Medical Records

Tuberculosis in Ontario

The Archives of Ontario has an online exhibit entitled Medical Records at the Archives of Ontario: Tuberculosis Records. As this exhibit notes, tuberculosis was once “a leading cause of death in the industrialized world.” In Ontario, public health efforts to control, if not eradicate, this disease involved the founding of numerous clinics and sanatoriums, the establishment of a Tuberculosis Case Register, and various public awareness campaigns, including a 1921 silent film, sponsored by the Ontario Provincial Board of Health, which carried the dire and didactic medico-moral message that it was “Her Own Fault,”

in which ‘the girl who fails in life’s struggles’ meets her downfall because of poor diet, late hours, and a penchant for fashion sales. She is soon hospitalized with tuberculosis, while her opposite, ‘the girl who succeeds,’ is promoted to forewoman at the factory.
How absolutely awful to assign such blame to the victims of tuberculosis. But interesting to note that in this 1921 film, factory work for a young woman (and even an ambition to the post of factory forewoman) was apparently depicted as something positive.

In my family tree, those who died of tuberculosis include my great-grandfather Arthur Joseph McGlade; my great-aunt Margaret Hilda Lahey; my 2x great-aunt Mary Ann Killeen; my 3x great-aunt Julia Moran; and my first cousin twice removed Charles Alexander Sullivan. The cause of death for these people (sometimes listed as “tuberculosis” or “pulmonary tuberculosis,” sometimes as “consumption”) is taken from the Ontario civil registration of their deaths.
The central subject of this haunting photograph is a man whose name I do not (yet) know. He was, as per the note on the back of the photograph, “Auntie Anne’s first husband,” and the photo was taken “at the sanatorium” (but which sanatorium? and where?), where he was obviously a patient. Click thumbnail to see larger image:
 mcglade_derouin_anne_firsthusband_sanatorium.jpg
Left to right: Delia Lucie Derouin; Jack (John Eugene) McGlade; Unknown; Anna Matilda Derouin. At a sanatorium, presumably in Ontario; late 1930s to mid-1940s?
Auntie Anne was Anna Matilda Derouin, the younger sister of my maternal grandmother Delia Lucie (Derouin) McGlade. Her second husband was a Walter (“Woddy”) McIlquham, whom I met as a child and who is associated in my mind with the town of Carleton Place (Lanark Co., Ontario). I did not know she had had a first husband until I came across the above photograph. My mother cannot recall his name, but thinks he died of tuberculosis.