Nova Scotia Archives

Halifax and Its People / 1749-1999

Health

As Haligonians prepared to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the city's founding, Dr. Allan R. Morton, the Commissioner of Public Health and Welfare, wrote in The Official Bicentennial Guide Book 1949 that

Halifax is adequately supplied with Hospital and Health facilities. Dalhousie University, with the only medical school in the three Maritime Provinces, is situated here, and a number of hospitals are practically on the campus of the University. These hospitals are all utilized for teaching purposes, and this requires that the standard of our hospitals must be high, as the medical school is classed as Grade A.

The city's medical facilities then included the Victoria General Hospital (which began as the City Hospital in 1859), the Halifax Infirmary (begun in 1886 and operated by the Sisters of Charity), the Salvation Army's Grace Maternity Hospital (1898), the Children's Hospital (1909), the Tuberculosis Hospital (1921), the Halifax Hospital for Communicable Diseases (1928), Camp Hill Hospital (1917), and the Royal Canadian Naval Hospital at HMCS Stadacona. Across the harbour in Dartmouth was the Nova Scotia Hospital, founded in 1856 as Mount Hope Asylum. In addition to the Medical School at Dalhousie, begun in 1868, there was a Public Health Clinic (1924), a Pathology Laboratory and a Bacteriological Laboratory.

We often forget that basic survival was a challenge for every Nova Scotian in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In the late eighteenth century, for example, average life expectancy was 49 years; by 1981, some 200 years later, this had risen to 75 years. Allan Marble, writing about "Epidemics and Mortality in Nova Scotia, 1749-1799," reminds us that "Of the 4,348 persons who died in [the province] during the period 1780 to 1799, 1,328 are known to have been infants or children under the age of sixteen years. Thus 30.5 per cent of the deaths...during the period were of infants or children."

One hundred years later, infant and child mortality remained extremely high, even given the advances of Victorian medicine. The Dominion Census for 1881 listed (for the previous year, 1880) 662 deaths in the city and 507 deaths in the county. Those under 11 years of age accounted for 49.5% of deaths (city) and 48.9% (county). Of these, 19.8% and 17.9% respectively, were children under one year of age. The census reported causes of death by province-wide statistics, and the five leading causes of mortality in 1881 were consumption (tuberculosis; 15.9%), diphtheria (13.3%), lung disease (5.6%), old age (3.9%), and heart and blood diseases (3.1%).

Twenty years later, in 1901, the census listed only 836 deaths in the city and county combined. However, infant mortality was still high: 130 deaths (15.6%) were under one year of age. Additionally, 30.5% of the deceased were 14 or younger. The main killers in 1901 were tuberculosis (17.5%), senile debility (11.4%), bronchitis and pneumonia (11.2%), diseases of the heart (6.6%), and apoplexy and paralysis (5.9%). Diphtheria and croup accounted for 2.8% of all deaths.

In the half-century since the bicentenary in 1949, amalgamation, administrative rationalization and general progress in the treatment of various diseases have changed the face of medical facilities in the Halifax Regional Municipality — but the faces looking out at us from these earlier photographs are a reminder that the needs of those in distress and fear remain the same.


Results 1 to 6 of 6 from your search: Health


Ward 42, "Victoria General Hospital, Halifax, N.S., 1910"
Date: 1910
Photographer: Notman Studio
Reference no.: Notman Studio Nova Scotia Archives  no. 2027

Click for more information on this chapter.



"Halifax: Chauffeurs and Boy Scouts" and "Citadel Hill, Halifax: Pageant given in honor of return of Caravans", 1920
Date: 1920
Reference no.: Helen Creighton Nova Scotia Archives accession no. 1987-178 album 12 no. 19 & 25

Click for more information on this chapter.



"Children's Hospital", Group of Young Patients, Halifax, 1948
Date: 1948
Photographer: E.A. Bollinger
Reference no.: E.A. Bollinger Nova Scotia Archives accession no. 1975-305 1948 no. 4813-12

Click for more information on this chapter.



Immigrant Children with Red Cross Port Workers, Pier 21, Halifax, 1948
Date: 1948
Photographer: E.A. Bollinger
Reference no.: E.A. Bollinger Nova Scotia Archives accession no. 1975-305 1948 no. 4812-4

Click for more information on this chapter.



Immigrant Woman with Baby, Pier 21, Halifax, 1948
Date: 1948
Photographer: E.A. Bollinger
Reference no.: E.A. Bollinger Nova Scotia Archives accession no. 1975-305 1948 no. 4812-5

Click for more information on this chapter.



"Vaccinations", 1955
Date: 1955
Photographer: Maurice Crosby Photography Ltd.
Reference no.: Maurice Crosby Nova Scotia Archives accession no. 1997-254 vol. 003 no. 4-5

Click for more information on this chapter.


   Page 1 of 1: 1