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Conception Bay North

Harbour Grace Fires 1832, 1844 & 1858

Just a score from the hundreds of "Happy Events" in the 19th Century, of HARBOR GRACE. They were all compiled by the late R. Connelly of Harbour Grace, and on file at the Harbour Grace War Memorial Library.
The 1832 fire began in the afternoon of August 18.  At the time there 
was a fresh breeze from the west-south-west.  Soon the premises of Thomas 
Ridley & Co. and Thomas Marks were in flames.  Gunpowder began to 
explode to send burning embers far afield.  The extensive premises of 
H.W. Danson, the Newfoundland School, the C. of E. Parsonage, 
handsome St. Paul's Church, the Waterford Arms, Keefe's Hotel,
the Commercial Rooms, and some 60 premises occupied by various trades, 
as well as 100 dwellings, went up in smoke.  Among the other suffers 
were J. & B. HENDERSON, W. INNOTT, J. INNOTT, James 
PRENDERGAST, Thomas FOLEY, W. MITCHELL,  T. DANSON, 
Peter ROGERSON, J. B. KNIGHT, T. DUNFORD, M. GREEN, D. GREEN,
H. GARLAND, John RICHARDS, D. DONOVAN, R. DONOVAN, 
T. LYNCH,   M. GRUBERT, W. MEAGHER, T. WOOLFREY and 
Sir Henry PYNN, to mention just some of them!

In 1844 another major fire occurred when the extensive premises of 
Thorne-Hooper and several houses were destroyed.  The firm of Thorne-Hooper 
was one of the oldest Bristol houses doing business in Newfoundland.  The 
loss in that disaster was said to be In excess of $100,000, when a dollar was 
a dollar.  An account of the fire as given by  THE STAR, in its issue of June 13, 
1844, follows:

AWFUL FIRE AT HARBOR GRACE!

LOSS OF PROPERTY ESTIMATED AT THIRTY THOUSAND POUNDS.

It is with regret we have to announce a serious loss of Property at Harbor Grace
on the evening of Wednesday, June 5, 1844.  About 9 o'clock a house in the occupancy
of a man named FINN, was observed to be on fire, and the alarm was instantly given. 
The two fire engines belonging to the town were speedily on the spot; but although every 
exertion was made, the valuable water-side premises of Messrs. Thorne, Hooper & Co.,
Mr. Peter BROWN, and Miss Mary Foley MORRIS, were in a few hours in ashes; and
was it not for the unexampled exertions of those who came from all the adjacent places
to give their assistance, the valuable property of Messrs. Punton & Munn and many others,
would have been destroyed.  Our correspondent informs us that great praise is due the
Rev. Messrs. DALTON and CUMMINS, and the Rev. Mr. KINGWELL for encouraging 
their several flocks to exert themselves on the occasion, and to Lieutenant GILLISPEY 
for the prompt assistance given by him and the detachment under his command.

The following is a correct list of the sufferers, among whom we observe the
names of no less than eight widows with their orphan children left pennyless:
--FINN James MONAHAN
Widow MULLOY Thorne, Hooper & Co.
Widow DOOLING Peter BROWN
Captain DRYSDALE James L. PRENDERGAST
James FOX Widow WILLS
Miss MORRIS (Stores, etc.) Martin KELLY
Edward FOLEY Edward SHELLY
Richard DUNN Richard LAHEY
Widow LAHEY Henry STOWE
Widow BUTLER John GREEN
Patrick DEVEREUX Daniel GREEN (Store)
J.K. MOORE (Painter) Widow TAPP
Widow DIXON Widow CHURCHILL
C.C. THOMPSON (house pulled down)
Fourteen years later, a third great fire took place.  On Monday, April 12, 1858,
the principal part of the town, between Le Marchant and Victoria Streets, was reduced
to ashes.  Some 50 families were deprived of the means of continuing their trade or
business, most of them being shopkeepers, tradesmen or planters.  (Planter is a term
meaning a sort of middle-man who obtained supplies for the fisheries from a merchant,
and employed fishermen to whom he distributed those supplies, in the locality where
he lived.  At the close of the season, he sold the fish he had collected to the merchant,
and paid the fishermen their wages.)

Fire started at Toussaint's Hotel about 9 p.m.  It burnt up both sides of the
street, ending at Punton & Munn's at midnight.  Only three houses were saved on the
North side of the street: PIKE's, LYNCH's and JILLARD's.  One of the three that
survived, was occupied by Captain Neddy PIKE.  That house belonged to Sandy 
CAMPBELL, at one time foreman of the firm of Danson.  Situated at the east corner
of Victoria and Water Streets, it outlived the fires of 1832, 1844 and 1858!  A few
years ago it was taken down to yield place to Sinyard's Drug store.  In the writer's
time, the house was known as Dinn SHEA's.

Among the premises destroyed were WALKER's, RUTHERFORD's,
RIDLEY's, GREEN's, ALLAN's and DRYSDALE's.  The following list of
victims appeared in the press of St. John's:
South Side of Water Street
Dr. ALLAN Captain DRYSDALE
N. & J. JILLARD Rachael GREEN
Messrs. PUNTON & MUNN DOYLE & HUNT
John FISHER Messrs. RIDLEY & SONS
Captain MUNN Messrs. RUTHERFORD BROTHERS
Captain TAYLOR Captain John STEPHENSON
James HIPPESLEY Charles WALKER
North Side of Water Street
Thomas WOLFREY Mrs. MULLOY
Richard LAHEY John BYRNE
Patrick FRENCH T.C. TOUSSAINT
Robert WALSH The Misses PRENDERGAST
James DRYSDALE William BURKE
Mrs. DIXON Pierce MAHER
Mrs. DONOVAN Catherine DEGAN
Garrett CONDON William FITZGERALD
Matthias O'NEILL Mrs. COONEY
Mrs. GUSHUE Peter MURPHY
Mrs. MADDOX Mr. DILLON
Thomas WALSH Mrs. RONAN
Patrick STRAPP Mrs. FINN
John MULLALY
The Rear of Water Street
Michael POWER Mr. GREEN
Thomas CANDLER Thomas GRIFFIN
William GRUBERT Peter MURPHY
Mrs. BRIEN Mrs. LAHEY
Patrick SCANLAN

Eleanor Atkinson & NL GENWEB