A Very Remarkable Sickness: Epidemics in the Petit Nord, by Paul Hackett

By Paul Hackett

The zone among the nice Lakes and Lake Winnipeg, bounded at the north by way of the Hudson Bay lowlands, is typically often called the "Petit Nord." offering a hyperlink among the towns of jap Canada and the western inside, the Petit Nord was once a severe communique and transportation hub for the North American fur alternate for over 2 hundred years. even supposing new illnesses had first arrived within the New international within the sixteenth century, by means of the tip of the seventeenth century shorter transoceanic shuttle time intended a long way better variety of ailments survived the adventure from Europe and have been nonetheless capable of infect new groups. those acute, without delay transmitted infectious illnesses, together with smallpox, influenza, and measles, will be accountable for a enormous demise and could ceaselessly remodel North American Aboriginal groups. historic geographer Paul Hackett meticulously lines the diffusion of those ailments from Europe via crucial Canada to the West. major buying and selling gatherings at Sault Ste. Marie, the alternate carried in the course of the Petit Nord by means of Hudson Bay corporation ships, and the trip nexus on the pink River payment, all supplied major breeding floor for the advent, incubation and transmission of acute illness. Hackett's research of facts in fur-trade journals and oral historical past, mixed along with his examine of the diffusion behaviour and features of particular illnesses, yields a accomplished photograph of the place, whilst, and the way the spectacular effect of those epidemics used to be felt.

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Extra resources for A Very Remarkable Sickness: Epidemics in the Petit Nord, 1670-1846

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Finally, there were additional layers of complexity to this pattern of human geography in the Petit Nord that helped to favour or hinder the spread of epidemic disease in the region. The likelihood that a disease would be passed between neighbouring Aboriginal peoples within the region was by no means universal, and varied with a number of different factors beyond the season and the ecological environment they inhabited. While familial, political, and economic ties among some groups favoured diffusion in certain directions, there were also buffer zones, and even outright hostilities, between some bands that tended to hinder the progress of epidemics in others.

3 This pattern of frequent introductions from external sources of disease was repeated wherever the Spanish established bases of operation in the New World. For instance, at least twenty-five localized and eight widespread epidemics occurred in Guatemala between 1519-20 and 1632. Likewise, epidemics appear to have been common in Ecuador during the sixteenth century. In the more densely populated parts of New Spain, some of these afflictions became diseases of childhood. 4 The repeated reintroduction of afflictions from Europe and elsewhere and their circulation through colonial Spanish territories, combined with the eventual shift to endemicity in some more populous areas, meant that Mesoamerica soon developed into a potent disease pool.

Others fled northward to James Bay. As more and more people travelled into the area to the north and west of Lake Michigan, large refugee villages emerged of mixed affiliation, including key communities along the shores of Lake Superior. These villages proved vulnerable to the ravages of the Old World diseases, and no doubt the flood of people travelling from the east posed a significant risk for the spread of such disease. 43 These raids had a significant impact on the patterns of movement in eastern North America.

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