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© McCord Museum
Aftermath of Fire at St. John, N.B., 1877
R. Silroy
1877-1900, 19th century
Oil on canvas
56.5 x 78 cm
Purchase from Loyalist Antiques
© McCord Museum

Keys to History:

On June 20-21, 1877, fire raged in the port of Saint John, New Brunswick. Violent winds sweeping the city carried the flames in all directions. For nine hours, Saint John was ablaze. The city's central business district was destroyed, and more than 13,000 people were left homeless. There were a dozen deaths.

Fortunately, help arrived from all over North America and Great Britain. The victims rolled up their sleeves and the city was rebuilt in less than five years. Shortly after the event, the July 30, 1887, issue of Canadian Illustrated News magazine called for radical municipal reform in the area of fire prevention, since such disasters were seriously hindering Canada's economic growth.

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


The fire first broke out in a port hangar, but strong winds swept it into the residential areas.


The downtown business core and much of the wharf and residential areas were razed by the conflagration.


Two other major fires had devastated the City of Saint John previously, in 1837 and 1839.


Firemen arriving on the scene of the blaze found numerous buildings already destroyed.

© Musée McCord Museum