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Canada has a long history of quarantine, dating back to the settlers who brought the first infectious diseases into the country from Asia, Europe and the United States.

During the 1800s, typhoid, cholera, diphtheria, scarlet fever and other diseases ravaged communities across the country.

Partridge Island, guarding Saint John Harbour, was North America's first quarantine station. Established in 1785, it received all those who were ill or had been in contact with the sick.

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Newcomers were greeted with a kerosene shower, followed by hot water. They were not allowed to leave the island until they were better. Those who never left remain in one of the six graveyards.

Between 1832 and 1854, there were four major cholera outbreaks. After the country's first cholera epidemic in 1832, Grosse Ile -- also known as Quarantine Island -- was declared a quarantine station for immigrants arriving from England, Ireland and Scotland.

The Irish potato famine of the 1840s brought hundreds of ships to Canada's shores. Ten thousand passengers, stricken by typhus, were buried at sea en route. More than 4,000 more bodies were taken from arriving ships; at least 10,000 people died in quarantine.

Stations such as Grosse Ile didn't start separating healthy patients from the sick ones until about 1870. Dr. Frederick Montizambert, of Quebec City, is credited with replacing detention with sanitation.

Ships, passengers and luggage were disinfected at the country's four quarantine stations.

In the fall of 1918, Toronto newspapers began reporting a flu outbreak. Officials urged calm: patients had been quarantined, they insisted. The Spanish influenza was contracted in the squalid trenches of France during the war and quickly carried to ports throughout Canada.

On the East Coast, curling rinks and churches were turned into health centres and a quarantine order was issued for several weeks.

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As with SARS, Vancouver had one case in the opening stages, but Toronto was hit hard. Several hundred cases cropped up, but no quarantine was put into effect in the city until a young girl died. Her school was quickly quarantined.

Meanwhile, the infection spread in Vancouver, and schools, churches, social clubs, libraries and theatres across the province were ordered shut. Those who disobeyed could be fined $100 and face six months in prison.

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