Great Fire of Toronto (1904)

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The Great Fire of Toronto of 1904 was a great fire that destroyed a large section of Downtown Toronto, Ontario, Canada on April 19, 1904. It was the second of such fires for the city in its then short history.

Incident[edit]

Front Street after the Toronto Fire of 1904

The fire was first spotted at 8:04 p.m., on April 19, 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]

With 17 fire halls alerted, two engine companies and one hose company, 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 came to Toronto's aid. The temperature that night was approximately -4 degrees Celsius with winds at 48 kilometres per hour and 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 CA$10,387,000 in damage[3] 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.

Legacy[edit]

The fire remains the largest fire ever to have occurred in Toronto. A previous fire on April 7, 1849 consumed many city blocks when the city was much smaller and many more structures were wooden.

Call Box 12, which was used to sound the alarm, is the name for the volunteer canteen truck supporting Toronto Fire Services today.

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

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Flack, Derek (April 19, 2011). "The great Toronto fire of 1904". BlogTO (Toronto). Archived from the original on October 8, 2013. Retrieved October 8, 2013. 
  2. ^ Mayers, Adam (August 5, 2008). "The Great Fire of 1904". The Toronto Star (Toronto). Archived from the original on October 8, 2013. Retrieved October 8, 2013. 
  3. ^ "Oil Fire Menaces Toronto". The Evening Citizen (Ottawa). February 12, 1948. p. 1. Retrieved December 5, 2014. 

Bibliography[edit]

  • 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]