Nelson in 1918: Christmas shopping starts early due to Spanish flu epidemic

Greg Scott brings us highlights from Nelson Daily news from December, 2018

By Greg Scott

Excerpts from the Nelson Daily News in December, 1918

Dateline: Dec. 4, 1918

As a result of the business depression due to the epidemic of Spanish influenza indications point to Christmas shopping being done this year earlier than in previous years, according to city merchants. It is pointed out that citizens who have been at their homes by quarantine or illness have taken the first opportunity to get out and consequently are making their holiday purchases before the usual time. That business was better last week than it has been for several months was the consensus of opinion yesterday. The signing of the armistice is thought by some to have created a rush of early Christmas buying. One merchant states that he is looking for a stronger Christmas trade this year than in any one since the beginning of the war.

Dateline: Dec. 17, 1918

That the city churches will be opened on and after next Sunday for services providing the required permission is granted by the Provincial Board of Health, was the effect of a resolution passed at a meeting of the city council last evening. Everyone must wear masks.

A letter was read from Rev. Father Althoff in which he said that many other places with inferior ventilation were open in the city for six days in the week and he considered churches should be opened. Another letter stated that the ban should not be lifted until all danger was over. Dr. Isobel Arthur, medical health officer, said that the council had heard two contrary requests and that it was hard to decide what was the best thing to do but that personally she was in favour of opening the churches providing that everyone wore a mask.

The precaution has been found efficient during the epidemic. The opening of the churches would be a step toward the general lifting of the ban, she stated, and if no bad effects were noticed as a result of this action, the picture shows might be opened next and the schools in early January. It would be much safer if we open gradually, she said. In other places when they had opened up all at once much time had been eventually lost through a fresh outbreak of the epidemic, which caused a second closing up.

Dateline: Dec. 26, 1918

With the influenza ban prohibiting the normal gatherings in the city, Christmas day passed quietly. The weather was clear and cold and the only visible stir was those who were seen on the streets. At the Hume Hotel the usual holiday dinner was held and a large number of citizens attended. Pretty decorations made the dining room attractive and the menu was of its usual high class Christmastide variety.

The absence of dancing did not appear to draw away from the number of the dinner guests. Hotel Strathcona was the popular eating place of many who either preferred to dine out or were unable to be at home. The menu was well prepared and many comments were made on the splendid decorations placed about the dining room by the management.

During the afternoon skaters found places on the lake to skate and with keen ice many found it a good place for merry making.

Dateline: Dec. 27, 1918

A letter carried on the first airplane mail trip between New York and Chicago has been received in this city by Miss Kathryn Kautz. It left New York on Dec. 18 at 6 o’clock in the morning, going to Chicago and came from that city to Nelson by rail, arriving here on Dec. 23. The stamp affixed to the envelope carries a picture of an airplane and costs six cents, the postage rate by airplane route.

Dateline: Dec. 31, 1918

Today marks the end of the most eventful year in modern history. Nineteen hundred and eighteen will go down into the ages as the conclusive year of victory for democracy. There were times in the early part of the year when the almost daily changing battleline made it hard to see promise of the Hun’s defeat. The artillery achievement of the Boche in bombarding Paris from a distance of 72 miles by means of a powerful long range gun though unimportant in itself, seemed to mark the crisis.

The arrival of American troops gave encouragement as well as some reinforcement to the war-weary troops on the field. Tomorrow night, when the bells ring out the old and ring in the new, it will be ushering in of a new era – an era of victorious peace – for which the world must thank those who died so freedom might live.

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