The Château Ramezay – Historic Site and Museum of Montréal invites you to take the pulse of various aspects of 17th and 18th century health in its brand new exhibition  In the Time of Smallpox, from November 16, 2011 to November 11, 2012.

Epidemics regularly threatened the colony of New France. Smallpox was the most common and deadliest infectious disease.Several treatment options were available to the population during epidemics or for various illnesses. To learn more, take a number! You will be paired up with a historical figure, like Governor de Ramezay, whose health woes you will assess as you move through the exhibition.

  • You be the doctor! Make a diagnosis based on the symptoms of your historical figure and prescribe the appropriate treatment… according to the theory of humours. Can you tell the difference between an imbalance in phlegm, blood, black bile or yellow bile?
  • Now walk in the shoes of a surgeon. A general practitioner at the time, he healed wounds, amputated limbs and performed bloodletting. Which instrument will you choose if your historical figure has a broken arm or tooth?
  • Get out your jars and become an apothecary! The precursor to pharmacies, apothecary shops supplied medicines to hospitals, surgeons and physicians. Ginseng, ipecacuanha, dragon’s blood… Which plant will heal your historical figure’s ailment?
  • Beyond official channels, patients had recourse to various alternative therapies, depending on their beliefs and financial means. Best to keep one’s options open! Why not try a bonesetter, a healer, a homemade remedy, a pilgrimage or advice from the priest? Who will your historical figure turn to for help?
In the Time of Smallpox brings together 250 objects from various museums, including from the Stewart Museum collections. Thanks to a special collaboration with the Ville de Montréal and the Department of Anthropology of Université de Montréal, the public will get a rare glimpse of bones from the cemetery of the first Notre-Dame church. These relics open a window onto the lives of the first Montrealers and their ailments as well as the treatments and surgical procedures of the period. 
Here’s to your health!

Source : Château Ramezay
Photos : Jacqueline Mallette, ServicesMontreal.com

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