History

In 1904 British Columbia was a province of promise and hope. Yet disease and death, especially from tuberculosis, the No.1 killer at the turn of the century, were sadly accepted as facts of life.

During that year, the BC Anti-Tuberculosis was formed and in July 1907 purchased the Fortune Ranch at Tranquille with its own funds. The Society converted the Tranquille facility into an institution for the care and treatment of people suffering from tuberculosis and operated the institution on that basis from November 1907 to April 1921.

In 1920, the Directors of the Society commenced negotiations with the provincial government to take over the operation of the Tranquille Hospital. An agreement was signed on February 23, 1921 and Tranquille Hospital was transferred to the Province of British Columbia.

By virtue of that Agreement, the Province undertook to maintain and operate the King Edward Sanatorium at Tranquille. Provincial secretary at the time, John McLean, said "This is too large and important an undertaking to be managed and supported by voluntary effort, and secondly, because the care of contagious disease of this nature should be the duty of the province."

For 18 months, the Society ceased to function actively, but on October 30, 1922 the "Tranquille Tuberculosis Publicity Society" was incorporated under the Societies Act. The objects of the Society at that time were as follows:

  • To inaugurate and carry on a publicity campaign against tuberculosis;
  • To stimulate a lively public interest in the prevention and treatment of tuberculosis;
  • To cooperate with, assist and encourage organizations and institutions engaged in the fight against the white plague;
  • To endeavour to promote the physical economy and social welfare of dependents and homes of persons incapacitated with tuberculosis;
  • And generally to assist by all lawful means in bringing about conditions designed to control and prevent the spread of tuberculosis and curtail its ravages.

The Society changed its name to the "Tranquille Tuberculosis Society" and from that name to the "British Columbia Tuberculosis Society" on November 9, 1936. On June 27, 1964, it again changed its name to the "British Columbia Tuberculosis Christmas Seal Society" and, finally, on July 27, 1978, the name was changed to the British Columbia Lung Association.

In 1926, the young Society introduced the Christmas Seal in British Columbia, conceived in Denmark in 1903 and carried over the Atlantic in 1907. The Christmas Seal was adopted in 1927 as the official method for tuberculosis associations across Canada to appeal to the public for funds. The colourful stamps, designed to raise money to "stamp out" tuberculosis, immediately captured public attention and rallied people in the fight against TB, and established the Society as the spearhead of that fight.

The Society worked actively with the Department of Health in conducting public surveys to diagnose disease in British Columbia communities. In 1944, Streptomycin, the first effective drug therapy for tuberculosis was discovered. This was the beginning of three decades of successful drug treatment research.

Because of efforts of the Society and its sister organizations throughout North America, and because of the generous contributions of time and money from the public, tuberculosis was gradually becoming a disease which could be detected and treated. In the 1970's, TB hospitals were closed because patients could be treated with new drug therapies at home or in general hospitals. They also closed because there were fewer patients to treat, and a preventive drug treatment became available during this time.

As tuberculosis was declining, other lung diseases, especially those linked to cigarette smoking, were increasing. Recognizing the need to extend its efforts and programs to include the entire scope of respiratory disease, the organization started to work on new challenges. In some ways it was like starting over again. Cures for emphysema, lung cancer, asthma, and occupational lung diseases did not, and do not exist. Today, relentless medical research continues, and the public education emphasis is on programs of prevention and control.

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