INFLUENZA: The Spanish Flu in Smithers, 1918

"The Flu was upon us like a summer shower.  A new disease which spread rapidly and acted quickly, and a population more inclined to laugh at it than respect it." 

- The Omineca Daily Herald, Hazelton, November 22nd 1918.

Just over a century ago, a deadly virus swept across a world already devastated by the First World War. This virus, known as the “Spanish” Flu, eventually spread to every corner of the earth, infecting over 500 million people.

This virtual exhibit traces the path of the virus to Smithers, British Columbia, Canada. In 1918 this small community had no doctor or hospital of its own; the closest medical practitioner, Dr. Horace Wrinch, was based out of nearby Hazelton. This exhibit examines the impact of the virus on local settler and Indigenous communities, including the resulting push for a permanent doctor and hospital. We aim to showcase both the tragic suffering brought about by the disease, as well as the resilience and humanity demonstrated by the community in the face of this crisis.

INFLUENZA: The Spanish Flu in Smithers is based off the exhibit of the same name which was displayed at the Bulkley Valley Museum from April 2018 to August 2019. It features medical artifacts from the Museum's collection, excerpts from the Smithers Interior News and Hazelton's Omineca Herald, and other documents and photographs relating to the Spanish Flu Pandemic.

Select a link to your right to learn about the Spanish Flu worldwide, in Canada, and in Smithers, or check out our collection of early 20th-century medicines and doctors' equipment.