On This Date: The first Vancouver victim of the 1918 influenza epidemic dies

The flu ward at Vancouver General Hospital, 1918

October 8, 1918

Annie Sachs and her family
Annie Sachs, likely the first victim of the Spanish flu in Vancouver, with husband Fred Jacobs and daughter Freda, circa 1910. Image from Findagrave.com.

The first victim in Vancouver of the 1918 influenza epidemic—Annie Sachs—a mother of three young children – died on October 8, 1918. By October 27, 1918, 24 people in Vancouver died in a single day. By the end of the year, Vancouver had buried more than 600 victims of the Spanish flu. 

The flu epidemic—often called the “Spanish flu”—ripped through Vancouver in 1918 with a blind fury that rivalled the march of senseless deaths of the First World War.  After three waves, the infection finally subsided. One-third of Vancouver’s 100,000 residents had the flu; more than 900 died. Across the globe, the flu took the lives of more than 50 million people.

Impact on Planning and Development in Vancouver

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Event: AFTERSHOCK – Looking back at 1918 for a view of Vancouver’s future

Event Details

Date: October 27, 2020
Time: 7:00-8:30-pm
Via: Zoom

Event Description

The first victim in Vancouver of the 1918 influenza epidemic—Annie Sachs—a mother of three young children – died on October 8, 1918. By October 27, 1918, 24 people in Vancouver died in a single day. Before the disease’s fury was spent, almost one per cent of Vancouver’s population had died.

In the following decade, Vancouver underwent extraordinary changes in urban planning, design and architecture as World War One ended, the economy shuddered, protests filled the streets and cities re-invented themselves.

A century later, Vancouver is once again grappling with the effects of a pandemic. The boundaries between past and present begin to blur when we look closely at what happened in 1918 and where we are now.

Linking the past to our future, the Vancouver City Planning Commission’s Chronology Project is holding a panel discussion 102 years after that heartbreaking day when the virus claimed so many lives – October 27, 2020 – to explore how the 1918 influenza changed Vancouver and whether we should anticipate similar changes in the months and years ahead. The panel is part of a VCPC series of discussions on the post-pandemic city.

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