Great Fire of Toronto (1904)

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The Great Fire of Toronto of 1904 was the second great fire that destroyed a large section of Downtown Toronto, Ontario, Canada on April 19, 1904.


Front Street after the Toronto Fire of 1904

The fire was first spotted at 8:04 p.m., on 19 April 1904, by a Toronto Police constable on his regular street patrol.[1] The flames were rising from the elevator shaft of the Currie neck wear factory at 58 Wellington Street West, just west of Bay Street (now TD Bank Tower).[1] The factory was situated in the centre of a large industrial and commercial area. The exact cause of the fire was never determined, but a faulty heating stove or an electrical problem is suspected.[2]

The fire took nine hours to get under control. The glow of the fire could be seen for kilometres in all directions. Firefighters from cities as far away as Hamilton, Ontario and Buffalo (a long term friendship was established between the Queen City of New York and the Queen City of Canada, given their nicknames) came to Toronto's aid. The temperature that night was approximately -4 degrees Celsius with winds at 48 kilometres per hour with snow flurries.

This fire insurance map shows the area damaged by the fire.

The fire destroyed 104 buildings, and claimed one victim; John Croft. Croft Street is a lane-way between Borden and Lippincott Street (near Bathurst and Harbord Streets) named in his honour. It caused $10,350,000 in damage and put five thousand people out of work, at a time when the city only had 200,000 inhabitants. As a result of the fire, more stringent safety laws were introduced and an expansion of the city's fire department was undertaken.


It was the largest fire ever in the city, although a previous large fire had consumed many city blocks on April 7, 1849 when the city was much smaller and constructed mostly with wood.

The legacy of this fire includes Call Box 12, which was used to sound the alarm and now is the name for the volunteer canteen truck supporting Toronto Fire Services today.

Even 17 fire halls, two engine companies and one hose company proved to be no match.

Toronto Fire's Public Education Centre and Museum at Station 233 has model displaying the area of the fire.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Flack, Derek (2011-04-19). "The great Toronto fire of 1904". BlogTO (Toronto). Archived from the original on 2013-10-08. Retrieved 2013-10-08. 
  2. ^ Mayers, Adam (2008-08-05). "The Great Fire of 1904". The Toronto Star (Toronto). Archived from the original on 2013-10-08. Retrieved 2013-10-08. 


  • Lasiuk, Jon; Friebe, Marla (2003). A History of the Toronto Fire Services 1874-2002. Toronto: Toronto Fire Department. ISBN 978-0-9737066-0-4. 

External links[edit]