Date of Award


Publication Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name





History, Canadian.


Pryke, Kenneth G.,




Local area studies are undertaken mainly for two reasons: to demonstrate a common situation, or to explain an anomaly. In the case of Essex County in 1871, the circumstances were similar to other counties in Ontario, and yet there was a situation which was not encountered in the areas with which it could be compared. In that year there was an epidemic of scarlet fever in Essex County which claimed 124 lives. While there are several factors which could produce the occurrence of an epidemic, there was only one which was responsible for the outbreak in this region. This one factor, which was not found in any of the other counties studied, was the close, daily contact between the residents of Essex County and the City of Detroit. Scarlet fever is a bacterial infection which is highly contagious, and therefore opportunities for contact condition the prevalence of its incidence. In Essex County approximately 22 percent of the deaths recorded on the 1871 Census were due to scarlet fever, a number higher than in any other county that year. An integral part of studying the epidemic is understanding the context within which it occurred; a context which included nineteenth century social conditions, prevailing attitudes toward death and illness, and the various medical and scientific theories which were followed. The counties of Waterloo North, Bruce South, Simcoe North, and Welland were studied for comparison of conditions and were found to have been similar to Essex County. The one factor present only in Essex was the intimate link to Detroit. It was this link, then, that was likely responsible for the outbreak of scarlet fever in 1871. The significance of the situation in Essex County is that if similar conditions were found to occur elsewhere, the same situation could arise.Dept. of History, Philosophy, and Political Science. Paper copy at Leddy Library: Theses & Major Papers - Basement, West Bldg. / Call Number: Thesis1994 .S646. Source: Masters Abstracts International, Volume: 33-04, page: 1130. Supervisor: Kenneth G. Pryke. Thesis (M.A.)--University of Windsor (Canada), 1994.