The “Chosen Friends” of Carleton Place –The Fire of 1904




Photo-Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum.– McDiarmid Stoves destroyed 1904- notice the three little kids standing beside the debris- the Box Shoe Store is the next business standing in that picture on the left.- If you look closely at the building in the background that is what Dr. Ellis’s building used to look like on Franklin Street.

I came across this interesting tidbit in the Almonte Gazette this week.

Almonte Gazette– 1893

The Carleton Place lodge of “Chosen Friends” has one lady member. 

Perth Courier, January 29, 1904

The fire originated in the Maguire block supposedly in the large hall occupied by the I.O. Foresters and the Chosen Friends but how is not known–Perth Courier, January 29, 1904

The I.O.F. and Chosen Friends lost all their lodge furniture, regalia and fixtures.


So who were the Chosen Friends? Where exactly was the Maguire block? We were trying to figure that out the other day at the Museum- so we looked at this 1904 fire. We still did not find out who The Chosen Friends were or where exactly the Maguire Block was. We have an idea but need more input please.

Perth Courier, January 29, 1904

The Carleton Place Herald says:  By odds the most destructive fire which has visited Carleton Place was that of Monday afternoon, barring the destruction of the McLaren Lumber Yard in 1880.  It is a heavy blow to the town.  Three large blocks, fully occupied by tenants yesterday at noon all blank this morning.

It was indeed a wicked fire and it was only the Herculean efforts of the firemen who fought bravely and desperately for five hours that the Struthers and Farmer buildings and the dwellings on the back streets were saved.  The smoke at times was stifling, the flames were vicious yet the branch men soaked with water and covered with ice kept faithfully at their posts and finally won the victory.

The fire originated in the Maguire block supposedly in the large hall occupied by the I.O. Foresters and the Chosen Friends but how is not known.  The smoke issued in dense clouds from the upper part of the building above before the inmates below knew of any fire and then they had very little notice.  George Allan, who had rooms above Mr. Deck’s and had only moved in and furnished them, scarce got anything out and those on the ground floor had but a brief time to remove what stock they could.

The brigade responded sharply to the alarm and in a very short time two streams were played from the fire engine and three from the force pumps at the Brown mills—five streams in all and so well did the force pumps work that there never was any let up in the water supply until the fire was conquered although at times the immense volume  of water seemed to have little or no effect on the flames.

The buildings destroyed were all wooden structures, veneered in front but there were unfortunately no brick walls between the Struthers block on the south and the Box building on the north and the fire was fortunately kept between these walls although a desperate fight was made for it.

The losses are:

T.C. McGuire on building, no insurance and small loss of stock mostly removed.

A.W. Bell on buildings occupied by Keays, Tucker, Muirhead, Stuart, Dolan, DeWinter, W.H. Hoper, partly insured.

Robert McDiarmid on buildings and stock part of stock being saved—insured

Allan Brothers stock, boots and shoes—insured

S.A. Dack, jeweler, insured

Ed Keays, confectioner, insured

W.J. Muirhead—hardware stock partly got out, insured

  1. H. Tucker, jeweler, stock mostly got out, insured
  2. H. Hooper, photographer, lost most everything partly insured

DeWinter’s, dentist, partly insured

Bell Telephone Company, Central Exchange—Complete loss, insured

W.B. Stuart, drugs, stock mostly removed

J.S. Dolan, tailor, stock mostly removed

The I.O.F. and Chosen Friends lost all their lodge furniture, regalia and fixtures

In the buildings adjoining, Mr. Box removed his stock of boots and shoes, with heavy loss.

  1. Carmichael removed his grocery stock; J.L. Murphy his stationery stock; Dr. McIntosh removed his household furniture and effects. On the other side Mr. Chapman emptied his dwelling as did also Mr. Reid. Mr. Bangs had his things in readiness for a rapid exit in the bank building.  Taber and Company suffered heavy losses due to water and smoke.  Mr. Struthers also lost considerable on building.  Miss Coleman, dress maker had her rooms cleared, the roof being destroyed.  Dr. de Renzy had his effects removed.

The loss is variously estimated at from $50,000 to $85,000.  The destroyed property cannot be replaced now at the latter figure.  The insurance is between $30,000 and $40,000.


Thanks to Norma Ford we found out who The Chosen Friends were.. They ended up becoming an insurance company?

The Chosen Friends


Clipped from Manitoba Morning Free Press,  26 Jan 1904, Tue,  Page 4



Clipped from The Ottawa Journal,  30 Jan 1904, Sat,  Page 19


Related Reading:

Tales From the Maguire Block in Carleton Place

Do You Know What This Building Used to Look Like in Carleton Place?

Read the Perth Courier at Archives Lanark

Read the Almonte Gazette here

About lindaseccaspina

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

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