International Leprosy Association -
History of Leprosy

  • International Leprosy Association -
    History of Leprosy


    British Columbia Archives


    Category Institutional Archive
    Organization British Columbia Archives
    Country Canada
    Address 675 Belleville Street, Victoria, BC, V8W 9W2, Canada
    Telephone +1 (250) 387-1952
    Fax +1 (250) 387-2072


    Material to do with leprosy in the British Columbia Archives can be located amongst the Correspondence of the Attorney General (1872-1937) the Department of Agriculture (1902-1956). These include records of the William Head Quarantine Station and dcuments regarding disease outbreaks in the records of the Provincial Health Officer (1924-1939).

    Material belonging to the collection of the Attorney General includes documents relating to the Leper Station on D’Arcy Island (1891-1902), its establishment and its maintenance. There is correspondence relating to the welfare of people detained on D’Arcy Island, recommending that sufferers be deported to China. There is a report to the Attorney General, Victoria, from C.J. Fagan, M.D., Secretary concerning Fagan’s visit to the lazaretto in New Brunswick, the number of patients, treatment, theories of origin and contagion, benefits of isolation, and expenses (13 December 1905).

    The records from the Canada Department of Agriculture which deal with the William Head Quarantine Station from 1902-1956 are available on microfilm. The Annual Reports cover from 1902 to1932.

    The Annual Report (1907) describes a visit to the lazaretto at Tracadie and also includes a description of how the quarantine station has taken charge of D’Arcy Island lazaretto. The 1908 report describes changes to the D’Arcy Island lazaretto and the repatriation of eight residents to the Presbyterian Mission at Canton, China. (Dr. Andrew Beattie is identified as the Canadian in charge of the Canton Mission.) Later others with the disease were sent back or went of their own initiative, to China and Japan, and D’Arcy Island continued to serve as a temporary residence for people with the disease until their passage booked. The 1909 report refers to the D’Arcy Island lazaretto serving for temporary detainment. The 1913 report mentions four Chinese lepers detained at D’Arcy Island, “while awaiting deportation under the Immigration Acts”.

    The 1918 report mentions the treatment of three Chinese patients progressing under Heisser treatment. It mentions that the difficulty of obtaining Gynecardate of Sodium from Sir Leonard Rogers of Calcutta and the change from administering Chaulmoogra oil by mouth to the use of injections.

    The report for 1922-23 refers to the use of ethyl esters of the acids of chaulmoogra oil supplied free from USFPHS in Honolulu and the use of Moogrol.

    The report for 1923-24 refers to the construction of new leper colony by the Dept. of Public Works on Bentinck Island to which lepers were moved on March 20, 1924. The lazaretto is described as segregating Chinese from white and male from female patients. The treatment is described as Moogrol, with 2% Iodine, and refined Chaulmoogra oil in capsule form. The number, nationality, and condition of leper patients and the number of positive and negative smears stained for M leprae are recorded.

    The 1925, 1926, 1927 reports on the lazaretto at Bentinck document the number and ethnicity of patients and their bacteriological classifications. The 1928 report mentions the use of Alepol, the new treatment prepared by Burroughs Welcome, made from Sir Leonard Rogers’s formula.

    This collection also contains a summary “History – Bentinck Island” concerning ownership of Bentinck Island and its lack of formal registration at the Victoria Land Registry Office. This includes copies of the early documents relating to the location of the lazaretto on D’Arcy Island (1906) and documents relating to the transfer of people from Darcy Island to Bentinck Island (1924).

    Amongst the records regarding disease outbreaks in the records of the Provincial Health Officer (1924-1939), there is correspondence relating to the circulation of information about leprosy amongst members of the medical profession. This includes correspondence concerning leprosy, submitted for criticism by C.P. Brown, Quarantine Officer at William Head. There is correspondence related to an exhibit at the Canadian Public Health Association meeting; papers and pamphlets by Dr. Hoffman on leprosy; Dr. Brown’s article dealing with leprosy; and correspondence from Dr. R.G. Cochrane.

    There is a report “Leprosy in Canada” (20 pages) which discusses the problem of leprosy in Canada, Dominion Government jurisdiction over leprosy, native vs. foreign leprosy, leprosy in New Brunswick reviewed by Dr. J.J. Heagerty in “Four Centuries of Medical History in Canada” (1928), leprosy history and cases in eastern and western provinces of Canada, a report to the Dominion Government in 1885 by Dr. J.C. Tache and Dr. A.C. Smith. The information related to leprosy in British Columbia includes the history of living conditions and treatment of patients, the table of admissions and discharges by year showing ethnicity/race, repatriation, death, and other notes. The analysis of the patients includes their occupation and the type of leprosy. There is also discussion about the need to combat the idea of the extreme infectivity of leprosy.

    Another report “Leprosy in Canada,” (4 pages) mentions that leprosy is the least infectious of the communicable diseases. It discusses government management of the disease, leprosy cases in Canada, symptoms (refers to photographs that are not included), treatment in Canadian hospitals, prevention.

    There are also the following published articles: Guenther Krueger, “The Lepers of Bentinck”, The Beaver, 69 (June/July 1989): 60-62; Ilma Salazar Gourlay. “D’Arcy Island, 1891-1907,” B.C. Historical News, 18.3 (1985): 7-10; and Ernest Hall, M.D., and John Nelson, “The Lepers of D’Arcy Island”, Victoria, BC, from Dominion Medical Monthly andOntario Medical Journal, 11.6 (1898).

    Entry created April 2002


    Name Gary A Mitchell, Provincial Archivist
    Organization British Columbia Archives
    Address British Columbia Archives, PO Box 9419, Stn PROV GOVT, Victoria, BC, Canada, V8W 9V1.
    Telephone +1 (250) 387-1952
    Fax +1 (250) 387-2072

    Go back to previous page.