Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Hull - Ottawa Fire of 1900

26 April 1900 promised to be a ‘fine’ day for Ottawa, Canada’s capital city, according to the weather report. [1]

By mid-morning on that spring day, fate decided differently.

About 11:00 a.m., 114 years ago today, a fire broke out in Hull, opposite Ottawa. The origin: a burning chimney in the house of A. Kirouac on Chaudière Street. [2] The fire spread quickly throughout Hull, and by 1:00 p.m., “it is thought that the whole city […] will be destroyed”. [3]


Hull Ottawa Fire of 1900
View of Queen Street looking west during the Hull - Ottawa Fire of 1900.
(Library and Archives Canada / PA-120334)

The fire destroyed almost everything in its path as it accelerated beyond Hull to nearby islands in the Ottawa River where lumber companies stored their stacked lumber. From there, the fire reached the city of Ottawa. Fierce winds swept “sparks and flaming shingles in many directions and frequently caught in sections a considerable distance remote”. [4]


Hull Ottawa Fire of 1900
Hull Fire showing bridge on Ottawa side looking toward McKay's Mill.
(Horatio Needham Topley (1847-1910) / Library and Archives Canada)

By late afternoon, the great fire was consuming Ottawa’s working-class residential neighborhood of LeBreton Flats, located west of the federal parliament buildings. The fire might have continued through the city if it hadn’t been for “the sudden shifting of the wind from the north-east to the east”, which saved the rest of Ottawa. [5]


Hull Ottawa Fire of 1900
View of LeBreton Flats looking north after the Hull - Ottawa Fire of 1900.
(Library and Archives Canada / PA-121784)

Twelve hours after the fire began half of Hull and 20% of Ottawa were reduced to ashes. [6] Over 15,000 were left homeless, about 8,000 were destitute; there were 7 fatalities. [7]


Plan Showing Extent of Ottawa – Hull Conflagration, Thursday, April 26th, 1900 [8]

Some of my paternal grandfather Fred Belair’s relatives lived in Ottawa during the 1880s to 1910s, like his great-uncle Denis Belair and his family. I checked the list of fatalities as reported in the Evening Citizen, but I didn’t recognize any of the names. [9]

For more information about the Great Fire, see the following online resources:

Great Hull Fire of 1900 at Outaouais Heritage WebMagazine 

1900 Hull–Ottawa fire at Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia 

Sources:

1. The Ottawa Evening Journal, 26 April 1900, p. 7; digital images, Ancestry.ca (http://www.ancestry.ca : accessed 24 April 2014), Newspapers & Publications Records.

2. The Ottawa Evening Journal, 26 April 1900, p. 1. The fire broke out at about 11:00 a.m., according to the Evening Journal, but other sources like Outaouais Heritage WebMagazine  say it began at about 10:00 a.m.

3. The Ottawa Evening Journal, 26 April 1900, p. 1.

4. The Ottawa Evening Journal, 26 April 1900, p. 1.

5. The Ottawa Evening Journal, 27 April 1900, p. 1; digital images, Ancestry.ca (http://www.ancestry.ca : accessed 24 April 2014), Newspapers & Publications Records.

6. “Great Hull Fire of 1900”, Outaouais Heritage WebMagazine (http://outaouais.quebecheritageweb.com/article/great-hull-fire-1900 : accessed 24 April 2014).

 7. The Ottawa Evening Journal, 27 April 1900, p. 1. Also, The Evening Citizen (Ottawa, Ontario), 27 April 1900, p. 1; digital images, Google News (http://news.google.com/newspapers : accessed 24 April 2014), News Archive Search.

8. Wikipedia contributors, "1900 Hull–Ottawa fire", Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1900_Hull%E2%80%93Ottawa_fire : accessed 24 April 2014).

9. The Evening Citizen (Ottawa, Ontario), 27 April 1900, p. 1.

Copyright © 2014, Yvonne Demoskoff.

3 comments:

  1. Amazing photos, even after the fire, the flats are inviting to me. Interesting, well written post, thank you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There were a lot of photos to choose from at LAC, each one an amazing, but sad reminder of this terrible fire. Thanks for commenting, Karen.

      Delete
  2. Impresionante documento fotográfico, y muy bien documentado.
    Gracias por compartir.
    Saludos desde Sevilla.

    ReplyDelete

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