The centenary of the onset of Spanish Flu seems a propitious time to break a local silence. The Great Pandemic happened here too, and it was followed by a Great Forgetting.*
* Local narrative voices have been heard from time to time. Michael Halleran has given graveyard tours under the auspices of the Old Cemeteries Society. University of Victoria (UVic) student Gary Sarian published an essay, “The 1918 Flu Epidemic in Victoria,” in B.C. Historical News, Fall 1992.
Could a local memorial to those slain by the Spanish Flu possibly be timely, after a century? “Better late than never” is the philosophy guiding this research.
I am an amateur historian with an interest in my home town, Victoria, and its regional setting on Vancouver Island and the Salish Sea.
For geographic and historical orientation, see Victoria during the Spanish Flu.
The present study began as part of a four-person team project in an undergraduate History course at UVic in 2014. The product of that effort was a website, Spanish Influenza in Victoria 1918-20. (It is no longer accessible.) Professor John Lutz instructed the students in a precept of so-called microhistory: to seek the universal in the local. In the influenza pandemic of 1918-1920, the work of the local historian and the genealogist — compiling local statistics, reconstructing local narratives, naming hitherto unnamed victims and telling untold stories — intersects with world-historic events so vast they can be only dimly glimpsed.
This new website builds on the elements of the UVic website for which I was responsible. The local history of the influenza pandemic is presented in three parts (II, III and IV), bracketed by contextual overviews (much yet to be published):
I. The origin, spread and characteristics of Spanish Flu
II. Victoria, BC, Canada, during the Spanish Flu pandemic
III. How Victoria fared: a statistical overview
IV. Memorials of the victims
V. A new historiography of the Spanish Flu
This site is under construction; it has many holes, and anything you read here is liable to change.