A spir­ited de­bate

The Glengarry News - Glengarry Supplement - - News -

BY SCOTT CARMICHAEL

News Staff It ap­pears that “fire water” – and not the type re­quired to ex­tin­guish blazes – was a hot topic dur­ing the in­fancy of Alexan­dria’s fire depart­ment well over a cen­tury ago.

In an item in­cluded un­der the Lo­cal News sec­tion of the Sept. 18, 1896 is­sue of The News deal­ing with a meet­ing of the town’s re­cently-in­cor­po­rated fire bri­gade, it’s pointed out that “the prac­tice of hav­ing pails of whisky passed around af­ter each fire was dis­cussed and unan­i­mously con­demned by those present.”

D.J. Macdon­ald, pre­sum­ably a mem­ber of the force, prof­ferred a more prac­ti­cal al­ter­na­tive, sug- gest­ing that “peo­ple de­sir­ing to of­fer re­fresh­ments to those who were tired and wet af­ter a fire should pass around a pot­ful of hot cof­fee in­stead.” In­dus­tri­al­ist J.T. Schell, the fire bri­gade’s sec­re­tary, “thought the best way to avoid chills on an oc­ca­sion of this kind would be to keep mov­ing, thus pro­mot­ing the cir­cu­la­tion and ward­ing off of ill ef­fects un­til a change of cloth­ing could be had.”

Fi­nal de­ci­sion on the ”wet” or “dry” de­bate was slated to be put to a vote “at the first meet­ing in which nearly all the mem­bers of the bri­gade may be present.” There doesn’t seem to be a writ­ten public ac­count of the out­come, but it’s safe to as­sume that the town’s fire­men threw a wet blan­ket on the idea of any fu­ture post-blaze “blitzes.”

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