1821 The Sackville Street Disaster

On Monday, September 17, 1821, at around two o’clock, after nearly two years without fires in the town of Halifax, disaster struck when a bakery on Sackville Street caught fire. The cause was reported by the Acadian Recorder edition of Saturday, September 21st: "The Baker, it seems, had placed against the door a quantity of wood which had dried in the oven, [so] that it might kindle easily in the morning. In this situation it was left, and after a lapse of some time, generated flame, which communicated to the building." With the exception of three houses and a stable, the whole block was lost, twenty-three houses in total, as most of the buildings were made of wood, and the only thing left standing was the chimneys. Some houses on the other side of Sackville Street had their windows blown by the heat and were scorched but did not catch fire. Forty families were left without a roof over their head, but some money was raised by the inhabitants to help them. The garrison, navy yard and ship crews were all praised, but there was no a word of thanks to the town fire companies. The Union Engine and Axe Fire Companies would have had to have been there, and according to their respective by-laws, the Hand in Hand, Heart and Hand, Sun Fire and the Phoenix Fire Companies would also have been present. Like at every fire, the local newspaper scolded the inhabitants who came just to see what was going on and didn’t lift a finger to help.  Three houses were pulled down during the fire: that of Messrs. Henry Crosskill (a member of the Union Engine Company), Whitecross and Muirhead. The first two were pulled by order of a few Firewards, among which, Samuel Cunard and John Albro (Halifax Firewards meeting minutes 1804-1835).

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