Influenza in 1920

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, there was a significant influenza epidemic in Toronto one hundred years ago on Valentine’s Day. The Toronto Daily Star included several articles and ads related to this epidemic.

During the previous 24 hours, there were 26 new hospital admissions and seven deaths in hospital from the flu:


Nurses were at serious risk during the flu epidemic, as a total of 59 of them were ill from the disease.

One of the horrible tragedies of this strain of flu was that its victims tended to be in the prime of life: 


I assume that older people had encountered a related strain of flu earlier in their lives and therefore had partial immunity to this particular variety.

Things had gotten bad enough that the phone company discouraged people from making calls unless absolutely necessary:


And makers of bread and Shredded Wheat extolled the virtues of their products in the fight against disease:



The most unusual ad related to the flu was this one:


The Branston Generators were examples of violet ray devices, which were devices that applied electric current to the human body for supposedly therapeutic purposes. The Museum of Health Care at Kingston has one in their collection, and you can read the Branston Generator owner’s manual.

The Charles A. Branston Company continued manufacturing electrical devices of some form or another until at least 1955, though the Toronto city directory listing for them stopped mentioning violet ray devices after a while.

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