McCann’s Hotel Fire in Perth

McCann’s Hotel Fire in Perth


Building situated where the former Post Office Building now stands across from the Perth Town Hall. To the right was the Starland Theatre and Maloney’s Music Store. A nickel got you in and on Fridays they gave prizes to lucky number holders. Photo courtesy The Perth Museum. Photo from Perth Remembered


With files from the Almonte Gazette–November 11 1871


Dear Mary,

Since I last wrote you the town of Perth has been visited by a rather unusual occurrence—a severe fire, which broke out last Sunday afternoon in the stables in rear of *McCann’s Hotel, near the Post Office. Within fifteen minutes the hotel itself was in flames, and then the battle commenced.


The Old Fire Hall at 53 Herriott Street. The prominent tower was added in 1883 so fire hoses could be hung to dry

The Fountain and Union engines were speedily on the spot, and every exertion was made to keep the fire from spreading. The flames burned fiercely, a perfect gale blowing at the time, and spread both ways, enveloping the house of Nicholas Brown, tailor, on one side, and that of *John Brennan, grocer, on the other. At one time it appeared as if nothing could save Kennedy’s Hotel, and if that building had once got a good start, the whole street between the Post Office and J.Cox’s corner would have been burned.


McMartin Building: This building at the corner of Gore and Harvey Streets changed over from the St. John’s Memorial Hall in the 1970’s– Photo from All About Perth

As it was almost every building in the street was at one time burning, and it was only by the most desperate exertions and a fortunate lull in the wind that the file was confined to the houses first mentioned, While the engines were endeavouring to check the fire toward the south, a double line of men with buckets, was formed to pass water from the river to men on the roof of the brick building next the post office, and finally as night was closing in, victory crowned the efforts of the townsmen.

It is the old story—hot ashes carelessly placed in a barrel. The loss will be about three thousand dollars. None of the buildings were insured but Brennan’s, upon which there was a risk of four hundred dollars. There has not been such a fire here for years, and it is to be hoped that the Perthites will take warning now, and every man insure his property. It is quite clear now that Perth needs a good steam engine, and the Town Council will not be doing its duty if it longer delays purchasing one.





Cameron Alex, Market Sq
Cameron Bros cor North and D’Arcy
Drennan Michael ws Gore near cor Foster
Lowe Harvey Palace Livery stable cor Drummond and Herriott
Jackman Geo, Union Hotel
*McCann John cor Harvey and Gore
McTavish Peter cor North and Gore
Rogers Wm ns Peter bet Lewis and Wilson
Wilson Richard cor North and Wilson

John Brennan, proprietor of the Wilson Hotel and general stage house, adjoining livery stable Main Street-Canada Directory for 1857-1858

Perth Directory 1851    15   41   Brown         Nicholas          30


Perth, Ontario, Canada –Charles Dobie
1898 – 1899 Directory

Kennedy Grace Bell res ns D’Arcy bet Gore and Drummond
Kennedy Harriett F res ns D’Arcy bet Gore and Drummond.
Kennedy J F dentist office and res ns D’Arcy bet Gore and Drummond.
Kennedy Patrick emp waterworks bds Albion Hotel
Kennedy Phillip emp car shops ne Brock bet Gore and Wilson
Kennedy T W com traveller ne D’Arcy between Gore and Drummond

British Amer Ass Co A C Shaw agt
Caledonia Fire Ins Co Matheson & Balderson agt
Commercial Union Ass Co Jessie M Henderson agt
Confederation Life Ass John McLenaghan agent
Federal Life Ass Co F A Hall
Lanark Co Mutual Fire Ins Co Geo Ritchie agt
Liverpool London and Globe Ins Co John Code agt
London Mutual Fire Ins Co John McLenaghan agt
Northern Ass Co Matheson & Balderson agt
Ontario Mutual Life Ass Co John A Kerr agent
Phoenix Fire Ins Co of England A Meighen & Bros agt
Royal Ins Co H D Wells agt
Standard Life Ass Co Henry Taylor agt

John McCann from the McCann family files

John McCann is found with this family in the 1881 census of the town of Perth, in which he is called a mason. In the birth records of his sons Thomas (1883) and John (1886), he is also called a mason. The Smith Falls Record News of 21 Feb. 1889 reported: “The Ontario Government have appointed Mr. John McCann of Perth to be license commissioner in the stead of Mr. Samuel Garrett, resigned.” Later that year, an editorial in the Perth Courier of 8 Nov. 1889 noted, “John McCann of Perth has been appointed License Inspector for S. Lanark in place of Henry Stafford, who retired. Mr. McCann has therefore resigned his position as one of the License Commissioners. The fact that Mr. Stafford is no longer License Inspector will give great satisfaction to the Temperance business in the riding. We have every hope Mr. McCann will do his duty with vigor and zeal.” John McCann is found with this family in the 1891 census of the town of Perth, in which he is again called a mason. But in the birth records of his sons John (1893) and Joseph (1895), and in a directory published in 1898, John McCann is called a licence inspector, of Perth. In 1898 he is mentioned as a member of the Board of St. John’s Separate School [Roman Catholic], Perth. He is enumerated in the 1901 census of the town of Perth, in which he is again called a licence-inspector. However, he evidently later gave up this work and returned to a living closer to his original trade. He is perhaps the Mr. John McCann who “has sold his brick store on Gore street, in the town of Perth, to Mr. Stinson, of the Province of Quebec, who intends opening up a grocery business.” But if so, he is nevertheless likely the John McCann listed among the granite and marble dealers of Perth in a 1904 directory, and when he is was enumerated again at Perth in the 1911 census, by which time he was a widower, he is called a mason.

He was still alive on 29 Nov. 1913, when the Ottawa Citizen reported that “Mr. John McCann and daughter left on Tuesday for Renfrew to be present at the marriage of his son, Dr. [James Joseph] McCann, to Miss Divine [recte Devine] of Renfrew.  In a delayed application for a birth registration made by his daughter Anna in 1927, he is called John McCann, of Perth, building contractor, but it is not clear whether he was then alive. He has however certainly died before the appearance of a newspaper story about his son James in March 1936, which notes that this son was already known as a Liberal in his youth “because his father, John McCann, Perth contractor, made no secret of his political faith. Dr. McCann still treasures a large autographed photograph which Sir Wilfrid Laurier, revered Liberal chieftain, gave to his father as far back as 1896.



Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in Hometown News and now in The Townships Sun

Related reading

The Old Perth Fire Hall


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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