1832 The McDonald Fire

A fire occurred on April 27, 1832; below is the related Acadian Recorder newspaper article, published the day after, on April 28:

Fire - We have the painful duty this week, of recording an occurrence lamentable in an extreme degree. An alarm of fire was made, about one o'clock on Friday morning, when it was discovered that the extensive new stone building, belonging to Mr. A. McDonald, Tobacconist, was in flames. The inhabitants, Civil and Military, mustered in great numbers, and several engines were soon on the spot. All did their duty, and did it effectively. By the time the Engines could be got into play, it was found that all hope of saving the house on fire was in vain. It burned with fearful force and rapidly, and at about 2 o'clock, the slated roof fell in. This was the critical moment, for if the walls also gave way, the destruction of the neighbouring buildings seemed inevitable, while their preservation was hoped for, if the stone shell stood firm. The latter happily was the case, and altho' the burning house glared like a furnace, and sent up volumes of red embers, and altho' the contiguous wooden houses were exposed to a fearful heat, the destroying element only gutted the house in which it first obtained the mastery. The fire was almost immediately in the rear of our office, and for some time its spread to a fearful extent seemed extremely probable. We feel very grateful for many offers of assistance made by numerous friends, and particularly for the kindness exhibited by those of our own business, who knew that they could render us most important service in case of exigency. The houses in the neighbourhood, both in Water street and Hollis street, were emptied of their contents by the inhabitants, and damaged by the playing of the engines; and the dwelling of Mr. Neilson (Watchmaker) which adjoined Mr. McDonald's, was pulled down by the Axe Fire Company; so that much inconvenience and loss, besides that which the ruined walls depict, must result from this calamity.

Halifax has been wonderfully preserved from fire of late years; but the present occurrence is a striking and awful warning. It is also a lesson which can be read by all, of the vast superiority of stone buildings over wood in a populace town. Had Mr. McDonalds large House been of wood, it is impossible to calculate on the destruction which should ensue; while now, the walls which confined the fire remain, and the mass of combustibles scattered around in the shape of houses sheds and fences have escaped unhurt. There might have been strong reasons for repealing the act which limited the size of wooden buildings in the town; but we pray that Halifax may not be one day fearfully taught, the policy of the old law. We greatly regret Mr. Neilson's loss and privation by this melancholy occurrence, he has had trials in various ways, and is barely able to bear this new affliction.

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