Fires once took huge toll
At one time, major fires were quite common.
Alexandria was rocked by several conflagrations in the early 1900s, however, fortunately no lives were lost.
Fire protection was not a priority as the growing village continued to develop.
This reality was underlined in January, 1896, when the Alexandria Manufacturing Co., a furniture factory employing 30, was destroyed by flames.
A week later, a brigade led by Chief D.D. McDougall and Captains Alex Lalonde and A.D. McDonell was formed.
It had a rough start: When municipal council balked at spending money on supplies for the firefighters, the fire chief resigned.
In July, J.O. and H. Mooney’s Alexandria Roller Mills were razed. In August, fire consumed the St. Lawrence block and Miss McDonell’s millinery.
After the brigade was re-organized in September, flames hit the new high school in January, 1897.
In 1898, the pay of the 12 firemen was set at $5 per year.
In 1903, fire wiped out D.D. McMillan’s carriage shop, the Presbyterian manse and four stables.
In 1904, the fire chief’s salary was $15 per year; members got $10, if they attended 12 practices.
D. McRae’s store was levelled in August, 1904; the Grand Union Hotel was damaged.
In May, 1911, a blaze that started in the telegraph office destroyed the Crystal Block, owned by Dave Courville, and H.R. Cuddon’s jewellery store and dwelling.
In early August, flames razed the Eastern Pipe and Construction Co. factory.
Early 1914 saw the destruction of Auguste Lalonde’s grocery store at the corner of Main and Derby Streets.
July 14, 1915, Alexandria’s Grand Trunk Railway (GTR) station was destroyed by a mid-afternoon fire.
did not mourn the loss of such a valuable structure.
“That the station was an anti- quated affair and quite unworthy of the traffic and needs of the town is admitted on all hands, and few regrets will be uttered at its passing.”
In October, 1916, the Queen’s Hotel was destroyed.
In 1921, the post office and R. H. Cowan’s hardware store were gutted.
The largest blaze broke out June 24, 1921. The fire raged through the southern section of Alexandria. Some 20 homes and another 20 outbuildings were destroyed before the inferno could be controlled.
The fire was believed to have started in the barn of Alfred St. John on Dominion Street South. A brisk wind whipped the flames as they tore through residences on Dominion, Lochiel, Bishop and Victoria Streets.
In 1922, the Grand Union Hotel, Star Theatre and Jos Lalonde’s barbershop were destroyed while Ostrom’s drugstore and J. A. McDonald block were damaged.
Fire claimed the Dever block in 1931. The following week, the Hervé Parent block, the Parent home and poolroom and the Chinese laundry were all levelled.
In February, 1932, the Dever block was hit again.
In August, 1942, the Lacombe Broom Handle plant was destroyed.
The gristmill building, rebuilt in 1902 and used by Graham Creamery, was gutted in December, 1943. In 1945, The Hub restaurant fell victim to fire.
In early 1944, the fire brigade was expanded to 12 members; the men were to receive $30 a year.
May 29, 1946, R.J. Graham suffered his third heavy loss in 30 months when the grain elevator in the rear of the mill was badly dam- aged. The loss included 10,000 bushels of grain that had been unloaded that day.