Life and Death at William Head Station, 1872-1959

By (author): Peter Johnson
ISBN 9781927527313
Softcover | Publication Date: November 26, 2013
Book Dimensions: 6 in x 9 in
312 Pages

About the Book

Winner (third place), 2014 BC Historical Federation Lieutenant-Governor’s Medal for Historical Writing

Vancouver Island in the late nineteenth century was a major port of entry for people from all walks of life. But for many, the sense of hope that had sustained them through rough sea voyages came to an abrupt halt as soon as they reached land. Quarantined is the heart-wrenching true story of the thousands of forgotten people who arrived on our shores only to be felled by disease, in an era when medical care was unsophisticated at best and attitudes toward the poor and the sick were often narrow minded. It is about the struggle to establish a federally funded quarantine station, which, when it was finally established, became as significant and as longstanding as Grosse Ile in Quebec, Lawlor’s Island in Halifax, and Ellis Island in New York.

At its core Quarantined is a cautionary tale about the exploitation of the sick and the results of government neglect and lack of commitment to pressing national health-care issues affecting the poor and disenfranchised. It is a story that has as much relevance today as it did more than a hundred years ago.

About the Author(s)

Born in Cheshire, England Peter Johnson immigrated to Canada with his family in his early teen years. Educated in Canada, he has taught history, English, and creative writing for over thirty years in a variety of locations, from Canada’s west coast to the prairies to across the Atlantic Ocean to Dublin and London. An avid long-distance touring cyclist, Peter has bicycled through England, the Maritimes, Quebec, and Vancouver Island. As a summer instructor, secondary-school teacher, and creative writing workshop facilitator, Peter’s love of education and his nomadic spirit inform his belief that teaching is about taking students to places they don’t yet know they want to go.


"Quarantined is rich in detail about the station, and includes the context that makes it relevant today, when its history is hidden behind prison walls." —Times Colonist
"Sometimes grim, sometimes funny, and sometimes critical of the officials who shirked their duties, Johnson’s account brings a fascinating piece of history to vivid life." —Nelle Oosterom, Canada's History
"This engaging book provides both a history of the William Head Quarantine Station near Victoria, BC and an exploration of the practice of quarantine." —BC Books for BC Schools, 2014-15
“This is a detailed, well-researched history that does not require the reader to have any prior knowledge of quarantine stations and their development. Quarantined will appeal to a popular audience as well as historians and maritime scholars.” ―Amanda Lanum, The Northern Mariner/Le marin du nord