Illness and Accidents


"Left Tanigers at 11 o’clock. Too wet to go out early which was a disappointment. Sea rough...Cattle were being hauled on board by ropes round their horns. The crossing was rough and most people were ill, we got comfortable chairs and were very happy comparatively speaking."

This quotation from Milly’s diary is likely describing sea sickness. While being stuck on a boat amid choppy waters would be trying in and of itself, there were also much more severe illnesses to be wary of during a long voyage. The turn of the 20th century gave the world its sixth major outbreak of cholera, a bacterial infection that brought with it a shockingly large death toll (Major Epidemics).  


"Left from Easton at 8:45. Station very crowded. Late so my luggage was not weighed (good thing for me) travelled in a carriage with 3 others. Last man entered through window as train left, head first!"

The scene depicted in the above quotation is likely not an unfamiliar one: a crowded station, people running across platforms in an effort to catch their train and reach their destination on time. Sometimes, by whatever means necessary. The image of a man diving through a train window like an action hero in a spy movie is certainly a comical one. Not all railway accidents, however, had such an air of comedy, nor did they turn out so well for those involved. For instance, in October of 1854, a passenger train was seven hours behind on its schedule when it struck a gravel train running just west of Chatham, Ontario. The accident caused by the tardy train came to be known as the worst North American railway disaster of the time, killing fifty-two and injuring forty-eight (Railway History).