The first outbreak of polio in Canada was in 1910. A little girl who was taken to a hospital in Hamilton, Ontario later died from polio. Originally, it was thought that she had rabies.
If you got the kind of polio that affected your breathing, you needed an iron lung to live and sometimes there were not enough to go around. Imagine being a doctor and having to decide which child would get an iron lung and which wouldn’t. After all, without an iron lung, you could die.
The original iron lung cost almost as much as an average home at that time, so only so many could be manufactured at one time. Before Mr. Roosevelt got polio in 1928, there was no such thing as an iron lung or money raised for polio research.
You might have to stay in an iron lung for just a few weeks or the rest of your life.
The first iron lung was sent from Boston to Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto in 1930. Because of a major epidemic in Canada in 1937, there was a rush to build more. In fact, they were even built in the basement of Sick Kids. The RCAF made emergency deliveries to areas hit hardest with polio epidemics.