Cholera Hits Brockville (1832)

During the summer of 1832 Brockville residents were faced with Canada’s largest cholera epidemic.  Newspaper articles from the time reveal some insight into how Brockville fared.  Much of the reporting is not unlike today's reporting on the spread of the COVID-19, with regular tallies of cases. (Click on images to expand)

Reproduced drawn map of Brockville 1833, showing Cholera Hospital on today's Blockhouse Island
Reproduced drawn map of Brockville 1833, showing Cholera Hospital on today's Blockhouse Island

Cholera is an acute infectious disease of the intestines, acquired by consuming contaminated water or food and causing extreme diarrhea leading to dehydration and kidney failure. It was brought to Canada in 1832 on ships carrying immigrants from Britain. Brockville was only just incorporated in 1832, empowered to establish a Police Board.

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Brockville Gazette: June 28, 1832
Brockville Gazette: June 28, 1832

It was the newly formed Police Board that was tasked with saving the lives of its citizens. They gathered medicines, beds, and nurses and declared themselves prepared “if it pleases God to visit us with any more attacks”. The Brockville Police Board appointed Alexander Grant as Health Officer to supervise a team of 11 special constables. The town’s physicians were formed into a Board of Health and directed to visit Brockville homes to ensure that the town was clean.

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"New" Brockville Waterworks c1960
"New" Brockville Waterworks c1960

In 1892 when the threat of a cholera epidemic re-emerged, residents abandoned their wells and switched to water from the municipal waterworks; but until the “new” waterworks was built in 1960, the only way to ensure “clean” water year after year was to extend the intake pipe further and deeper out into the river.

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Reproduced drawn map of Brockville 1833, showing Cholera Hospital on today's Blockhouse Island
Reproduced drawn map of Brockville 1833, showing Cholera Hospital on today's Blockhouse Island

Cholera is an acute infectious disease of the intestines, acquired by consuming contaminated water or food and causing extreme diarrhea leading to dehydration and kidney failure. It was brought to Canada in 1832 on ships carrying immigrants from Britain. Brockville was only just incorporated in 1832, empowered to establish a Police Board.

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