May 26, 2020

Beyond the ridge: Soldiers, nurses, and the 1918-19 Flu Pandemic

From the Vimy Foundation:

Beyond the Ridge, a series of conversations in partnership with the National Film Board of Canada, brings together Vimy Foundation program alumni and expert academics to examine knowledge of the First World War and how it relates to the Canadian experience today. 

The first instalment of this limited series, in collaboration with Defining Moments Canada, explores the 1918 Influenza Pandemic through the lens of Canadian military personnel of the Great War. This conversation between Kandace Bogaert (PhD in medical anthropology) and Caroline Tolton (Vimy Foundation program alumna) will look at Canada’s pandemic reality over a century ago and how it informs our current reactions to the Covid-19 crisis.

Mentioned in the Webinar 

Howard Phillips, one of the most prominent 1918 flu scholars, who started his research in the 1980’s, has recently written that without the 1918 influenza pandemic, there might not have been an allied victory in the war – that based on the timing of the pandemic’s arrival in different military forces, if the German army hadn’t been stricken with flu in the fall of 1918, the allies might not have secured the armistice when they did. But not everyone agrees – some military historians don’t believe that the flu had any impact, for instance on the last hundred days campaign of the Canadian corps – so often you won’t see any mention of flu in military histories. Here’s a link to Howard’s article if anyone is interested in reading more about this. 

Here is a link to Kandace Bogaert’s article on the epidemic at the Polish Army Camp at Niagara on the lake.

Further Reading Recomendations

Join the conversation: watch The Last Days of Okak directed by Anne Budgell and Nigel Markham, and produced by the National Film Board of Canada. This short documentary tells the story of the once-thriving town of Okak, an Inuit settlement on the northern Labrador coast that was decimated by the deadly Spanish influenza during the world epidemic of 1919.