Disasters and Calamities, 1840-1867

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Introduction M778 M2001X.6.5 M930.50.1.164 MP-0000.50.1 MP-0000.50.3 ME967X.43 VIEW-3267
View of Quebec, Canada; From the River St. Charles; Shewing the conflagration of June 28th. 1845 (...).
John Murray
1845, 19th century
Coloured ink on paper
47.5 x 58.8 cm
Gift of Mr. David Ross McCord
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  disaster (71) , History (944) , Print (10661)
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Keys to History

This picture shows one of the most impressive fires in the history of Canada. On May 28, 1845, the population of the Saint-Roch faubourg of Quebec City were terrified to hear church bells sound the alarm. Filled with fear, they looked on as most of the neighbourhood burned down. A month later, the Saint-Jean faubourg was destroyed by fire. These catastrophes led to the introduction of stricter regulations concerning the building of houses. Above all, they paved the way for urban redevelopment with larger and straighter streets to facilitate the work of emergency teams.

  • What

    The houses in these faubourgs are mostly wooden worker's houses. At least 1 500 of these dwellings disappeared in one month.

  • Where

    The fire in the month of May, ravaged the Saint-Roch district from Saint-Vallier and Couronne streets as far as the Saint-Charles River, seen here in the foreground.

  • When

    In the 19th century, starting in 1815, the largest number of major fires in North America occurred in Quebec City.

  • Who

    Salaried inspectors and firemen made up the Quebec City Fire Committee starting in 1844.