VIEW-3340 | After a fire, Thomas May's Building, McGill Street, Montreal, QC, 1901

After a fire, Thomas May's Building, McGill Street, Montreal, QC, 1901
Wm. Notman & Son
1901, 20th century
Silver salts on glass - Gelatin dry plate process
20 x 25 cm
Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  History (944) , Photograph (77678)
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Keys to History

The fire is under control, the alarm is over. Various firefighting equipment, including extension ladders, can be seen in this photo.

Many Canadian cities experienced major fires in the 19th century: Quebec City in 1845 and 1866, Saint John, New Brunswick, in 1877, Vancouver in 1886 and Saint John's, Newfoundland, in 1892 were among the worst disasters. Montreal was not spared: on July 9, 1852, two blazes reduced 1,200 houses to rubble in the Saint-Laurent and Sainte-Marie districts.

Numerous times, as in Montreal in 1852, the cities tried to force residents to rebuild their homes with stone or other fireproof materials. But their efforts met with little success.

Source : Disasters and Calamities [Web tour], by Nathalie Lampron (see Links)

  • What

    Montreal's first motorized firefighting vehicles, purchased in 1911, included a pumper, a ladder truck and a hose wagon.

  • Where

    McGill Street, which ran to the river near the mouth of the Lachine Canal, was a prestigious address, especially after 1845. Illustrious firms like the Grand Trunk Railway began making their headquarters there in the 1870s.

  • When

    The Montreal Fire Department was established in 1863. The city's first recorded fire occurred in 1651.

  • Who

    McGill Street was named for James McGill, a prominent Montreal merchant, fur trader and founder of the university that also bears his name.