title page

The Cholera Beacon: Being a Treatise on the Epidemic Cholera as it Appeared in Upper Canada in 1832-4.
Dundas, 1835
616.932 S744 \B BR
title page.

Cholera epidemics struck Toronto in 1832 and again in 1834, brought by waves of emigrants. Cholera, an acute infectious disease caused by contaminated water or food, was little understood at the time as to either its cause or treatment. About 1,000 people died in the two outbreaks. There could hardly have been a family who was not affected in some way.

letter page 1

A Letter from Lawrence Bostwick to Isaac Lundy [Postmaster at Newmarket, Ont.]
Newmarket, 1834
2 pages

“Toronto August 15th 1834
(Read this to yourself before you read it loud)

... Dear Grandmother Your Son is no more – My father was seized night before last with the Cholera and in 14 hours was in his grave. He died happy and resigned

... the times are truly awful – our friends are dying all around us ...”

letter page 2

Pencil Sketch of Old Hospital, built in 1819, located on the northwest corner of King & John Streets.

Such was the number of immigrants with cholera being treated at the hospital that sheds had to be erected adjacent to the hospital to house patients.

General Board of Health.

1832. Board of Health

Click here or on the image to the left to see an 1832 broadside of the minutes of the General Board of Health’s meeting of June 26th, which records that a shed for the “reception of emigrants” be constructed as well as another hospital.


Front St. West, looking northwest from Front & Simcoe Streets. 1834
Coloured photo of watercolour by John George Howard
JRR 826

The provincial Parliament buildings may be seen at the right with immigrant sheds at the extreme left.

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Source: Special Collections, Toronto Public Library.