by Sylvie Tremblay, Library and Archives Canada
The creation of the quarantine station on Grosse-Île
did not have unanimous support. Physicians' opinions were divided on the subject
of how cholera was spread and on the care to be given to its victims. Some claimed
that the disease could not cross the ocean; others doubted their ability to recognize
its symptoms, and accordingly, their ability to limit the magnitude of the epidemic.
In 1832, with the resumption of the navigation season
and high levels of immigration, there were fears that the disease would emerge.
On June 9, the first cases of cholera were reported in the city of Québec.
The quarantine station became rapidly overcrowded, and the administrators of the
port of Québec decided to allow ships that were not transporting Irish
immigrants to pass through, so that they could arrive directly at Québec.
Doubtless, Canadians associated the disease exclusively
with the Irish, rather than recognizing the true causes of the epidemic: overcrowding
and poor sanitary conditions on the ships. This decision would have disastrous