Coughs and Sneezes Spread Diseases - the Spanish Flu in Grey County

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A highly contagious disease spreading around the globe. Wearing masks, keeping a safe physical distance from others and isolating when sick. Frequent hand washing and disinfecting. Schools and businesses closed, social gatherings prohibited. But the year… 1918. And the dreaded disease? The Spanish Flu.

This new Grey Roots original mini-exhibit: Coughs and Sneezes Spread Diseases, explores the devastating impact of the 1918 global pandemic on citizens of Grey County.

Starting with the Spanish Flu’s mysterious origins, these panels detail the path of the virus from its unintended arrival in Canada, to the initial confusion surrounding its severity, to its painful human cost.

Coughs and Sneezes Spread Diseases also draws comparisons between the differences in responding to a global pandemic in 1918 and in 2020.

This in-house mini-exhibit will be open until May 2021.

The Wells family demonstrates the devastating effect the Spanish Flu had on families. William and Clara Wells had seven young children when William enlisted in the war. In October 1918, Clara caught the dreaded flu and passed away shortly after. The family was torn apart at Clara’s passing.  With their mother dead and their father still in Europe, the children were separated to be cared for by different local agencies and families. 

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