The People’s Store McAdams Building Fire 1911

The People’s Store McAdams Building Fire 1911

Corner Bridge and Mill Street now the Hub

Almonte, May 18, 1911

One of the most disastrous fire In the history of the town broke out in the early hours of this morning in the business block and before it was gotten under control had entailed a loss estimated at nearly $76,000, only partly covered by insurance. The conflagration is a most serious, one for the town s the portion destroyed is right in the centre of the business section. In about an hour after the fire broke out the large block of half a dozen buildings which fell a prey to the flames had been consumed with practically all of their contents. Carleton Place sent its engine on a special train but the fire was under control when it arrived. The principal buildings destroyed are those of A. J. McAdam, Sirs. J. S. Patterson, Mrs. D. H. Davis, these three being of brick; W. McMunn, H. Conn and J. Francis, the latter being frame; T. R. White’s coat shed with a large stock of coal; W. N. Acton’s lumber storehouse, well filled with dressed lumber, and L. James’ ash house.

The fire when first discovered was well advanced and had apparently broken out in the rear of the People’s Store attire. By the time the fire company was on the scene and the engine In action the flames had spread to ths frame structure at the rear of the Mock. All the upper part of Mr. W. J’cMunn’s building, formerly the old Music hall and now used as a storehouse for buggies and machinery, was a mass of flames.


To show what a narrow escape Mr.  Robertson’s store had from destruction during the big blaze, one only has to look at the eave of the roof, which is burned and charred- in several places. The terrific heat from across the street was the cause and only a thorough drenching kept the building from falling prey to the flames. The attention of the firemen was devoted principally to preventing the fire from spreading to the adjoining blocks. The substantial store building of Mr. F. W. Robertson was instrumental in shutting off the advance of the lire down Mill street, although the edge of the roof was on fire repeatedly. The chief danger was that the fire might cross High street to the lavls house, a large three-storey frame building, as the wind was blowing in that direction, but there was little wind and this enabled the firemen to get a chance to fight it. The pressure on some of the lines of hose was poor and the water could not be ithrown to the top of the Davis house. It was. however, saved by a party of volunteers under Mr. L. W. Shipman and Mr. Avery, a teacher. The roof had become ignited from embers and Mr. Shipman succeeded after some delay in getting a hand pump to work on the roof. Mr. Avery also made his way along the roof in a daring manner and applied water to the fast in creasing blaze. The daring work ot the two men undoubtedly saved the hotel.

The saving of the Davis house also prevented the destruction of a large part of the town which would certainly have been destroyed if it had gone. There was a hard struggle to prevent the fire from crossing to the Davis house sheds, when Acton’s lumber shed was on fire, the heat being so intense that It almost drove the firemen out of range. Carleton Place generously sent their fire engine down on a special train but the fire was under control before it arrived and was detrained. The loss will be well up near the $100.000 mark, as there were three large brick buildings. A. J. McAdams building shows the most loss ( People’s Store)

The brick wall of the McAdam building on Bridge street is still standing, but owing to its dangerous condition the street has been fenced off. Monday evening about six o’clock, during the high wind, a portion of the upper part was blown off. The wall will probably be taken down to the second story, and the lower portion rebuilt. The walls at the back of the McAdam and Patterson buildings are also standing, but the rest of the burned area is nearly all levelled to the ground.

McAdams occupied the first flat of his building as a general store and lost his complete stock. The second flat was occupied by the Misses Beaton as a dressmaking shop and partly by McAdams’ stock of carpets. etc. The third story was occupied by the Citizens’ band. Mrs. J. Patterson’s shop was occupied by J. H. Proctor, harness maker, and Messrs. Rooney and Hogan barbers, on the first flat, the Bell Telephone central and Mrs. Patterson’s residence in the second flat, and the upper flat was the hall of the Sons of Temperance.

The lower flat of Mrs. Davis’ building was occupied by T. Hogan’s pool room and tobacco shop and the Union Express office and the second flat by Mrs. Davis as her residence. George Robertson, occupied the barber shop at the rear of the Peoples’ store, near which the fire originated There is a fair amount of Insurance on some of the goods but the loss will still be heavy.

1911 Almonte Gazette May

Some of the losses in detail, with amount of Insurance, are: Mrs. J. S. Patterson, loss on buildings $4,000; occupants, J. H. Proctor, harness, loss $2,000: Rooney and Hogan, barbers, $500; telephone central office, loss $4,000. Mrs. D. H. Davis, loss on buildings, $250, on furniture $1,000; occupants of stores under her dwelling, Thos. Hopkins. tobacco and pool, $2,000;

Dominion Express company office, $500. A. J. McAdams, drygoods and general store, loss on building, $7,000; on stock $30,000; other occupants of McAdam block, the Misses Beaton, milliners and dressmakers, $500; Citizens’ band loss on instruments, $500; Geo. Robinson, barber shop, $500. Wm. McMunn block, lose on buildings. $2,000; on stock of flour, feed and implements, $3,000. M. Unger, vacant dwelling and shop, loss $1,500. John France, frame dwelling, loss on building and contents, $1,000. T. R. White, coal sheds, loss on building $1,000; on contents $1,000. W. N. Acton, dressed lumber and office, loss on building and contents, $3,000. Mrs. E. Greig. loss on furniture in McMunn block. $1,000. The burned section is bounded by Mill, Bridge and High streets and the C. P. R. tracks. Chester Avery, the young school teacher who was in instrumental in saving the Davis house and thus checking the fire was slightly injured.

May 1911 Ottawa Citizen

Related reading

Mary Delaney Caught Stealing at The People’s Store

McAdams Store Almonte

Robertsons Keepsake Building Memories and Comments

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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