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  • Writer's pictureCraig Baird

Vermilion Rises From The Ashes

In April 1918, Vermilion was devastated by a major fire that destroyed 23 businesses and houses. It was one of the worst fires in the history of the community. Two entire business blocks were destroyed completely.

Despite the destruction, the community began to rise from the ashes very quickly.

The first thing town council did was to pass a resolution that required cement sidewalks to help serve as a small fire break in the business area.

Work was already starting soon after the fire to rebuild everything. New buildings were popping up quickly, and several were made of brick to ensure such a fire never again happened in the community.

Plans were already in place for a new town hall, costing $25,000 to build, which was approved by council and debentures were sold to help pay for the construction. While the community lost Craig Bros. and Stephen Bros., two major stores, both were being rebuilt at a cost of $20,000 each, and would be finished by the end of the year.

The new Royal Bank Building was also springing up by June, costing $12,000 to $15,000 to build.

One of the worst parts of the fire was the loss of the post office. For the months after the fire, the post office was housed in the immigration building. A new post office was under construction by June, and was expected to be ready by the end of the year.

The provincial government was also getting into the building spree, having announced a new government building that would house the telephone system in the community.

Many businesses and homes that were lost were being rebuilt, and town council ruled that in the fireproof area of the town all buildings conform to the bylaw within 18 months.

All in all, the people of Vermilion were working hard and helping their community rise from the literal ashes. As one person in town said,

“Vermilion is going to be bigger and better than it ever was.”

Sharing Canadian history through social media, history columns and on my podcast is what I do for a living. Please consider supporting that by donating at (click Donate).

Contact Craig at

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

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