Claiming the Wilderness
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Claiming the Wilderness
New France in the 18th Century
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The influenza epidemic
The winter of 1702 was terrible.
An influenza epidemic broke out in Montreal. More than 10 per cent of the population died and many Indians. Jeanne-Françoise Juchereau, was the superior of the Hôtel-Dieu in Quebec, and her hospital was overwhelmed.

"A great many died," recounted further the superior of the Hôtel Dieu, "to whom nothing was lacking, and fear was mixed in with their affliction, several of them died of fear, for on their body there was no trace of small pox... There were so many deaths that the priests were unable to bury the dead and minister to the dying, and bodies were brought every day to the church and in the evening they were buried together, sometimes fifteen, sixteen or eighteen at a time. That lasted several months, and more than 2,000 deaths were registered on the death rolls in Quebec alone, without speaking of the surrounding region."

Governor de Callières and members of the colony's government and merchants died.

"All these deaths are upsetting trade in this country, because of the many debts left behind by the dead merchants, almost all unredeemable," François de Beauharnois declared to his minister on April 27, 1703.

The gloomy toll of the bells was heard so often that ringing them was finally forbidden.


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