.
The 1918-19 flu pandemic in Canada truly tested our ability to thrive and adapt. Not only on an economic and political level, but also on a day to day basis. Those two years were hard for Canada. Everyone around the world felt it’s impact, just as much as we are now. Both pandemics, the Spanish flu and Covid-19, have been and are testing our strength.
The same year the war ended in 1918, the Spanish flu began to spread. As the war veterans were finally coming back home, they unknowingly brought home the flu. Hospitals filled up fast, not only with sick patients but also with wounded soldiers. They were soon overflowing and had to use hotels and schools to accommodate for the onslaught of patients. Hospitals weren’t the only thing to be hit, the government shut down all non-essential businesses which resulted in businesses having to lay off workers or shut down completely. This also resulted in many people being unemployed and unable to pay for the bare necessities, like food or toothpaste. During this time over 50,000 Canadians died, many children found themselves orphans overnight. The hardest hit was on the veterans returning home.They came from a hard place into a hard place, with no break in between. Through them the pandemic spread like wildfire and even reached the remotest communities, including First Nations reserves.
The Spanish Flu pandemic is very much like Covid-19. In the 2000’s there has been an increased travel rate, thus the pandemic was able to spread extremely fast, just like the Spanish flu did. Yet it has not reached remote communities as much as you’d think. In fact places like Alaska and Greenland have only had a few cases. Yet in 1918 the flu was able to wipe out entire communities. This goes to show that our safety measures are much better than they were in 1918. In fact we have not had to use hotels or schools for overflow patients. This may be due to the fact that the Department of Health was created in 1919. Another aspect to the Covid-19 pandemic is the internet. Even though businesses are struggling right now, they have adapted to having their employees work from home. Something that Canadians didn’t have in 1918. One thing that was similar was the mandatory mask rule and all the protests that followed. The Spanish flu and Covid-19 pandemics were and still are hard times to live in.
In conclusion, 1918 was really hard for everyone around the world. Canadians struggled to survive and keep safe, just as they are now. Thankfully with increased safety measures and a deeper knowledge of viruses in general, the government knows how to keep us all safe. The Spanish flu was a terrible virus, but we learned, adapted and changed. Now in 2021 we are still learning and changing our ways for the better.
Dickin Janice, Bailey Patricia, James-Abra Erin "1918 Spanish Flu in Canada" Canadian Encyclopedia. March 18, 2020. https://thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/1918-spanish-flu-in-canada
This is for an award application, so critical reviews are greatly appreciated! Thanks ^-^