“Cooks, nurses, chauffeurs and errand boys”: Snapshots of the Spanish Influenza among Western Baptists

By Gordon L. Heath

Like Canadian Baptists in Central and Eastern Canada, churches of the Baptist Union of Western Canada (BUWC) faced severe hardships due to the “Spanish Influenza” sweeping across Canada and the globe.


The monthly newspaper called the Western Baptist provided commentary on the impact of the pandemic on BUWC local churches. And, as the commentary below indicates, the impact varied from congregation to congregation.​ The responses of the churches was impressive, with a wide variety of ministries offered to the suffering. The following is a brief snapshot of the churches during those dark days.

The church in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, attempted to “carry on through the period of the ban” through “visiting, and personal and circular letters.” The church’s finances took a blow due to no services being held, and the finance committee needed to send out notices to inform members where they could drop off money to keep the ministry afloat. The church was active in helping in the midst of the pandemic, with the “whole adult membership of the church…helping the sick in the capacity of cooks, nurses, chauffeurs and errand boys.” The pastor and his family did get sick, but “escaped lightly.” ​Ruth Morton Memorial Church in Vancouver was closed for weeks, with many members getting sick and a number dying. Many members acted as “volunteer nurses” tending to the needy in the church, and others worked in the city carrying out “Samaritan work” in hospitals and homes.

[Editor’s Note: The above is a section of a post that originally appeared on www.gordonlheath.com. To continue reading, visit the original post here.]

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Gordon L. Heath, PhD, is Professor of Christian History, holds the Centenary Chair in World Christianity, and is Director of the Canadian Baptist Archives, all at McMaster Divinity College, Hamilton, ON. He is also Secretary of the CBHS.

**The views of this Blog represent those of the author, and not necessarily the CBHS.**

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