• Craig Baird

The 1922 Livery Fire

It was nearly a very bad day for Vermilion when a fire broke out at a livery barn in the early hours of Sept. 29, 1922. The fire was discovered at 1:30 a.m. by Norman Ganton, an employee of the CNR who was on his way home from work.

He quickly entered the barn and woke up William Johnston who had fallen asleep at the premises and then the two men found their way out of the barn amid the thick smoke. Johnston would lose $40 in cash and three trunks of clothing in the barn.

The wind was calm but within three minutes of the alarm being raised, the barn was a mass of flames and the roof collapsed to the ground as flames began to leap into the air.

Fire Chief O. Burns and his med began to fight the fire to the best as they could, while rescuing the nine horses inside. Unfortunately, none of the horses would make it out alive. One of the horses belonged to the barn owner A.H. Iverson, while the other eight belonged to farmers in the area.

The fire soon began to spread to other buildings and with the Alberta Hotel only 40 feet away, it began to become scorched by the flames. The fire brigade worked for an hour to save the hotel as if it caught fire, the rest of Vermilion would have been at risk of destruction. Thankfully, the fire was put under control before it could, saving Vermilion from a terrible fire that would have been devastating.

Many old men in the community commented on the odd coincidence that the first Alberta livery barn that stood on the same spot as the destroyed livery barn was also destroyed by fire 14 years previous.

In all, there would be about $13,500, or $218,500 today. Most of the cost of the damage was focused on the barn and its occupants, but the Barr and Wotherspoon’s machine and blacksmith shop was also destroyed. The home of Iverson was partially destroyed in the fire, and the Alberta Hotel suffered about $1,100 in damages because of scorching and broken windows. Most of the fire loss was covered by insurance.

Contact Craig at craig@canadaehx.com

Support Craig by donating at https://www.buymeacoffee.com/craigU

Listen to his podcasts Canadian History Ehx, Canada’s Great War, From John to Justin & Pucks and Cups on all podcast platforms.


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