Treating the “Undesirable”: Venereal Patients in the Canadian Expeditionary Force, 1914–1918



This paper explores how conceptions of Canada as a naturally healthy environment proved false when the ill-health of civilians was revealed during the First World War. Of particular concern, venereal disease rates in the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) were reportedly the highest among the Allied armies. In turn, perceptions of venereal disease affected the ways soldiers were treated medically and socially in Toronto’s Military Base Hospital during the First World War.

Author Biography

Kandace Bogaert, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo Campus, Canada

Kandace Bogaert is a medical anthropologist who is currently a postdoctoral research fellow at the Laurier Centre for Military Strategic and Disarmament Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario. Her present research focuses on veterans’ post-war experiences with psychiatric illness, but she is also interested in infectious diseases. See her forthcoming article in the journal Canadian Military History for more detail on the experiences of soldiers in the venereal ward, as told in their own words (Forthcoming: Bogaert, Kandace. “The Segregation of Venereal Patients in Toronto’s Military Base Hospital during the First World War.” Canadian Military History.> Fall Issue, 2017).