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Covid Now - Consumption Then

· Nova Scotia,History,Consumption,Advertising,COVID-19

We are all getting so tired of living in a COVID world. A year and a half of suffering, death and lockdowns. How much longer will it go on? I would think that with a year, hopefully much, much sooner the scourge will be gone. And while this was a global illness, this musing will focus on Nova Scotia, actually a very specific part of Nova Scotia. And the topic is Consumption, or Tuberculosis (TB). And this too was a global illness, and this disease was not eradicated within several years, like COVID-19 will be, it was a leading cause of death for over a century around the globe, and it has still not completely gone away.

And many, many more Nova Scotians died of Consumption than will die during the current pandemic.

In June 2018, I walked into a used bookstore in Stellarton, NS, and I bought several books. I bought them in spite of the book seller stamping the name of the shop inside the front cover. People that do this have a complete disregard for the collectors market and they destroy value for some minimal marketing value. This, folks, is a minor rant.

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It’s Cause, Prevention, and Cure.

George H. Cox, M.D., Literary Editor
John W. MacLeod, Business Editor
Issued by

The Tri-County Anti-Tuberculosis League


Antigonish, Guysborough, and Pictou, Nova Scotia


Printed by EYRE and SPOTTISWOODE, Ltd.,

His Majesty’s Printers, East Harding Street, E. C., London

As indicated by the fact it was printed in London, by The King’s Printer, multiple versions of this book was created for use throughout the Empire. Each version would have local content. In this book, there is a Physician’s Directory for the 3 counties. In addition, see the photo, there is a listing of the 5 Anti-Tuberculosis Leagues in the 3 counties. Back in 1911, there was no province wide health authority, so these 3 counties managed their own health system.

Much of the local content, is in the introduction and early chapters, where is was stated that in the previous year, 1910, the number of deaths were Pictou – 65; Antigonish – 38; Guysborough– 27; in total 140. A little research uncovered the fact that in 1908, the death rate in Nova Scotia was 208 per 100,000 population and this declined down to 10.9 by 1953. The average for the period 1911 to 1915 was 178 deaths per 100,000 population. The Population of Nova Scotia per the 1911 Census was 492,338 so total deaths per year were 876. To reflect today’s population of almost 1,000,000 the total number of deaths would be roughly 1,750 per year! That is very, very scary.

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The above graphic that is from the generic body of the text demonstrates how the disease is spread. Stop Spitting! Or at least, use a spittoon. I wonder if masks would have been of assistance some one hundred years ago?

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And this graphic shows us Consumption’s allies – starting with intemperance and other excesses. Well, we have learnt that lesson well. The sale of alcoholic beverages reached new highs in Nova Scotia during the COVID-19 Pandemic. And avoid Overwork. Yep, onto that one as well.

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Back to local content. The book is full of local advertising. I would think this is how the publication cost is being offset, at least partially. The ad depicted above for Bell’s Drug Store, New Glasgow, does link to the subject of the book but most of the advertisements are your typical run of the mill adverts, except they provide an interesting overview of organizations, in the 3 counties, from a century ago. They are quite fascinating, and I wish I could show another 30 photos. Here is a partial listing of some of them:


  • University of St. Francis Xavier’s College
  • A. Kirk & Co, General Merchants
  • Wilkie and Cunningham, Goods of the very Best Material
  • Fraser’s Shoe Store
  • Haley’s Cash Market, Groceries
  • J.R. Hellyer, Watchmaker, Jeweller and Optican
  • Merrimac Hotel
  • Nova Scotia Knitting Mills, Ltd. “Wear Eureka Unshrinkable Underwear”

New Glasgow

  • The 2 Barkers, ltd., Groceries, Tinware and Graniteware
  • Bent &Cohoon, Carriage hardware, Blacksmiths’ supplies
  • Francis Drake, Vinegars, Jersey Crème (made and bottled under the most approved hygienic conditions
  • Fanjoys, Good clothing. Higgins and Company, Shoe service
  • Layton & Beck, High-class dry goods
  • Munro Wire Works, Ltd., Ornamental steel fencing
  • Pictou County Electric Co. Ltd., Use electricity to lighten your home
  • Torry’s Book Store
  • J. W. Fraser, Road and Farm harness
  • The Lake Copper Mining Company Ltd., Invest your money at home
  • Joseph Stewart, Sanitary engineer, plumber
  • Nova Scotia Steel & Coal Co., Limited, “Sydney” coal


  • A. C. Baillie & Co., Staple and dry goods
  • D. Logan & Co., Pure food
  • J. A. Stalker & Co., Groceries, china, crockery


  • Acadia Coal Company, Ltd.
  • A. E. Hayman, Steel ranges – the Housekeeper’s delight
  • Humphreys Glass Co., Ltd., Lamp chimneys and lantern globes


  • Intercolonial Coal Mining Co., Ltd., Coal, coke, fireclay, fire brick
  • R. H. MacKay Company, Ltd., Men’s wearables
  • John McQuarrie, The shrewd house furnisher

Truro (outside of the 3 counties)

  • Agricultural College