Sunday, January 09, 2011

Great Saint John Fire

Saint John New Brunswick in Canada suffered many times from fires. But the Great Fire occurred on June 20th 1877. It started at 2 o’clock in the afternoon in a building known as York Point. Fanned by a northwest gale ,it spread quickly to the business portion of the city and soon was out of control. People were driven by the flames from street to street. Some ran in the streets, some sought refuge in boats and crossed over to Carleton. The Reed Wharf was a place for refuge for from 1500 to 2000 persons, who were imprisoned there by the flames from 3pm to 4 am the next morning, when the fire had died down enough for it to be safe enough for them to leave. People standing at the head of King Street saw the schooners in harbour catch fire , flames climbed up the mast, leaped to the masts of schooner after schooner until there was a complete bridge of fire across the harbour. When the flames spread to Trinity Church, Captain Hazen rescued the Old Arms. These were the Royal Arms that originally adorned the walls of the counsel chamber of the Old Town House in Boston. And later they were placed on the wall of the New Trinity Church in 1880 and may still be seen today. The old one story wooden school on Germain St was destroyed. It had been a school since 1805 for boys .The new Victoria School was also destroyed. Meanwhile in the homes, people were saving what they could, like kitchen things and leaving their valuable furniture behind.

One woman told her husband to save the bag containing valuable silverware that had been in the family for hundreds of years ,later it was discovered that he grabbed the rag bag instead. King Square stopped the progress of the fire, and became a camp ground. There were soldiers, hospital beds for the wounded. It was also crowded with furniture, books and household utensils. The fire raged for 9 hours and burned two fifth of the city, the heart of the business section, the homes of the wealthy, nearly every public building. Altogether it destroyed 16 12 buildings, and made 2700 families homeless ,13000 people. Eighteen people perished in the fire or from accidents during the fire while others died from wounds, exhaustion and exposure. Many valuables were lost , pictures, books, heirlooms. Assistance came from near and far, and insurances helped repair their losses. And Saint John carried on.

Can you imagine if this happened to our city or town? It sure must have been scary and heartbreaking for these people. This makes me think about Beaubassin which was an Acadian Village near Amherst of today and when the villagers were told to burn down their village before the English got there, imagine being there and seeing these families saving what little they could save, and having to leave things behind.

Sure must have been lots of sadness in both fires among all these Loyalists and Acadians. But they were strong and they survived.

I hope you have enjoyed this story that I found in the book Our New Brunswick Story . Now I would like to change the subject and share with you a few things I have created in my store at* When you have time do stop by, check out my invitations, in my greeting card folder, my tee shirts, valentines and much much more.

Chow for now


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