A radiographic exploration of vitamin D deficiency at the eighteenth-century fortress of Louisbourg, NS
University of New Brunswick
The French colonial experience of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries has been well-studied from an anthropological and historical perspective; however, the lived realities of children during this period have received little scholarly attention. This study aims to highlight these earliest years of life through a paleopathological analysis of 23 adult individuals from two cemetery sites in Atlantic Canada. Dental radiography and macroscopic techniques identified indicators of childhood vitamin D deficiency in 14 individuals from the Block 3 Fortress of Louisbourg, NS (c.1713-1723) and Plaisance, NL (c.1662-1713) skeletal samples. A variety of cultural and environmental factors are considered as to why vitamin D deficiency was so common during this period in Atlantic Canada. This tangible evidence of childhood vitamin D deficiency provides a rare and intimate glimpse into the lives of French colonial children and enhances our knowledge of the childhood experience in early colonial Canada.