Fires once took huge toll

The Glengarry News - - SALUTE TO OUR LOCAL FIREFIGHTERS - The News

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.

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