Timmins council to honour heroine from the last pandemic over 100 years ago

Timmins, Ont., city council is keeping a promise it made a century ago to commemorate the sacrifice of a nurse during the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918.

$300 was set aside for a memorial plaque in 1918, but was never spent

Laura Keon was a young nurse who died treating patients during the Spanish flu outbreak in Timmins in 1918. The town council at the time promised a plaque in her honour that is now being overseen by the current city council. (Facebook )

Timmins city council is taking care of some unfinished business from over a century ago.

It unanimously passed a motion Tuesday night to follow up on a motion the council at the time passed in 1918.

Some $300 was set aside back then for a memorial plaque for Laura Keon,  a young nurse from the Pembroke area who volunteered to treat patients in the northeastern Ontario community during the Spanish flu pandemic.

Keon contracted the virus and died in early November 1918. A memorial parade was held in downtown Timmins as her body was loaded onto a train to her final resting place. 

"She had quite a personality and became part of the camp. Was a vibrant, bright young woman, so people were very, very upset by her passing," said Timmins Museum curator Karen Bachman. 

She said Timmins and the rest of the Porcupine mining camp were hit hard by the flu, seeing community lockdowns and many council meetings cancelled, so it's not surprising the Keon plaque was lost as there were "more pressing concerns." 

"Because of where we sit now within the pandemic, perhaps now it's time to commemorate this young nurse who did her job in 1918," says Bachman.

There's no word yet on where in Timmins the Laura Keon will be installed. 

Laura Keon was a young nurse who died trying to treat people afflicted with a deadly virus. She'll now be honoured in Timmins with a plaque in her name. We have audio from Timmins city council and more information about who Laura Keon was from Karen Bachman, the director and curator of the Timmins Museum. 3:33


Erik White


Erik White is a CBC journalist based in Sudbury. He covers a wide range of stories about northern Ontario. Connect with him on Twitter @erikjwhite. Send story ideas to


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