Great Fire of 1852

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Destruction of the Hays House in Dalhousie Square, 1852.
Map of buildings destroyed by fire, published in La Minerve, July 15, 1852.

The Great Fire of 1852 was a fire in Montreal that began on July 8, 1852, and left as many as 10,000 people homeless, at a time when the city's population was only 57,000, and destroyed almost half of the city's housing. The fire occurred at a time when the city's recently constructed reservoir, located at the site of today's Saint-Louis Square, was drained and closed for repairs. The first fire broke out at a tavern on Saint-Laurent Boulevard and spread quickly, fanned by strong winds and hot, dry summer weather.12

The fire that started on Saint-Laurent Boulevard originated from a wooden house, as was typical at the time. It spread from there to the block in between Saint Denis Road and what was known as Craig Street (now Saint-Antoine Road). The flames engulfed the Saint-Jacques Cathedral, the hospital on Dorchester Street, and the Theatre Royal. Within hours, one quarter of Montreal was destroyed.3


The disaster led to the construction of the newer and larger McTavish reservoir, and the dismissal of the city's chief engineer, who co-ordinated Montreal's all-volunteer fire companies, for failing to respond quickly enough to stop the spread of the blaze.12


  1. ^ a b Kalbfleisch, John (12 July 2003). "The Great Fire of Montreal". Montreal Gazette. Retrieved 1 January 2012. 
  2. ^ a b "Le Plateau historique : Carré Saint-Louis". L’Avenue du Mont-Royal (in French). Société de Développement de l’avenue du Mont-Royal. Retrieved 1 January 2012. 
  3. ^

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