Monday, September 15, 2008

Leprosy in New Brunswick? Did you know that in Tracadie New Brunswick ,there used to be a place called Lazaret? Many of you probably heard of this disease in poor countries, but Tracadie would be remembered because of this awful disease. What could be the origin of this disease that struck the acadian peninsula? One story is that around 1812 a ship from the Mediteranean sea entered the port of Caraquet and some sailors were carriers of the disease and fraternized with the villagers. Among these Ursule Landry became the first victim to have Leprosy. She died in Tracadie in 817. She probably caught it by washing the sailors clothing and getting infected.
Another story told was that the disease was brought over by two Norwegian deserters of the Norway Leprosy Colony.And it would have been Alexis Landry of Caraquet who would have taken them aboard his vessel in Quebec and dropped them off at Maisonette and they worked their way up the Miramichi. Along their journey they would have stopped in Tracadie for a short while where in one way or another they would have contaminated some of the settlers.
Others believe that leprosy first appeared in northeastern New Brunswick where
a French Ship called Indian de Morlaix was docked in Miramichi in 1758. The Acadians who came in contact with them would have caught the disease. In 1842 Robert Cooney could still notice some parts of the ship in Baie du Vin.
Thus Leprosy became very active ,especially in Tracadie. Poor diet, and unsanitary conditions were a strong contribution to micro organisms of Leprosy.
For about twenty years the people ignored this disease and considered it as a rampant sickness. The lepers continued living among the villagers without receiving the adequate care they needed. It was the responsibility of the Commisioner of the Poor to feed and supply them with wood for heat.
In 1844 the provincial government voted on an act to prevent the spread of a disorder now existing in certain parts of the counties of Gloucester and Northumberland. They decided to build a Lazaret on Sheldake Island at the mouth of the Miramichi. So many of the ones with Leprosy were forced to leave their homes and family and go live at the Lazaret. It was hard on them living on that island ,isolated from their families and in 1849 thanks to Abbe LaFrance the lazaret was moved to Tracadie. James Young of Tracadie received the contract to build the Lazaret,Philias Losier and his wife became the gardians of the building for a salary of 60 pounds a year. They were in charge of the meals for the lepers, mostly bread and potatoes. And they were in charge of the visitors that would be allowed to visit. In 1852 the Lazaret caught fire and burned so they had to build another one. "The new lazeretto with its collection of low white washed cabins,a story and a half high made a melancholy picture. They hired a doctor LaBillois to take care of the sick and it soon became clear that Dr LaBillois had commited several children and adults who had no symptoms of leprosy merely for the purpose of making it appear as if he had succeeded in finding a cure. He had to quit his post. Another doctor from Bathurst took over the job, but he only came about six times a year, and the lepers were abandoned and locked up like caged animals. People were not going to Tracadie very much, they shunned it because of leprosy. Later on the nuns came and took over with taking care of them.
Very sad story. It must have been devastating for the ones with the disease and also for their love ones. I found this information in the book Tracadie
Well I do hope you enjoyed reading today's blog, sometimes we learn things that we did not know. I for one did not know much about the Tracadie Lazaret, I knew that there had been one, but knew little else about it.
Well thank you very much for the lovely visit, do come again.
Have a great day

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think the name of the island was Sheldrake not Sheldake.