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History: 1914-1929 ORIGINS, 19141929 DEPRESSION DEVELOPMENTS, 19301939

Influenza Pandemic, 1918–1919

As the Germans unleashed their final offensive in the spring of 1918, a new enemy appeared. Influenza attacked troops on both sides of the conflict, and the Canadian army found that the disease struck its troops both in France and in camps at home with terrifying rapidity. The outbreak spread quickly to the civilian population, killing many young adults between the ages of 20 and 45. Communities rallied to provide food, bedding, fuel and care to the stricken, but the speed of the disease's spread revealed the limits of medical knowledge and contemporary communicable disease control measures. Among many Canadians, however, the loss of 50,000 young men and women to influenza in addition to the 60,000 war dead prompted demands for government action to protect future generations from similar suffering.

Photo: influenza poster, NA-4548-5

Public health authorities across Canada produced posters like this one from Alberta to inform people about the Spanish flu, the name given to the strain of influenza that caused a pandemic in 19181919.
Glenbow Archives, NA-4548-5

Influenza (Spanish)
This Disease Is Highly Communicable. It May Develop Into a Severe Pneumonia.
Issued by the Provincial Board of Health

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    Date Created: March 31, 2010 | Last Updated: April 21, 2010