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The Cholera Epidemic of 1832

In the summer of 1832, Hamiltonians watched nervously as a cholera epidemic traveled across the Atlantic deep within the holds of emigrant ships. As a busy port where many new settlers arrived each week, Hamilton was especially vulnerable to an outbreak of the plague. Fearing disaster, community leaders, local health officials, and the public resolved to make Hamilton as healthy as possible. During their cleaning frenzy, they praised personal hygiene, and they scrubbed, disinfected, and cleared away garbage from their homes, yards, streets, and outhouses. Access to public meetings, circuses, and theatres was restricted. The gravely ill were shuttled to an abandoned 1812 army barracks on Burlington Heights, which became Hamilton’s first hospital. And the dead were quickly covered in quicklime before being buried. Doctors frantically prescribed a number of remedies in the hopes of curing, or at the very least, alleviating the suffering of cholera victims. Still, the illness spread and the death toll mounted. Nighttime was haunted by the mournful cry of “Bring out your dead! Bring out your dead!” As autumn approached and the days grew cooler, the crisis passed, leaving the community shaken but determined to persevere. For more information click here.

Source: Hamilton Waterfront Trust