|dc.description.abstract||Exploring data from the past provides insightful perspectives, particularly in health and disease causation. More recent anthropological perspectives of the epidemiologic transition revisit the significance that social factors play in disease causation and the evolution of diseases over time. Exploration of historical mortality records can reveal important insights into the health of historical societies and changes in disease trends (Defo, 2014; Mercer, 2014; Zuckerman, Harper, Barrett, & Armelagos, 2014). This study applies eco-epidemiologic concepts to extract a contextually appropriate representation of the cause of death trends as well as non-specific mortalities and their plausible risk factors using both death records from Manitoulin Island (1870-1908 and 1921-1936) and other relevant data and literature, eco-epidemiological perspectives reflecting ecologically derived reflections of epidemiologic concepts.
The analysis found the data to represent a contextual environment that experienced a period of rapid expansion of settlers and immigrants in the late 1870s to early 1880s, to a place that had prior to the 1862 Manitoulin Island Treaty been restricted to Indigenous People. The unrefined record collection techniques of this period resulted in datasets that are inadequate for most statistical interpretation methods.
The time period of study is especially interesting as it represents the transition between the colonial era and the modern, industrial era. Consideration of the epidemiologic transition model (Omran, 1971; Omran, 1977) especially highlights the influence this immense societal change had on disease impacts and the pathology of the environment. Historical ecology considers the influence humans have on their environment that in turn impacts heath trends that are notably represented geographically. To address this phenomenon in research of death trends requires multi-level approaches in order to address the complexity of factors and degree of impact. This is achieved in application by considering the intersection of disease pathways and the environment, particularly using the multi-level eco-epidemiological life course framework (Defo, 2014).
Epidemiologically, the dataset overall is more reflective of Omran’s (1971) ‘age of receding pandemics’ and possibly beginning the transition into the next age. Abridged life tables suggest a poor survival rate of 17 years at birth. Tuberculosis was the most notable cause of death with respiratory complications causing almost one third overall. The new immigrants to the island were an older population, whose survivability reflects a disease profile that is based more on a prior contextual environment that leads to chronically related diseases. The settlers, colonialists who were born in North America died at a much younger age, including a high proportion of infants. In this group, the adults and elderly were more apt to die from chronic complications, particularly a result from cardiovascular impacts.
Evaluating death trends and exploring past heath and disease impacts using artefactual documents and relevant literature, particularly death records, provides insight into overall environmental impacts on disease trends. While this analysis reflects more socio-ecological interpretations of trends in death on Manitoulin Island due to data quality, it does add to the fragmented view of Canada’s epidemiologic and demographic transitions following confederation. It also brings forwards insightful understandings into the history of Indigenous relations and the Canadian identity.||en_US