Great Fire of 1852

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Destruction of the Hays House in Dalhousie Square, 1852.
Map of buildings destroyed by fire, published in La Minerve, July 15, 1852.

The Great Fire of 1852 was a fire in Montreal that began on July 8, 1852, and left as many as 10,000 people homeless, at a time when the city's population was only 57,000, and destroyed almost half of the city's housing. The fire occurred at a time when the city's recently constructed reservoir, located at the site of today's Saint-Louis Square, was drained and closed for repairs. The first fire broke out at a tavern on Saint-Laurent Boulevard and spread quickly, fanned by strong winds and hot, dry summer weather.[1][2]

The fire that started on Saint-Laurent Boulevard originated from a wooden house, as was typical at the time. It spread from there to the block in between Saint Denis Road and what was known as Craig Street (now Saint-Antoine Road). The flames engulfed the Saint-Jacques Cathedral, the hospital on Dorchester Street, and the Theatre Royal. Within hours, one quarter of Montreal was destroyed.[3]


The disaster led to the construction of the newer and larger McTavish reservoir, and the dismissal of the city's chief engineer, who co-ordinated Montreal's all-volunteer fire companies, for failing to respond quickly enough to stop the spread of the blaze.[1][2]


  1. ^ a b Kalbfleisch, John (12 July 2003). "The Great Fire of Montreal". Montreal Gazette. Retrieved 1 January 2012. 
  2. ^ a b "Le Plateau historique : Carré Saint-Louis". L’Avenue du Mont-Royal (in French). Société de Développement de l’avenue du Mont-Royal. Retrieved 1 January 2012. 
  3. ^