1861 Amoskeag Steamer ~ Victoria


No. 1 "Victoria" Steam Fire Engine

          • First Steam Fire Engine in Canada

          • Amoskeag Serial No 20




December 4th, 1860, council agrees that a steam fire engine shall be procured and that the expense be defrayed by a temporary loan leading to the purchase of the very first steam driven fire engine in Canada, the No.1 "Victoria". This apparatus met its end on February 8, 1912, at City Council:


"For a number of years the City has been endeavouring to dispose of the obsolete fire engine "Victoria" and have hitherto not received any acceptable offer. Messrs. Charles Brister & Son now bid $150.00 for this old engine, and your Committee [the Board of Firewards] recommend that it be sold at that price," which was accepted by the Council.




 Taken from "Amoskeag Steam Fire Engines" printed by C.F. Livingston, 1866







These Engines are built to throw two streams and fitted with a separate outlet and gate for each of the streams, and also fitted for a connection of suction hose on each side of the engine. It has one steam cylinder 8 inches in diameter, and one double-acting vertical plunger pump of 4 inches in diameter and 12 inch stroke. At a fair working speed it will discharge 400 gallons of water per minute. The weight of this engine without any of its supplies is 4,800 lbs. It is mounted on high wheels, with easy springs and forelocking carriage. It is fitted with pole, and reel for rope so as to be drawn by men, or with a pole, and the appliances necessary for the use of horses, as may he ordered by the purchaser.


A water tank to carry a supply of water for the boilers makes a part of the engine, and a fuel basket or tender of sufficient size to carry fuel for two hours’ consumption, is attached to the machine. The engine is supplied with two pieces of suction hose 4 inches in diameter  -a large brass strainer for the same - hydrant connections for the suction, if desired - two discharge pipes for the leading hose, with a complete set of nozzles from 1 1/2 to 7/8 inches in diameter - two pressure gauges, one to indicate the pressure of steam, and one to indicate the pressure of water on the hose - a signal lantern and two hand lanterns - a jackscrew, large oil,-can, wrenches and such small tools as are necessary to use about the engine when it is at work.




Council Minutes Relative to Purchase of Steam Engine




  • Report of Delegation to United States Relative to Fire Engine, February 11, 1861


To the city council


The committee appointed to visit the United States for the purpose of purchasing two steam fire engines and hose, beg to report as follows.


 They preceded by steamer to Boston and immediately on their arrival put themselves in communication with Mayor Lincoln, by whom they were kindly introduced to His Honor Mayor Wightman,  Chief Engineer Bird, Mr. Alan, the secretary of the Fire Department and other officials who with Alderman Hatch and other gentlemen spared no pains to promote the object of your Committee in every way during their stay in Boston.  Accompanied by those gentlemen they inspected a number of steam fire engines at the engine houses. They also examined the towers or air chests for drying hose which were simply openings carried through both stories of the building so as to allow the hose to be hung up and exposed to the warm air of the room on the lower story which ascends through the opening or box to the upper.


Your committee next visited Manchester N.H. for the purpose of inspecting the engines of the Amoskeag Manufacturing Company.  This company has made many of the most successful engines now in operation and has orders from cities in the most distant parts of the Union among which are Philadelphia, Chicago, Detroit, New York, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, Milwaukee and Norwich, for engines to be delivered before July next. One of their engines nearly completed was put in operation with a steam pressure of 80 lb to the square inch and in 6 minutes from the application of the match to the fire was working very satisfactory throwing water over a large 5-story building 85 ft in height with a 1 1/4 inch nozzle and a second stream from a 1 1/4 inch nozzle in a horizontal line over 150 ft.


Your committee then proceeded to New York and through the kindness of Chief Engineer Bird of the fire department of that City had an opportunity of inspecting a number of the steam fire engines and engine and hose stations in that City. They also witnessed several of the steam engines in operation which were from different manufacturers. 


At New York they have at present tense team fire engines and your committee found the opinion of Mr. Decker to be in favor of the smaller class engines, such as your committee eventually purchased for this city, as being more manageable and more readily available at fires.


 Your committee also visited the manufactory of Messrs Lee & Larned Better known as the novelty works and examined the engines made by that firm.


 From New York your committee proceeded to Philadelphia and again received the utmost courtesy and attention from Fire Marshal Blackburn, Chief engineer Wyld and other members of the fire department of that City by whose kindness they were enabled to inspect as many of the steam engines and engine and hose stations as their time would permit. They also visited the extensive Works of Messrs Reannie and Levy by whom most of the steam engines in use in Philadelphia were made and saw many both in the city and at their Works in operation. These engines are certainly excellent machines and well built and were nearer the standard proposed by your committee as suitable for Halifax than most of the other engines they examined. At Philadelphia they have 26 steam fire engines now in use and the whole fire department who at first were strongly opposed to the introduction of steam are now as strongly in favor of it. In the course of their tour your committee and an opportunity of inspecting steam engines from nearly every manufacturer of note including those of Manchester, New York, Philadelphia, Portland and Seneca Falls.


During the stay of your Committee in Philadelphia a fire occurred which was quickly suppress by the aid of the steam fire engines. 8 or 9 engines were on the spot but only 3 were required to be put into operation. A fire also occurred in Boston which we had an opportunity of witnessing. 5 steam engines were quickly at the scene of the fire 3 only however got up steam and of these but 2 were actually put in operation which were both from The Amoskeag Company Works. they're working was most satisfactory and the fire which was in a large paint and oil Warehouse was extinguished in a very short time.


After witnessing all the various engines above-mentioned in operation and making every inquiry in their power Your Committee came to the conclusion that the engines made by the amoskeag company of Manchester were in all respects the best adapted to the wants of our city. in Simplicity of construction or in other words in Freedom from liability to derangement in lightness relatively to their power in efficiency and in price your committee believe these engines will be found to exceed those of any other manufacturers in the United States. Your committee do not mean to assume that other engines do not possess some of the above qualifications in a high degree but the Amoskeag engines they believe possessed them all combined in a larger measure than any others they had an opportunity of inspecting.  They therefore on their return to Boston telegraphed to Manchester for the agent of the Emmaus gag company who met them in Boston and with whom they entered into the following contract.


Manchester N.H. Feby 4th, 1861


The Amoskeag Manufacturing Company agree to furnish to the city of Halifax two steam fire engines of the second class (or size) delivered in said city of Halifax in good order and condition accompanied by an engineer who shall put the same in working order to the full and entire satisfaction of the city government or a committee of the same. Said Amoskeag Company agree to warrant said engines in every particular of workmanship and material and fully guarantee they're working capacity. 

The engines are to be of First Quality in material and workmanship to be furnished with 28 ft of suction hose lanterns and all the small tools necessary to care and working of the engines.one of these engines is to be delivered in the course of 4 weeks and the other in the course of 10 weeks from the date of this memorandum.

The Amoskeag company are to be paid by the city of Halifax for delivery of said engines as herein specified when they are accepted by said City as herein provided. $3,000 for each engine to be paid in Sterling exchange equal to  1200 pound sterling or in draft on Boston or New York at the option of said City. The duties if any to be paid by the said city of Halifax.


(signed) E.A. Straw agent

On behalf of the city of Halifax we a committee duly appointed for this purpose accept the above


(signed) Samuel R Caldwell Mayor

  P Cateret Hill Alderman


Memo annexed to the above agreement.

 A double Branch or Y for the leading hose to be furnished with each engine. A spare grate for each engine. The engines are to be fitted to be drawn by hand and to have a “brake” to be worked from the tongue. An iron tongue to be furnished to serve as a spare tongue (for horses) for both engines. Wheels to be sized usual on the Amoskeag engines with tires two and three quarter inches or 3 inches wide and to be painted blue and gold.


(signed) E.A. Straw Agent 


Your committee devoted their earnest attention also to the subject of proper hose for steam fire engines and after making all the inquiries in their power as to the relative merits of leather india rubber and cotton canvas lined with waterproof material known as Boyd's patent hose  they decided in favor of the latter. Leather hose will not stand the pressure of a steam engine. India rubber decays rapidly and has other defects while Boyds patent hose resists any amount of pressure, is more durable, cleaner in handling as it requires no oiling and is cheaper than leather. 

Your committee therefor contracted with messer's James Boyd and Sons of Boston for 3,000 feet of their hose at $0.95 per foot to be delivered in Halifax, 1/2 with the first engine and the remainder with the second engine to be paid for as provided for the payment for the engines.

 Your committee would bring to the notice of the council that one of the steam engines will shortly arrive in this city and that it is requisite that a suitable Fire and Frost proof building should be provided at once and a site on site selected which in the opinion of your Committee should be done by a joint committee of the Fire Wards and this body.

 your committee would beg leave before concluding their report to suggest several regulations which they found to have been tried and worked successfully in the cities of the United States in reference to the Practical working of the fire department. They would recommend that the whole control and management at fires be vested in one competent person who should be paid for his services and to whom for the time being both the fire department and the police should be subjected, and who should wear some distinctive badge or dress of office by which he should be at once known by everyone. That he should have power to draw a cordon across the streets at such points as he may deem proper and to station police or any military or volunteer parties who may be on duty to prevent the passage of unauthorized persons within the lines. That he shall have the power to order any host or building to be torn down he may think necessary to arrest the progress of the fire. That a sufficient number of active men be enrolled who shall be an alarm of fire repair to some specified post and be in readiness to work the hand engines as they may be ordered by the person in charge before mentioned and who shall be paid at such rate per hour as the city council may determine from the time of answering to their names until they are dismissed.

In conclusion your committee cannot speak too highly of the marked attention and kindness received buy them from Mayor Wightman, ex Mayor Lincoln the aldermen and all the officials of the city of Boston. Those gentlemen were untiring in their attentions and acts of courtesy and appeared to feel that they could not do enough to mark their sense of reception given to their own Mayor and Aldermen. 


Your committee also feel great pleasure in expressing their gratitude to the authorities of New York and Philadelphia for the extreme kindness with which they were received and enabled to promote the object of their mission with facility in those great and important cities.

(signed) S Caldwell Mayor

P C Hill Alderman



 Memorandum of expenses of Delegation

Received from treasurer $300.00

Expended $230.00

Balance unexpended   $70.00


Source: http://legacycontent.halifax.ca/archives/HalifaxCityMinutes/documents/102-1a-1861-01-25to1861-02-11p0224-0235.pdf





  • Report of Committee on site for Steam Fire Engine, February 26th, 1861


The committee appointed to select sites for stations for the steam fire engine beg leave to report, that they recommend for one engine the Watch Station”  in the city building be appointed. the committee of city property have handed to this committee an estimate from the city Architect by which it appears that the necessary alterations can be affected for £30 or if the present height is sufficient for £18 pound.

The chairman of city property has also reported to this committee that suitable provision can be made with respect to the cells so that no impediment will exist on that score to the appropriation of the watch station which from its position is easy of access and in other respects well adapted to the purpose contemplated. 

The committee also beg to report that having made inquiries as to the most eligible site for the other engine they believe the neighborhood of Cunard's Wharf to be the most proper as the engines will buy this distribution be most readily available for all parts of the city

 They further found that the only available sites in that neighborhood were on Mr. Cunard's premises and they therefore put themselves in communication with mr. W. Cunard and after a full discussion they obtained from him the following propositions.

That mr. Kinard should build on the upper side of the street a station host affording accommodation for an engine and hose reel to be taken by the city on a lease for 10 years with the right to mr. Kinard to resume possession on giving 12 months notice at any time at an annual rent of £45.


Mr. Cunard to provide an engineer to be always 

on the spot to keep the engine in repair (ordinary 

wear and tear) including oil tallows and waste. £145

Fireman £  40

Fuel for house and engine £  20



It is to be understood that the above offer (With the exception of The Engine House) is only for one year as Mr. Cunard is by no means anxious to undertake the business but at the same time is willing to do so for one year by which means and opportunity will be afforded to compare the relative cost of an engine kept for a specific sum as above mentioned and one kept in the ordinary way by the City.


By order of the Committee

P.C. Hill, Chairman




Source: http://legacycontent.halifax.ca/archives/HalifaxCityMinutes/documents/102-1a-1861-02-11to1861-03-05p0236-0247.pdf






  • Report of a lawyer engineer relative to trial and examine new steam fire engine “Victoria” April 29th, 1861


To his Worship the Mayor and Aldermen of the City of Halifax:




 Having been requested by his Worship the Mayor and a committee of Aldermen to make a working trial examine and report on the new steam fire engine I beg to state that in compliance with request I have done so on the 11th instant. We had a working trial where I found the engine to work very satisfactory. I have seen it working on other four separate occasions. Also examined the machine and I am of opinion that it will suit well its intended purpose if properly taken care of.


Source: http://legacycontent.halifax.ca/archives/HalifaxCityMinutes/documents/102-1a-1861-04-22to1861-05-06p0284-0295.pdf





  • Report of Committee relative to testing steam fire engine Victoria. April 29th, 1861


The committee to whom were referred the testing of the steam engine ”Victoria” prior to it being accepted by the city beg leave to report.


 That they employed Mr. Moi,r late Railway superintendent to give the engine a trial and on the afternoon of the 11th instant it was taking to Creighton Wharf from the end of which notwithstanding the hose were ran out to disadvantage a stream of water of great volume was thrown completely over the Temperance Hall,  over buildings in Grafton Street and threw over three story house on Water Street. Not only did the engine work to the satisfaction of the committee but to every person who witnessed its performance in the day above named.

 The committee here too annese Mr. Moirs report and from the satisfactory testimony he gives of the engine recommend that it be taken off the hands of the maker and placed in charge of such parties as the city council may appoint for that purpose.

(signed) William Compton

William Evans

Joseph Kaye



Source: http://legacycontent.halifax.ca/archives/HalifaxCityMinutes/documents/102-1a-1861-04-22to1861-05-06p0284-0295.pdf





  • Report of Committee appointed to consider the tenders laid before the council relative to Steam Engine (Fire) May 21st, 1861


The committee appointed to consider the tenders laid before the council yesterday relative to taking charge of steam fire engine beg leave to report as follows.


 That they have considered the various tenders and recommend that the tender offered by Mr. Moir for Furnishing engineer fireman fuel materials for repair and for use of the engine as hereto annexed be accepted.

They also recommend that a proper agreement drawn up and signed by Mr. Moir for the faithful performance of the duty specified. 

And they further recommend that the fireman be compelled to sleep either on the  premises or in some convenient place thereto as the chairman of fire Wards or other competent Authority may agree to.

(signed) William Compton



Source: http://legacycontent.halifax.ca/archives/HalifaxCityMinutes/documents/102-1a-1861-05-20to1861-06-10p0308-0319.pdf 

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