Island family unearths ‘incredible’ treasure of diary and photos from pandemic of 1918

Island family unearths 'incredible' treasure of diary and photos from pandemic of 1918
WatchA treasure trove from the past has been unearthed in a Vancouver Island home, and it's worth as much as gold to the people who opened it. The find includes a century old diary belonging to the grandfather describing the pandemic of 1918. Skye Ryan reports.

Clover Burgess opened telegrams from a time long gone-by Tuesday, alongside her excited brother and sister in Nanaimo.

After finding boxes containing hundreds of photos, she also found a diary detailing the life of her grandfather Thomas Bryson Hampton from 1918, the start of the Spanish flu.

“To find out stuff about them quarantining and stuff, it makes that connection through time. That you’re doing it now and he was doing it then,” said Clover Burgess.

“He was actually quarantined,” said her sister, Tracy Hampton. “It’s incredible to find out all of this history.”

“And you weren’t supposed to keep any records, that’s why it’s written in his bank book,” said brother Glenn Hampton, also a Cobble Hill resident.

According to Burgess, the boxes were saved from their parents’ home and had been kept for decades by their late dad, Glenn Hampton, who shared little about his family’s past.

“This box of memorabilia was something my father had kept for his whole life,” said Tracy.

“It’s like a puzzle right. Dad did give us small pieces of it and then to try to talk and piece it all together,” said Clover.

The diary shared how their grandfather was a soldier overseas in the First World War during the pandemic of 1918, even detailing how he raided fields for food.

“He sounds like he was a little bit of a hellion,” said Tracy Hampton.

On September 15, 1918 he wrote, “Writing letters home. Still in quarantine,” and on September 16, “Went on louse parade, got clothes fumigated.”

Details revealed the lonely and hard life their grandfather lived in that pandemic. Then further down in the box, they found a newspaper clipping of their grandfather’s passing.

It’s not the end of the story, but a beginning now that theses three know his story, and they’ll share it for generations to come — about two branches of the family tree who’ve lived through pandemics a century apart.

Skye RyanSkye Ryan

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