Sheldrake Island
15 August 1844
Sheldrake Island, New Brunswick, Canada


The lazaretto of Sheldrake Island

Leprosy was considered incurable, hence the goal was not to cure, but to stop propagation and contagion. A place where "isolating without great difficulty and eliminating all means of escape for the lepers..." needed to be found.

Despite the objections of Father Lafrance, a small island that had already served as a quarantine post at approximately 12 kilometers from Chatham heading downriver on the Miramichi river was chosen. 37 lepers were transferred in July 1844 to a somewhat repaired but deteriorating building. Medical care and treatment had been promised to them. They had been assured of receiving a cure, but few of these promises were kept.
There was no personnel to prepare food, to keep the lazaretto clean and to nurse their wounds. The building became repugnantly dirty in very little time. A spirit of revolt and insubordination grew among the sick. The lepers were left to their own devices.