Bonus Features: 19th-century NIMBYism and the Typhus Epidemic in Ontario

Before diving into this post, please read the related TVO article.

The coverage of the court case in the October 6, 1847 edition of the British Whig against Kingston city officials for allowing the emigrant sheds to obstruct traffic is dense, so here are some highlights.

british whig 1847-10-06 complaint about sheds 1 opinion

First off, the paper’s opinion, which praises the efforts of the city officials, and references the recent death of Toronto bishop Michael Power.

The indictment contained four counts: obstruction of Emily Street by erecting a building upoin it; the “erection of privies, near that street and near King Street, and also near the waters of the harbour, to the nuisance of all persons in the street, or dwelling in the adjacent houses, and whereby the waters which were generally used by the neighbourhood became unfit for use;” erecting emigrant sheds near King Street, filling them with the sick and dead to the nuisance of all; and that the sheds were built by unknown people and emigrants and assembled on site.

british whig 1847-10-06 complaint about sheds 1 nimby testimony

A sampling of complaints, including the NIMBY I quoted in the article (a John P. Bower, Esq.).

The defence attacked several of the complainants, while holding up the noble aims of the city officials offering assistance to the emigrants. For example:

The Baron de Rottenburg, who bears no love to Emigrants, had to board the west windows of his house to keep away an imaginary infection; and, more serious than this, the amiable Baroness had to make liberal use of lavender water, and was put to the unendurable trouble of placing scent bottles to her fastidious nostrils. To be sure, the great inconvenience which the noble Baron and Baroness have sustained, is of more consequence and greater weight, than if thousands of these pooe Irish Emigrants should die for want, with hunger, and disease.

Kind of reminds you of arguments surrounding relaunching the economy versus preventing potential deaths, doesn’t it?

british whig 1847-10-06 verdict 1

british whig 1847-10-06 verdict 2

The verdict. Note that while the defendants were judged guilty, the jury appreciated their conduct.

packet 1847-07-17 medical advice about typhus 400px

From the July 17, 1847 edition of the Bytown Packet (which evolved into the Ottawa Citizen), advice on how to prevent catching infectious fevers like typhus.

bc 1847-07-20 grasett obit

An editorial eulogizing Dr. George Grasett, from the July 20, 1847 edition of the British Colonist.

bc 1847-10-05 power obit 1bc 1847-10-05 power obit 2

Portions of Michael Power’s obituary from the October 5, 1847 edition of the British Colonist.

the times 1847-10-30 power obit 500

Power’s death was noted on the other side of the Atlantic, in pieces such as this roundup of the typhus situation from the October 30, 1847 edition of the Times.