In the spring of 1866, the Canadian government feared that a cholera epidemic was imminent. A conference of medical experts was held at Ottawa to determine the nature of the disease on the basis of "authentic facts" but the participants were unable to agree among themselves. Faced with the necessity of advising Canadians on how to live in time of plague, and yet unable to define clearly the nature of cholera, in his Memorandum on Cholera the deputy-minister of Agriculture, J.-C. Taché, translated medical preoccupations into matters of the government of oneself and others, in terms heavily accented by his fundamentalist Catholic religious beliefs.