The feature photograph of this collection, showing students being vaccinated against polio in the 1950s, illustrates the culmination of a concerted effort to eradicate a debilitating disease that had affected Canada since the early 1900s (Canadian Public Health Association). While this photograph is from the BC Archives Photograph Collection editions of the Ubyssey from this time document advances in Polio research and frequently contain announcements of polio vaccinations being held on campus. Shortly before this period, treatment of polio could lead to the patient experiencing a full recovery. As polio often makes it difficult to breath, iron-lungs were an essential tool in successful treatment (Haynes, 2006).


Vaccination and successful treatment did not necessarily end the troubles presented by polio. Those who recover from polio may experience post-polio syndrome years later. The following photograph, from UBC Reports, shows researchers at the UBC School of Rehabilitation Medicine assisting a patient with post-polio syndrome to perform leg exercises to help recover her ability to walk.

Researchers at the UBC School of Rehabilitation Medicine help a woman suffering from post-polio syndrome with leg exercises, 1987. Further details are available in the full article.


Cholera is another condition that has affected people globally for almost two centuries (World Health Organization 2019). Open Collections contains accounts of cholera outbreaks throughout the world, and especially in the settlement of the western parts of the Americas. BC Historical Books is a good collection for exploring these first hand accounts; where the disease hits swiftly and often with deadly effect. BC Historical Newspapers also provides “in the moment” stories of outbreaks and their effects locally and around the world. By the time the following report was published in the BC Sessional Papers, it was clearly understood that contaminated drinking water was a major vector for the spread of the disease.


Other reports from the BC Sessional Papers indicated a risk of infection disease being transmitted to the province through increased international steamship traffic to the province. Indeed, there are accounts throughout Open Collections of ships and their passengers being quarantined, either at sea or designated quarantine stations. Ensuring overseas passengers were vaccinated against infectious diseases was another precaution taken. The Chung Collection contains numerous vaccination cards of overseas passengers as well as travel and immigration regulation pamphlets from steamships.


Of course, in the times of COVID-19, it’s hard to talk about infectious diseases without considering the 1918-19 flu pandemic. The BC Sessional Papers again are a good source for reports on the state of the epidemic, including the 1920 Report of the Provincial Board of Health, which includes statistics on the pandemic and especially its devastating effect on the indigenous people of British Columbia. More concise information on the flu pandemic in British Columbia can be found in the journal BC Historical News, 1992, 25(4) including the ever appreciated photograph of people wearing masks. BC Historical Newspapers contains frequent reports on the state of the pandemic, but perhaps more intriguingly, also has advertisements for products promising relief from the flu.

Advertisement for Minard’s Linament, promising relief from the flu, in the 1922-03-17 edition of the Creston Review. Gin Pills were another popular remedy for kidney troubles following a bout with the flu.


Finally, no article on disease in British Columbia, however brief, would be complete without mention of the devastating effect of smallpox on the province in its early history. Although the disease ravaged the province on many occasions, the 1862 smallpox epidemic remains the most infamous for the horrific death toll it inflicted on the province’s Indigenous inhabitants. BC Historical Books Collection contains many eye-witness accounts of this epidemic. One example is from “Blazing the trail through the Rockies : the story of Walter Moberly and his share in the making of Vancouver”, where Walter Moberly recounts several encounters with Indigenous people and entire villages suffering from the disease as he traveled along the Cariboo Road in 1862. We will leave you with the first section of this account, which can be read in its entirety by following the link provided with the image.

Account by Walter Moberly of an encounter with an Indigenous person suffering from smallpox in 1862. The passage can be read in its entirety here (page 47 on, page 55 on the carousel):

Works Cited

Canadian Public Health Association. “The Story of Polio” Accessed October 8, 2020 <>.

Haynes, Sterling. 2006. “Frontier Medicine in the Chilcotin Region of B.C.” In British Columbia History, 39(1), 10-11. <>

Foster-Sanchez, Maria., Spaulding, William B. 2020. “Smallpox in Canada”. In The Canadian Encyclopedia. Accessed October 20, 2020 <>

Open Scholarship in Practice

Join us for a week of webinars and workshops exploring the practice of open scholarship — from new tools that can increase the reproducibility of research, to new pedagogies that become possible when students and faculty members become co-creators engaged in meaningful, generative knowledge creation. Hear from UBC colleagues who are incorporating “openness” in innovative ways to enhance teaching, research, and public impact.

Working in Public: Generosity and the Knowledge Commons

Date: Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Time: 12:00 pm – 1:30 pm

Location: This event is online. Registrants receive the link 24 hours before the event.

Featured Keynote: Kathleen Fitzpatrick, Director of Digital Humanities and Professor of English Michigan State University

Working in public, and with the public, can enable scholars to build vital, sustainable research communities, both within their fields, with other scholars in different fields, and with folks off-campus who care about the kinds of work that we do. By finding ways to connect with a broad range of publics, in a range of different registers, and in ways that allow for meaningful response, we can create the possibilities for far more substantial public participation in and engagement with the humanities, and with the academy more broadly. This talk explores the ideas in Professor Fitzpatrick’s influential book, Generous Thinking, and will focus on the challenges posed by working in public and the skills required to develop more publicly engaged scholarship.

Co-sponsored by the UBC Library and the UBC Public Humanities Hub.

Register Here »

Building a Foundation: Open Research Data as a Pillar of Open Science

Date: Tuesday, November 3, 2020
Time: 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Location: This event is online. Registrants receive the link 24 hours before the event.

This session will provide an introduction to Open Research Data (ORD) in the sciences. You will learn about the importance of ORD to the unfolding Open Science movement; the benefits ORD can bring to you, science, and society; and the cultural challenges we face in translating vision into practice. If you are interested in taking the first steps to make your data open, we will provide you with a toolkit to get started!

Register Here »

Emerging Perspectives in Open Access Book Publishing

Date: Wednesday, November 4, 2020
Time: 10:00 am – 11:00 am
Location: This event is online. Registrants receive the link 24 hours before the event.

Open Access monograph publishing is a rapidly expanding and evolving strategy for making scholarly work globally accessible. Universities, academic publishers, libraries, and scholarly organizations are developing new initiatives, partnerships, services, and business models to support open access options for authors of scholarly monographs, textbooks, and academic books. This event will explore the opportunities, challenges, and experiences of OA book publishing from the perspective of authors, series editors and publishers. You are invited to join a panel discussion of UBC faculty and publishers that will address their motivations for “going open”, as well as the processes, impacts, and changes that OA is bringing to academic book publishing.

Register Here »

Publishing As Open Pedagogy: OJS & Pressbooks

Date: Wednesday, November 4, 2020
Time: 1:00 pm – 1:00 pm
Location: This event is online. Registrants receive the link 24 hours before the event.

As open education continues to gain traction in higher education, many are looking for ways to expand their integration of open approaches beyond merely the inclusion of open materials. Open publishing is beginning to emerge as one pathway towards greater engagement in openness in the classroom. This panel will introduce participants to five people working in various capacities to support student publishing through Open Journal Systems and PressBooks, two open source publishing platforms that allow for open dissemination of student-created, instructor-supported content.

Register Here »

From Project Plan to Release – Publishing an Open Text

Date: Thursday, November 5, 2020
Time: 10:00 am – 11:00 am
Location: This event is online. Registrants receive the link 24 hours before the event.

As more faculty engage in the development of open educational resources (OERs), the publishing of open texts has increased. Open textbook collections are growing and the opportunity to engage in developing this content is becoming more accessible to faculty interested in educational publishing.  But with these new opportunities comes a need to better understand: how you go from a plan to a fully published open text?

This webinar provides a phased approach to publishing an open text. The session will cover:

  • Determining the Project Scope and developing a plan,
  • Developing an Accessibility, Diversity, and Inclusion Plan,
  • Developing a text outline, design and style guide,
  • Developing a release plan and peer review process, and;
  • Developing a post-release plan, including collection of impact data.

This session will also provide you with templates and guides for your text project, in addition to outlining the supports and services available at UBC.

Register Here »

Publishing an Open Text with Pressbooks – The Basics

Date: Thursday, November 5, 2020
Time: 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
Location: This event is online. Registrants receive the link 24 hours before the event.

Pressbooks is a powerful and popular tool for creating open educational resources such as textbooks. Whether you are looking for training for yourself or your research assistants, this training will cover the basics of how to use Pressbooks to create and enhance content. By the end of this session participants will be familiar with:

  • Pressbook layouts and organization
  • Developing and structuring chapters and parts
  • Embedding content, including images, videos, and other media materials

BCcampus Open Education has created a self-serve instance of Pressbooks. This is available for instructors and staff from post-secondary institutions in British Columbia and the Yukon. Create an account at:

Register Here »

Building Digital Exhibits with Wax

Date: Friday, November 6, 2020
Time: 12:00 pm – 1:30 pm
Location: This event is online. Registrants receive the link 24 hours before the event.

This workshop will introduce Wax, a tool for creating minimal Digital Exhibits without complex infrastructure.

Register Here »

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