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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)