Toronto and the Great Fire of 1904

This week's fire on George Street prompted me to take a look around the internet for a little more information on the 'Great Fire of 1904'.   I had heard a little about the devastation that it caused but really had very little idea of how consuming the fire actually was.  The map below shows the area of the fire and gives you a sense of its size.

1904TorontoFireMapFire insurance plan showing extent of fire
April 1904
Artist: Charles Edwin Goad
City of Toronto Archives
MT 799 
Map copyright CGI Information Systems and Management Consultants Inc.

No one knows exactly what the cause of the fire was, some thought faulty wiring others blamed a stove.  Regardless, the fire started in a building on Wellington Street and quickly spread in all directions.  Every firefighter in the city was fighting the blaze, with help from firefighters from outside the city brought in by express train from Buffalo and Hamilton.  The fire was brought under control with no loss to life; financial damages however stood an incredible $10,000,000 (1904 value, which I believe would be well over two hundred million in 2011 dollars).  

Check out the photos below:

Bay Street looking north (just north of Front Street): Before

Bay Street Before Fire of 1904

Photographer: Alexander W. Galbraith
City of Toronto Archives
Series 409, Item 61


Bay Street after fire of 1904

Photographer: William James
City of Toronto Archives
Fonds 1244, Item 2

Looking west along Front Street West from Yonge Street:

Toronto After Fire of 1904

City of Toronto Archives
Series 327, Subseries 5, File 27

The City has a great collection of photos that can be found on their website and other images and information can be found through this link.

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