Little Current woman relates historical smallpox tale

Many thousands of lives were saved by a determined woman

To the Expositor:

After my article was published, I received a few phone calls thanking me for writing it.  I did have a further conversation with a gentleman and in our conversation, I told him about our last smallpox epidemic in Quebec. In conclusion of our talk, he urged me to write another article about it. Please, please he said, so many of us do not know these stories. Here is the story of a smallpox epidemic in Montreal as told by Google.

In 1885 an employee from the Grand Trunk Railway arrived in Montreal carrying smallpox. Immediately people were told to get vaccinated and a building was designated to give the vaccine. A conspiracy theory popped up saying it was intended to harm them. A mob of 2000 descended on the building, howling death to the vaccinators. They completely destroyed the building, flattened it right to the ground. Smallpox spread like wildfire, 3,259 dead in Montreal and 5,964 across the Province. Mandatory vaccination was declared. I was never curious as to the origins of vaccinations but with all this controversy regarding to vaccinate or not, I looked up the origins of vaccinations. But I did know about Edward Jenner and how he made a better method of introducing vaccines in our arm.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered the true discoverer was lost in the mist of time but the one who bought it to the West was a British woman by the name of Mary Wortly, wife of the Ambassador to Turkey. She herself was a survivor of smallpox and was left disfigured. While in Turkey she met a woman, who said they never got smallpox because they knew how to prevent it. Mary had her children inoculated. A small cut on the arm and a drop of smallpox pus was put in. When Mary returned to England, she told one and all about it and was immediately called names. Ignorant woman and other nasty names. But there were intelligent people who knew it made sense and went ahead and vaccinated their family and friends.

Because of Mary, thousands and thousands of lives have been spared from death, paralysis and disfigurement. The eradication of deadly diseases has to be one of mankind’s greatest achievement.

Denise Organ
Little Current