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A Darkened House: Cholera in Nineteenth-Century Canada by Geoffrey Bilson

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Dr William Lyons resigned from his post because of interference from the board, and the running of the hospital passed into the hands of a matron who abused the staff and robbed the dead. Dr Van Iffland recorded his experiences, which suggest some of the difficulties hospital staff faced, especially early in the epidemic. For the first two weeks he worked without taking off his boots, and 'when he did, the flesh adhered to the sole leather/ Overwhelmed by the numbers of patients, van Iffland found it almost impossible to keep the staff at work.

At this time, the ban on travel to Upper Canada was in effect and the committee asked Aylmer for money and the use of tents or government barracks to house the immigrants held up in Montreal. The executive suggested that the £500 allocated to the Montreal Emigrant Society should be applied to the relief work and it sent a further £300 for supplies for widows and orphans. 32 With this support the committee set to work. It had two sheds built at Ogilvie's Point on land owned by the Grey Nuns. It rented a store in town to house immigrants.

In Quebec, the residents of St Roche and St John petitioned for a reward for Jacques Hamel, a blacksmith who had given up his forge to help cholera victims. He had worked among the indigent and the working classes. 15 There were no doubt other men and women who did what Hamel had done. The clergy, too, did what they could to help the sick. During the epidemic, the seminaries were closed to free the clergy for this work. The search for help and comfort led many of the poor of Montreal to Stephen Ayres.

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