A Scarlet Fever Quarantine and the Subsequent Adventures of a Spirited Little Girl

Scottish immigrant Christina McKay Liness Murchison didn’t let a little scarlet fever get her down. Her family’s home was quarantined due to her illness in the early days after their arrival in 1930 on the Duchess of Richmond.

“Mostly I remember…the time my second brother arrived…I had scarlet fever. I can remember a crib in the kitchen and my brother was in it…our whole house was quarantined and I can remember that. A big red sign on the door, "Quarantine." It was horrid. But that’s what they did back in those days and I had scarlet fever.”

But fear not, Christina made a full recovery and was soon up to trouble. She recalled some of her more notorious childhood escapades in the neighbourhood.

“We had one little house down the street that had a hedge all around it, and we thought that was a haunted house…we used to want to get in there and see what he was doing. But that’s all; we got in trouble for that…throwing apples at windows…I had been a devil all my life, a little bit.”

She closed with words that should be pretty familiar to us by now, words echoed by almost all of the immigrants whose stories I have shared: “My brothers and I are very close…and I think I’m a lucky person.”

This is a really hard time but I hope everyone is finding something to make them feel like a lucky person. I hope it is good health, a strong community, and a family that wraps you in love whether you are an angel or a little devil like Christina.

Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 (00.06.22CM)


Carrie-Ann Smith

Carrie-Ann Smith is the Vice-President of Audience Engagement at the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21. She joined the Pier 21 Society in the summer of 1998 and has watched the organization evolve from an idea into an interpretive centre, and now a national museum. Though she has occupied several positions at the museum, collecting and sharing stories has always been her favourite thing to do—it still is.