Next PANSOC Webinar

Esyllt Jones, University of Manitoba, will present: “Contested Concepts of Borders and Containment in the Great Influenza Pandemic Era in Canada” on 17 November at 1600 CET. Contact for a link.

In Canada, as in other constitutionally federal systems, the response to pandemic influenza was highly decentralized and variable. Local-level tensions emerged over spatial boundaries and containment, and public trust in non-pharmaceutical interventions could not be assumed. In the post-pandemic era, public health searched for a new paradigm. The pandemic strengthened a shift from compulsion to cooperation. However, diverse public perceptions of what a functioning public health system should accomplish and how revealed those struggles over legitimacy and authority that characterize major disease outbreaks historically, including COVID-19. What were the ‘lessons’ of the pandemic? Whether and in what ways the 1918-1920 influenza pandemic shaped public health and disease containment over the longer term is still in many ways an unanswered question.


Esyllt W. Jones (PhD, FRSC) is the Humanities Research Professor in the Faculty of Arts, and Professor in the Departments of History and Community Health Sciences, at the University of Manitoba. She is a historian of infectious disease and society, and the history of movements for socialized medicine. Her books include Influenza 1918: Disease, Death and Struggle in Winnipeg (2007), Epidemic Encounters: Influenza, Society and Culture in Canada (2012) edited with Madga Fahrni, and Radical Medicine: the International Origins of Socialized Health Care in Canada (2019). The volume Medicare’s Histories: Origins, Opportunities, and Omissions in Canada, edited with James Hanley and Delia Gavrus, was released in June 2022.

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