Rural Medicine

Allan Gillis contributed this fascinating insight into a time before modern medicine: “I know diphtheria and consumption (TB) were greatly feared by people in rural Cape Breton and many perished from both. In the early 1900s, a house would be “flagged” when diphtheria or anything similar struck. A colored sign of sorts would be put on the farm gate and no one was allowed to enter. Kindly neighbors would often bring food or grocery necessities as far as the fence and leave them for the afflicted family to pick up.

If someone died before the disease had run its course with the rest of the family they would have to be buried on the farm or, if the father was healthy enough, he would have to transport the body to the graveyard, dig the grave, and then bury the body – all by himself, with no priest or any ceremony at all. This happened to many families in those days.”
[Source: Allan Gillis]