Grimsby Museum’s newest exhibit shines a spotlight on 1918 Spanish flu pandemic

·1 min read

A new exhibit in Grimsby Museum examines the 1918 Spanish influenza pandemic, one of the most devastating outbreaks in human history.

Through text panels, photographs and original artifacts, Grimsby Museum aims to teach visitors about the responses to the 1918 pandemic.

Although the exhibit was planned before COVID-19, the subject has taken on a new, profound relevance, and visitors will see similarities between the responses to both diseases.

Across Canada, around 55,000 people died of the 1918 Spanish flu, and Grimsby was not spared.

Research by Janet Cannon, the previous curator of Grimsby Museum, found that 18 deaths from the flu were reported in 1918.

Museum manager Janet Oakes said there were many parallels between the Spanish flu pandemic and the COVID-19 outbreak.

For instance, when the flu reached Grimsby, all non-essential services were closed, including schools and churches.

Various conspiracy theories and alternative therapies were touted across Canada, including the promotion of menthol cigarettes and light therapies to help fight the infection.

Canadians were also required to wear masks during the 1918 epidemic, though Oakes pointed out the consequences of not complying were much more severe.

“If you didn’t wear a mask, you’d go to jail,” she said.

Artifacts at the museum include a sick bed and cases of medicine that were used to help treat the infected.

Children will have a fun learning experience through various interactive exhibits, including a glitter-based activity that shows how germs spread, and an opportunity to craft their own germ.

The exhibition is partially funded by the Government of Canada and runs until May 5.

Admission is by donation.

Chris Pickles, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grimsby Lincoln News

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