1903 Moirs Fire

Insured value: $95,000.00

Box: #4

Several Other Properties Burned
Loss: $185,000.00; Insurance loss: $95,000.00
300 People thrown out of employment

It is so seldom that Halifax has a big conflagration, that when one does occur the greatest excitement prevails, and with the burning of Moir's large building, situated on Argyle, Duke, and Grafton Streets, on Saturday evening, the whole city was aroused, and when the fire was at its height, and the sky was illuminated with the reflection of the immense volumes of flames which were belching forth, many residents of the north, west, and south ends were fearful lest the whole city might be devastated, and it was with feelings of relief that they learned that the fire was not likely to spread beyond the section where it had originated.

It was an awful night

For a big fire, and it was a fortunate thing that the building was of brick, as had such a fire occurred in a structure of this size built of wood in this locality it would be hard to say under such weather conditions where it would have ended. Almost a howling gale prevailed; the wind was blowing steadily at about 20 miles an hour, but gusts which came every few minutes reached a velocity of 30 and 35miles, and fanned the flames, carrying the sparks a great distance away. But with the wind, was the rain, which was keeping company with old Boreas, at times a drizzle or a light fall, but at other pouring in torrents.

It was a providential rain

As it thoroughly saturated the roofs of other houses, already wet from the rain during the day, and when the sparks fell were unable to do the damage which they otherwise would had the fire occurred the previous evening when everything was fairly dry following the fine weather of the entire week. But the rain had little terrors for the crowd; people when they found their own houses were to be safe, flocked in thousands to the scene; they came in all directions, and crowded the places of vantage in the vicinity, and stood in the drenching rain, or floundered about in the mud on the Parade, and while many umbrellas went to destruction in the gusts of wind the crowd still remained, and it was only when the heavy showers came that the people made the attempt to seek some shelter, only to return again as the downpour diminished.

It was a spectacle

Such as seldom witnessed in Halifax-we have had bigger fires but none which burned with greater determination. The whole city was illuminated, and sparks from the building, were scattered by the high wind in all quarters, ever up as far as Cunard's wharf. When the fire was first discovered the wind was blowing very heavy, due north, but it changed often, and was very fitful. About 7 o'clock the sky became faintly illuminated, and the cry went forth: The building is gone. The seconds perhaps the flames were beaten back by the smoke. But not for long. The great body of fire which had been making its way through the whole building could not be kept at bay by anything. It was a grand yet awful sight, one sad yet awe inspiring to look upon. Great tongues of flames burst from the building which was now nearly all in flames, and flashed its way up into the night. Every hurricane gust of wind sent the flames higher. Standing near the City Hall the spectators had a grand view of the great building becoming quickly destroyed. When the flames got full vent they did not take long to do their work. They eat up and with lighting rapidity. They were bursting out on Duke Street resembling a hot furnace, and were plunging against the City Hall, which stood like a huge fortress to avert a greater conflagration. From the Citadel the sight was grand and awful. The whole centre of the city seemed to be on fire. The great tongues of flames which were bursting from Moir's building seemed to be working great destruction, and those on the hill had a grand view. But from all points of vantage it was a spectacular sight, such as will long be remembered. The greatest excitement was when a great wall would be seen to sway and fall to the ground with a crash that could be heard for blocks around, accompanied by a shower of brick that went away into the street.

The fire had Peculiar aspects

As at the outset, with its columns of smoke pouring forth, it looked for a time like an immense conflagration, but after a while it seemed as might be confined to the Grafton street portion of the building, but when the windows got broken and the wind, which was coming from the westward, driving right into the building, the flames rapidly made their way, and when the roof at the back fell in just an hour after the fire had been discovered, it was seen that the entire building was doomed. But even then it was thought it would be confined here, but with the falling walls on Duke street, the flames leaped across the street, and then it seemed as if the fire might make great head way north, but it was confined to a couple of buildings on the opposite side and all danger was passed in that direction. With then front tumbling on Argyle street, the flames leaped across to the City Hall, but here it did not gain much advantage, while the wooden buildings just south of Moir's on this street were seen to be doomed to destruction, the small brick building of Moir's joining these, stayed it as progress for a long time, but as it became a total loss, the two residences still further south became ablaze, and though this was three hours after the outbreak there were then fears that the fire would then spread still further, but the

Good work of the firemen

Stayed the ravages of the fire fiend, and by 10:00 it was seen all danger was passed and the fire was fully under control. The firemen did magnificent work; for four solid hours they fought against the devouring element, and while the rain assisted them, they did wonders to keep such a conflagration within such bounds. If a test of their abilities was needed, nothing more was wanted, and they came out with honors, fighting bravely, quietly, and effectively, running great risks and doing their duty thoroughly. Their work at the onset was hampered by lack of water, but they did everything possible, and when the fire assumed its proportions they showed their worth. Just before the walls fell on Duke Street there were six firefighters with a hose playing a stream on the fire and it became so hot that another hose was played on them to cool them. Chief Connolly and his men are certainly to be congratulated on their work, which was the subject of the most favourable comment from the great throngs of onlookers. Not only did the Halifax Fire Department do well, but the Union Protection Company, who saved much valuable property, working in the usual effective way, which has always characterized them. The Dartmouth firemen lent a helping hand, which was most valuable, and our citizens are indebted to them for the assistance rendered. Their Silsby engine, which was stationed at the corner of Duke and Barrington Streets, was also a great factor in helping to extinguish the flames. The military as usual showed their readiness to give assistance when needed, and their aid was most valuable.

Sympathy for sufferers

While the big gathering freely praised the work of those engaged in saving life and property, they just as freely expressed sympathy for those who had suffered by the fire. Everybody regretted the misfortune of the enterprising firm of Moir, Son & Co. as they had made immense improvements in their industry; they had built up a trade which was known throughout Canada; They had only about formed a joint stock company, and just when everything was at its brightest, the dreaded fire fiend had come along and destroyed the work of years, making a loss not only to the enterprising firm, but the city, whose people felt proud to have such an industry within its limits, as its destruction will not only be a loss to the firm but to its 300 employees, who will be out of work for some time. The greatest sympathy was expressed on all sides for them, as well as the others who met with losses which was not only confined to the places which were burned, but many other residents in the vicinity had to remove their belongings in the drenching rains to a place of safety, fearful lest the fire might reach them and their property received damage which they could ill afford.

The start of the fire

A few minutes past six the alarm was rung in from box 4 which is at the Police station. The hour was one in which the streets were thronged with people and many lingered on their way home to supper, to learn where the fire was. Those in the immediate vicinity of the City Hall soon perceived the odor of smoke, but at that time it could not be placed. Shortly afterwards however the news that the fire was at Moirs big manufacturing establishment caused hundreds to quickly gather. Among the first to arrive was a Recorder representative and he was there before any of the fire apparatus. The Chemical Engine in charge of Engineer Michael Murphy and driver Joseph Fultz came tearing along Grafton Street a minute or so later and they were quickly at work.

When the reporter first arrived smoke was issuing in dense volumes from two or three windows on the second story of the ell or wing, which adjoined at the south side of the main building on Grafton Street. The fire originated in the starch room but the cause of the same could not be ascertained at that time. Even at that moment bright flames could be seen through the smoke, but still the conflagration was not looked on at that stage as of a very serious nature, principally because it was generally known that a brick wall separated the wing from the main building. The chemical engine reached the scene in remarkably quick time and a ladder was erected. Windows were broken to allow the branch of the chemical hose to be used, and as quick as a flash the flames shot out in the face of Michael Murphy, who however did not flinch but shoved the branch in through the window to the flames. The wire netting over the window prevented him getting in to the most advantageous position, but not withstanding that the wire interfered to a certain extent in allowing the stream to do the most effective work, yet in the course of a few minutes the flames seemed, to the spectators at least, to have been smothered. The smoke then became very dense, and it must have been with extreme difficulty that Engineer Michael Murphy held his position the time that he did. Just as the impression went abroad among the onlookers that the fire would only be an incipient one, the flames burst from the windows just beneath the operator of the chemical stream, who was enveloped in the dense smoke and tongues of flame. At this stage water from the hydrant, was put into use, but the force of the water was not very strong. The engine from Central Engine House was quickly brought into service, and in comparatively quick time the engine was sending forth a strong stream into the burning building. The network hampered the firemen, but these were quickly removed, and the firemen were doing noble work when smoke was seen issuing from windows of the main building. It then became doubtful whether the fire could be held down and a second, third, and was sent in calling for the entire city's apparatus, which made wonderful good time in responding from all points.

A general alarm

At this time it became apparent that the fire had either crept between the floors or through the doors connecting the wing to the main structure, for suddenly flames burst from several windows about the center of the main building. It was then generally acknowledged that the whole building would succumb, and such surmise proved eventually to be only too true.

At this time the wind was blowing a regular hurricane, and the firemen had to exert all their energies. The heavy gusts of wind fanned the flames until they assumed immense proportions. Occasionally the efforts of the firefighters seemed to be successful in mastering the flames, and at these intervals the smoke became so dense that the men could hardly live in it, but they still struggled on, showing great perseverance in their great work. Then the smoke would clear away and another clear jet of flames would leap forth from another part of the building. On each such occasion the firemen would spring forward and mount the ladders and fire escapes and pour in torrents of water on the flames. A large numbers of ladders were against the Grafton Street wall of the building and on each were several experienced firemen doing their utmost to conquer their enemy. While the men were thus stationed on ladders, the flames and smoke surrounded them on all sides to such a great extent that the spectators would not have been surprised at almost any moment to see a man drop from the ladders overcome either by smoke or flame. Fortunately such did not occur, although many had very narrow escapes and but for their great presence of mind and their energy would have succumbed.

The fire by this time had reached every story

And jets of flames burst from the Duke Street side of the building, nearest Grafton St. At this stage it was seen that the Moir establishment was doomed and that the greatest of care would have to be taken to prevent the flames from setting fire to the buildings opposite Moir's on Duke Street. The whole western end of the main and ell buildings were by this time in flames, and only a few minutes elapsed before the roof of the ell fell in with a crash, and then the flames rose high in the heavens, sending sparks and burning timber way up in the air to be blown by the heavy gale in a northerly direction.

The ell runs half way through to Argyle Street and with the flames pouring from the windows and over the top edge of the walls, placed the two wooden structures owned by the Messrs. Austin in a very precarious position. However, the firemen, who had carried a stream or two to the rear of the Austin premises, successfully coped with this danger and for the time being saved the wooden structures from igniting. This was good work for, had the wooden structures caught fire at that time the conflagration might have gained much greater headway by setting fire to other places at a time when the larger portion of the fire apparatus and firemen were urgently needed to prevent the fire from traveling northward in the direction of the wind.

When the roof of the west part of the main building fell with a crash the flames reached to a tremendous height, and it was thought at the time that the firemen would be unable to combat successfully with the immense conflagration that threatened the whole north block. As it was, the buildings opposite Moir's became ignited and streams of water were quickly turned in that direction. A large portion of the western wall of the main building was the first to fall. Only a minute or two before men had been on the ladders doing their utmost, but the heat was so intense that they were reluctantly compelled to stand away a short distance. Many of the men had their hair scorched before they retired. Two firemen had also remained on the fire escape as long as they could possibly do so. They had not retired more than a few minutes when a cry went up that the wall was falling.

The spectators were horrified

For they did not believe that the firemen had had time to get across the street, and many thought that some had surely been buried under the heaps of bricks as they fell with a crash, not only into the middle of the street but across it and onto the sidewalk opposite. Shortly afterward another portion of the western wall fell crumbled away and fell into the street. Many persons received slight injuries from flying pieces of brick. The fire by this time had crept, not withstanding all efforts to stop its progress, to the front on Argyle Street, and now the whole structure was a regular seething furnace and the heat was terrific.

Part of the sidewall now fell, and the suddenness of its collapse gave the men working in that vicinity but little chance to get out of the way of the falling bricks. The great velocity of the wind was to a great extent the cause of the walls collapsing so quickly. After the side wall had tumbled down the flames shot clear across the street, making the street impassable for some time. The wooden structures were quickly afire, and the chief of the department decided that something of an extraordinary nature had to be done if the conflagration was to be prevented from destroying the whole block north from Duke St. He accordingly issued orders for a division under Capt, John E Burn to make an attempt to reach a position in front of M. Scanlan and Sons dry goods premises with a stream of water. Before sending the men who seemed only too willing to perform this brave deed, for the heat was intense and gnite frequently a gush of wind would send flames almost across the width of the street into this dangerous position, arrangements were made for another division to protect the men by playing a stream on the firemen. At the same time a stream from Argyle Street played on the Davis and other properties, just east of the Scanlan premises. These two powerful streams were without doubt was the means of saving the block. The heavy rain, which fell shortly before 9 o'clock, also assisted greatly in preventing a much larger conflagration than was.

When the flames burst through the front of the building about 7:30 o'clock, much anxiety was felt. The fire leaped fully across Argyle Street and extended some ten or fifteen feet over the roof of the City Hall. The heat from the flames soon cracked the windows in the west end of the city building. The window frames caught fire and the flames reached into the library department. In addition to this the roof of the City Hall caught and much difficulty was experienced in getting at the fire, for the flames and sparks had lodged on the pediment and it was very hard to get a stream opf water in such a position as to do effective work.

The Dartmouth Fire Brigade had come to the city's assistance and a detachment of the R. G. R. and they did noble work; a number of the R. A. and R. E. also gave great help.

One of the Dartmouth men had a most miraculous escape

William Levy, john Graham, and two others of the Dartmouth Engine Company placed a Halifax extension ladder up against the west end of the City Hall in the endeavor to reach the projection with a stream of water. When Levy had reached about 35 to 40 feet from the ground with Graham close by, the wind which was blowing with terrific at the time caused the ladder to slip along the slanted roof and then to fall. A cry of horror arose from those close by for it seemed as if the men were falling to certain death. The ladder in its decent struck against an electric light post and the men on the ladder were thrown to the ground, Levy landing head first on the concrete sidewalk and everyone supposed that his brains had been dashed out. Many ran to his assistance and he was picked up in an unconscious condition and carried into the Police Station. He appeared lifeless, and it was supposed that his neck was broken. Medical; assistance was telephoned for, but before a Doctor could be found the man recovered consciousness, some 15 minutes after the accident. Although he was severely shaken up he received no permanent injury. His ankle was badly sprained and swollen, and it was with difficulty that his rubber boot could be removed. Mr Levy wore one of the olden time stiff helmets, and this alone saved his life. When he landed on his head the helmet was jammed down over his eyes and was somewhat crushed in, although not ruined altogether. The edge of the peak was cracked but still held. The whole toe of one of Mr. Levy's boots was torn off from the instep out. It is supposed that in falling Mr. Levy's foot came in contact with a wire which destroyed the boot, but at the same time no doubt saved the force of the fall. The injured man after he came to, was given another pair of rubber boots and he wanted to go again and fight the fire. This however he was unable to do, owing to the soreness of his ankle. He was carried to the Dartmouth ferry and conveyed home.

When the City Hall roof became on fire the two chemical engines were again brought into use and are responsible for the saving of that building from being consumed. The roof was continually on fire and as quick as one blaze was extinguished another was discovered, and the engineers of the chemicals and several firemen were kept busy at a very difficult task, for the fire had crept under the slates, and it seemed impossible for the men to get at the fires to extinguish them. Engineers Michael Murphy and Wm. Fidler with John Whalen and others cut holes in the roof, and Whalen with a rope tied around his waist crawled up and along the edge of the pediment until he was in a position where he could extinguish the fires which were in very difficult positions under and on top of the projections.

When the front walls of the Moir's building fell out the flames leaped out fiercely, and many of the firemen had narrow escapes both from the heat and falling bricks. Then the rest of the north wall fell, followed shortly after by the south wall. Before the later had succumbed however the two properties of Messrs. Austin were in flames. The gale still continued and sparks and burning embers were blown in every direction.

The wind changed and shortly after 9 o'clock was from the westward, and large pieces of burning wood were blown over the building on Barrington Street and even to Granville Street. The next building to catch was the paper box factory of Messrs Moir. This was gutted, but the brick walls resisted to a certain extent the power of the flames. The first double house of Dr. Cameron's block was badly gutted. Much difficulty was experienced by the firemen in keeping down the flames in the buildings on the east side of Duke Street between Grafton and Argyle Streets. All these were badly gutted and M. Scanlan & Sons stock of dry goods was completely destroyed.

Estimated losses and insurance

  Loss Insurance
Moir Son & Co. $140,000.00 $75,000.00
Scanlan $ Son $16,000.00 $5,500.00
City Hall Building $2,000.00 fully insured
Citizens Free Library $1,000.00 fully insured
Wm, Austin $6,000.00 $3,700.00  
Dr. Cameron's Houses $3,000.00 loss covered
Wm. Davies $2,500.00 loss covered
Adams $ Co. $800.00 $300.00
J. D. Stewart $2,500.00 loss covered


J. E. Lawson, Mrs. Chisholm, Thomas Moriarity, Mrs. Gormley, William Evans, Mrs. Wentzell, John O'Brien, and Hugh Munro, and other losses, about $4,000.00; no insurance.

The total losses are approximately estimated at $185,000.00, and the insurance losses at $95,000.00.

Places burned and damaged

Moir, Son & Co., Argyle, Duke and Grafton Street.
William Austin shop and residence Argyle Street.
W Austin, house, Argyle Street.
Dr. T. W. Walsh, 116 Argyle Street.
Misses Newcombe,, 114 Argyle Street.  
Dr. W. M. Cameron, 116 Argyle Street, residence.
Adams & Co., shop, 49 Duke Street Wm. Davis, shop, Argyle Street.
John E. Fawson, stevedore, 51 Duke Street.
William Evans, 53 Duke Street.
Mrs. Chisholm, 53 Duke Street.
Thomas Moriarity, 55 Duke Street.
Mrs. Gormley, 55 Duke Street.
Mrs. Wentzell, 55 Duke Street.
M. Scanlan & Son 57-59 Duke Street.
Hugh Munro, pilot, 61 Duke Street., over Scanlans shop
John O'Brien, 61 Duke Street.
J. D. Stewart, Duke Street


The Insurance


Moir's Building  
Commercial union $4,000.00
Norwich Union $4,500.00
Royal $3,000.00
British American $4,999.00
Lloyds London $7,000.00
Northern $4,000.00
Canadian $2,000.00



Moir's Stock  
Aetna $3,500.00
Canadian $2,000.00
Anglo American $3,000.00
Hartford $3,000.00
Caledonia $2,500.00
Home of N. Y. $3,500.00
Northern $3,000.00



Moir's Machinery  
Commercial Union $2,000.00
Anglo American $2,000.00
Aetna $1,000.00
North British and Mercantile $1,000.00
A. Jacks Agency $1,500.00
Equity $3,000.00
Canadian $1,250.00
Lloyds London $5,750.00



Boiler House and Engine  
Commercial and Union $2,500.00
Norwich Union $1,500.00



Paper Box Factory  
Phoenix of Hartford on building $1,000.00
Phoenix of Brooklyn, stock and machinery $2,000.00



Moirs Total $75,000.00



M. Scanlan & Sons  
Acadian on stock and building $2,750.00
Halifax $2,750.00



William Austen  
Royal on buildings and stock $3,700.00



City Hall  
Acadia, Halifax, and Ottawa on building $30,000.00
Acadia, Halifax, and Ottawa on furnishings $10,000.00
Royal on Library $5,600.00



Dr. Camerons  
British American on buildings each $1,500.00
Halifax on buildings each $500.00



W. M. Davies  
National on buildings $3,200.00
Norwich Union on stock $1,000.00



J. D. Stewart's  
North American south building $1,000.00
Caledonia furniture $2,000.00
Royal on stock $1,500.00
Acadia on building $1,000.00
Scottish Union building $2,000.00



Dr. Walsh  
Royal on furniture $800.00



Estate Pallister  
Acadia $2,500.00


The Origin of the fire

Mr. James Moir the senior member of the firm, when asked about the fires origin said he knew nothing about how it originated. The fire started in the drying or starch room of the confectionary department, and not five minutes previously the hands who had been at work all day had left, with everything apparently alright. Mr. Moir stated that he had secured offices on Argyle Street at Davidson Brothers and bread making to fill his army contracts was going on at the Poors Asylum and at Liswells Gottingen Street. The wages the firm amounted to nearly $2000 a week and 300 hands would be out of employment for the time being.

Interview with Chief Connelly

Chief Connelly, of the Fire Department was interviewed by a Recorder representative yesterday afternoon. The Chief was seen at the West Street engine house at 3 o'clock, and he stated in answer to enquiries that he was feeling quite tired after the exertions during the fire. His pose is somewhat cut, which was caused by falling plaster, and his hands and wrists are marked by sparks. His left wrist is quite badly burned. During the night he received a severe shock from a live electrical wire. The Chief says some arrangements should be made where by all electrical wires should be cut down in the vicinity of the buildings where such conflagrations as that of Saturday night are in progress. He says firemen have more dread of live electric wires than they have of tackling and fighting the very largest and most dangerous of fires.

The Chief stated that Saturday's fire was the third time he fought conflagration in Moir Son & Co's establishments, and that this was the worst of them all. At the time the alarm sounded he was on his way to supper, and he had to return to West Street engine house for his team, and drove hurriedly to the scene. When he arrived a chemical steam and two streams from hoses were being played on the fire. The streams of water, he said, would hardly go through the windows, as there was not enough force. They soon got good streams, and by that time he had placed men on the fire escapes and ladders at the windows trying to kill the flames, but the latter were too powerful.

From Grafton Street the Chief went to Argyle Street, and went up the stairs to the office and tried to get an entrance to the main factory with a stream. He, however, found it impossible for any one to work there on the account of the density of the smoke, and the heat was also tremendous. After closing all the drafts that he could he set men to work in the yard back of the paper box factory.

The Chief, in answer to an inquiry about the falling walls, said he was surprised at the walls falling so early. He said that if the wall on Grafton Street had not "buckled," that is, the top falling inward and the lower and the center part outward, that many men would have been buried under the bricks, and in all probability would have been killed. Had the top of the wall fallen outward the men could never have escaped. The men were able to get the hose from under the bricks before the rest of the wall fell. This was done at great risk. He said the men had just come off the ladders on account of the dense smoke when the western wall fell. There were eighteen men in that position.

When he saw the fire gain such headway he knew the building was bound to go, and he took a stream and placed some of his men in the yard back of Scanlans premises. The Moir building was ablaze at that time, and the heat was unbearable, and no one could go up or down Duke St. To get at Scanlon's building he got No 2 hose Co, and told them to go to the front of Scanlon's shop. Capt. D. Healy was told off to guard the men. Capt. Burns and four or five others, by a stream playing a regular shower over them all the time. They were between the two fires, from Moir's and from Scanlan's buildings. This action the Chief said, without doubt, saved the whole block, with the assistance of Assistant Chief Phalan and Capt. Thomas Burns, of no. 2 steamer, who played on the Davis and adjoining buildings from the corner of argyle and Duke Streets. He said they had a very hard fight to keep the fire from Pallisters corner. The City Hall then started to burn at the same time, and attention then had to be turned to that. In all he had about 100 city firemen and 30 supernumeries. The Dartmouth Fire Department came, the Chief said, just in good time. Their engines provided two powerful streams on Moir's and other buildings. Then the City Hall broke out again, and he asked Capt. Williams of the Dartmouth Company to pay attention to that building. The Bangor extension ladder was brought into service, and he regretted the accident that happened, which was caused by a heavy gust of wind.

He wished to return thanks to the Dartmouth men for their services. The Dartmouth Engine Company and Ladder Company gave great assistance. About 50 to 60 men from Dartmouth were present. The Chief also wishes to thank R. G. R., R. E., and R. A. detachments for their very effective work, being attached to No. 5 steam engine on Duke Street. Their efforts were immensely appreciated. The Chief said that all the firemen in the city and Dartmouth as well as the military worked hard. He never saw a crowd of men standing up more bravely than they did Saturday night when danger threatened. They stood their ground and did their duties without a flinch. The Chief says that he had no doubt that the two chemicals saved the City Hall. From the time the Chief got to the fire until 3 o'clock Sunday morning he never let up. Once a stream of water struck and knocked him down. The Chief said that Saturday's fire clearly demonstrated the necessity of having all the engines in good order. There was not one hitch in any of the steamers, all of them being in perfect order. He was glad that such was the case. Even if one of the engines had been in poor condition it might have been severely felt by the Department during the fire.

A live wire fell on the steamer at the corner of Grafton and Duke Streets, breaking the glass and gauge. Engineer Druban ran the engine all right without these protections to show the amount of steam.

May rebuild on old site

This afternoon Mr. James Moir said their loss was very great but they would rebuild at once. His idea at present was to build larger and more modern premises separated from each other. The biscuit, bread, and confectionary departments would all be in separate structures, and a warehouse for raw materials and manufactured goods would also be built. There was also some talks about him going to the suburbs, but he already had the present site and that would be the less expensive, because he would have the foundations, which are still intact; one of the large ovens, he thought, would still be in good condition and besides these the chimneys are still solid. These would make the rebuilding much less expensive than if he were to remove his factory to the suburbs.

At present he would only continue his bread business until he had come to a definite conclusion as to just what he will do. Since the last fire he has made some money, but it was all spent in enlarging their premises and adding additional and more modern machinery.

The previous fires

The last time Moirs was destroyed was June 16, 1891. The fire broke out at 3:50 am in the soft bread bakery. The rear of Mr. Austen's property which was slightly burned was the only place touched by the fire. M. Scanlan's property was blistered and stock damage by water. The loss then estimated at $100,000. There was a big fire at Moirs April 15 1867, when the two upper stories were destroyed.


The Austin property succumbed to the flames about 8:00. In the fire of 1891 they were in grave danger, but outside of a scorching they escaped. Saturday night, however, nothing could save them. It was only a mater of time. At last the place caught; and it went up like matchwood. Messrs. Austen saved but little.

On account of the great interest centered in the fire, business was practically suspended from 6 to 10 o'clock.

W. Connors had hurt his legs from falling bricks on Duke Street. It was the same limb that he had broken last year at Cunards.

It was fortunate that Ald. Martin had the third engine repaired when he did, or the city would not have had the use of all its apparatus.

Before the Dartmouth firemen left for home they were served with a hot lunch at the Acadian Hotel. Acting CHAIRMAN Campbell of the Fire Board worked hard.

Many of the Veteran Fire Department rendered great assistance. During the progress of the fire Windsor called up several times and asked if assistance was necessary. The fire although under control burned fiercely all night, and men with streams of water had to remain. The ruins were still burning today and the firemen were still working there.

Assistant Chief Phalen, Capt. Thomas Burns, and fireman G. McGuire were knocked down when the front wall fell, but they escaped with bruises.

Capt. D. Healy had his hand slightly scalded. He and his men worked from 6 p. m. Saturday to 5 p. m. yesterday.

Messrs. Scanlan & Son had just received $5,000 worth of spring stock, but unfortunately did not insure the same.

The plate glass window in D. Connors grocery, corner of Duke and Grafton Street were all broken by the heat. They were all insured.


From Facebook group "Historical Stories of Nove Scotia" contributed by Jocelyn Snyder Freeman:

"The Moir family business was established under Benjamin Moir, a native of Scotland, who opened a bakery shop on Brunswick Street, Halifax, N.S. in 1830. After his death in 1845, his son William C. Moir took over the bakery. Between 1862 and 1869 Moir built a five-story plant occupying Grafton, Argyle, and Duke Streets featuring a steam bakery, flour mill and retail store which originally operated under the name Moir and Co. A confectionery plant was opened in 1873 managed by William's son, James W. Moir, who introduced the production of chocolates. In 1875 the name of the firm became William C. Moir and Son. James W. Moir succeeded his father as head of the business in 1896 and his brother, William C. Moir Jr., also joined the firm as an associate. In 1903 the firm known as Moir Son and Co. was incorporated as a joint stock company under the name Moirs Limited. A paper box plant was added to the establishment at Halifax, and a chocolate refining plant, saw mill and wooden box (shook) manufacturing plant were constructed in Bedford where the company later established its own hydro power station. On 29 December 1925, Moirs Limited was incorporated to acquire the old firm. The company was reorganized in 1926 and established branch sales offices and warehouses across Canada and foreign agencies in the West Indies, Central and South America, South Africa, and New Zealand. In 1956 the company left family hands and was reorganized under new president F.M. Covert. Standard Brands Canada Limited acquired Moirs in 1967. The Moirs plant continued in Dartmouth as part of Hershey Foods Corporation."


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