[Spirit of Pestilence: The 1982 Smallpox Epidemic in Victoria]

The Epidemic

In March of 1862, a miner brought smallpox from San Francisco to Victoria, British Columbia. The disease spread quickly, especially among Native people. The government of the day soon forced Natives to leave the city, which caused the disease to spread throughout many parts of British Columbia.

The Documents

From Victoria, some men watched and recorded the progress of the epidemic. An examination of documents they created gives us information on the epidemic itself. These documents also reveal a lot about the attitudes of the colonists, particularly those of the upper class white men who tended to write newspaper articles, reports, and memoirs.


The Website

This site examines these documents, focusing on what they show about the pre-existing attitudes that shaped the way colonists viewed the devastating effect of the epidemic.




Overview and Timeline

Virus and Vaccination

Colonists and Contradictions




Press and Propaganda

Missionaries and Misery

Doctors and Diagnosis

Government and Gunboats


This site produced in conjunction with History 481 (University of Victoria) © 2002
By Elaine Moore, Anna-Marie Krahn, and Claudia Lorenz
Last updated March 30, 2002

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