Saskatoon Public Library  
     
  Saskatoon Through the Ages:
selected photographs from Local History Gallery Shows
 
     
 

Photo 1 of 27 | | |

2012 - In Case of Fire ...

In April, 1898, a prairie fire swept in from the east, threatening the small collection of frame houses and shacks that Saskatoon consisted of at the time. In the fall, two more prairie fires would threaten the settlement. The October fire would destroy several stables and hay stacks, making the winter of 1889-90 a hungry one for many cattle in the district. Prior to this, the only serious blaze in the colony was in 1887 when the Horn brothers’ house was razed.

The threat of fire convinced the settlers of the need for adequate firefighting measures. In September, 1903, the town council would pass Bylaw No. 5 for “the prevention of fire” to deal with the fire menace. Successive councils would debate the need to purchase firefighting equipment for the growing settlement.

A firemen’s scrapbook housed in the Local History Room chronicles the history of fire and firefighting in Saskatoon. Newspaper clippings and photographs show the progress from early bucket brigades to modern fire engines. In the exhibit In Case of Fire… the Local History Room uses images from this scrapbook as well as photographs from its collection to document and celebrate the early years of the Saskatoon Fire Department. The exhibition shows the early fire halls, firefighting equipment, and the stalwart firefighters who battled Saskatoon’s blazes. Candid photographs provide a glimpse into the daily life of a firefighter.

Join the Local History Room in honouring the Saskatoon Fire Department.

In Case of Fire ... was curated by Ron Jaremko, with the assistance of Local History Room staff: Kathy Snider, Dorothea Funk, Mary Ellen Schnitzler, Elaine Kozakavich, Tedi Page, Ann Findlay, Barbara Wojnarowicz.



2012 - In Case of Fire ...

In January, 1904, City Council secured a site for a fire hall at the northeast corner of Third Avenue and Twenty-First Street. Plans were submitted in August and tenders for the construction of the fire hall were advertised, calling for a brick or cement block structure to serve as both a fire hall and Council chamber. The fire tower and shed were built shortly after to store the equipment and hoses. Saskatoon’s volunteer fire brigade would operate from this location for four years.

Date: [ca. 1908]

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Photo 2 of 27 | | |


2012 - In Case of Fire ...

Members of the Fire, Water and Light Committee tested this steam pumper outside the Western Hotel located at Second Avenue and Twenty-First Street on Wednesday, January 18, 1905. After twenty minutes of trying, it was found a tap had been improperly turned. Adjustment made, the engine succeeded in throwing a stream higher than the Western Hotel. Allan Bowerman, Thomas Copland and James R. Wilson are some of the dignitaries in the picture.

Date: 1905.

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Photo 3 of 27 | | |


2012 - In Case of Fire ...

Architect Walter LaChance would design and local contractor Gordon Marr would build Fire Hall No. 1 located on the corner of Twenty-Third Street and Fourth Avenue. The modern white brick structure officially opened in December, 1908. It featured three large front doors which swung outwards when the alarm was sounded. The stable was in the rear and had eight stalls. The fire chief’s and firemen’s quarters were on the second floor. The construction of the new hall inaugurated a modern firefighting service for the city.

Date: [before 1911]

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Photo 4 of 27 | | |


2012 - In Case of Fire ...

Fire Chief Thomas Heath sits with an unidentified colleague in the chief’s office located in Fire Hall No. 2. Thomas Edward Heath started as Fire Chief in October, 1909, when the department employed thirteen men. Under his direction new fire halls were erected, modern equipment purchased and the staff increased to thirty-eight. During his ten-year tenure, Heath changed the Saskatoon Fire Department from a small, inefficient organization into a fully modern force.

Date: 1913.

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Photo 5 of 27 | | |


2012 - In Case of Fire ...

John Spence joined the Saskatoon Fire Department on February 7, 1910. He was promoted to the rank of captain on April 26, 1915. This may be when he purchased his new Indian motorcycle, seen here outside Fire Hall No. 1 on Twenty-Third Street. Spence retired from a 37-year firefighting career in 1947. He was appointed chief in 1944.

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Photo 6 of 27 | | |


2012 - In Case of Fire ...

Firefighters race down the 100 block of Second Avenue South in this 1911 photograph. At this time, all apparatus was horse drawn and citizens thrilled to the sight of horses racing down the streets pulling the fire wagons. Well cared for by the city veterinarian Dr. Orme, the eleven horses in the Department were Diamond, Jim, Mack, Sandy, Buster, Jack, Donald, duke, Tom, Fred and Prince.

Date: 1911.

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Photo 7 of 27 | | |


2012 - In Case of Fire ...

The erection of so many new tall buildings during Saskatoon’s boom period between 1909 and 1913 prompted City Council to approve the addition of an aerial fire truck to the equipment of the Saskatoon Fire Department. The Seagrave 85-foot quick-raising aerial truck was drawn by three horses and equipped with rubber tires. Twelve Firemen are shown on the new apparatus parked on Avenue B outside Fire Hall No. 2. The Temperance Hotel can be seen in the distance.

Date: [1909-1913]

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Photo 8 of 27 | | |


2012 - In Case of Fire ...

An unidentified fireman stands beside the fire alarm box at Avenue A and Twentieth Street. When the new fire alarm system was inaugurated on February 8, 1910, outdoor fire alarm boxes were located at twenty-one locations. In 1913, when this box was installed by the King Edward Hotel, it was Box 51. Headquarters for the system were on the second floor of Fire Hall No. 2 under the control of the Fire Chief with the help of an electrician.

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Photo 9 of 27 | | |


2012 - In Case of Fire ...

This candid shot of six firemen relaxing, each enjoying a piece of watermelon outside Fire Hall No. 2, was taken by Thomas Heath around 1913. In addition to being fire chief, Heath was also a keen amateur photographer. His candid photographs capture a different side of a fireman’s life. They show firemen at ease playing cards, smoking a pipe and trying to pass the idle hours. Heath’s photographs can be at times touching, revealing and even comical.

Date: [ca. 1913]

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Photo 10 of 27 | | |


2012 - In Case of Fire ...

The building of the University of Saskatchewan on the east side of the river and the need for fire protection service to Nutana prompted the construction of Fire Hall No. 3 located on Eleventh Street near Broadway. Opened in January, 1912, the two-door hall contained living quarters for six firemen as well as a private room for the captain in charge. The Nutana water tower was located behind the hall.

Date: 1912.

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Photo 11 of 27 | | |


2012 - In Case of Fire ...

Dressed in their finest suits, the men of Fire Hall No. 2 said farewell to 1912 and welcomed the New Year with a dance in the recently opened hall. A snowstorm on Tuesday meant that the first day of 1913 was cold and snowy.

Date: December 31, 1912.

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Photo 12 of 27 | | |


2012 - In Case of Fire ...

A contingent from the Saskatoon Fire Department was included in Saskatoon’s first automobile parade held August 1, 1913. Fire chief Thomas Heath in his automobile was one of the three hundred and fifty cars in the parade, followed by two hose wagons. This one was brilliantly decked out with flags, streamers and other decorative material.

Date: August 1, 1913.

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Photo 13 of 27 | | |


2012 - In Case of Fire ...

The men of Fire Hall No. 1 pose beside the motor hose wagon inside the station. The establishment of the Saskatoon Fire Department as a fully paid department on May 1, 1909, meant the department was no longer volunteer. On duty practically 24 hours a day, firemen would lobby for better hours and wages. On May 29, 1918, they would form Local 80 of the International Association of Firefighters.

Date: [ca. 1910]

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Photo 14 of 27 | | |


2012 - In Case of Fire ...

A crowd of spectators gathers outside the National Trust Building at 273 Second Avenue South and Twentieth Street to watch a fire on the second floor of the building. At the time, during the mid-1910s, the second floor housed the offices of the Royal Northwest Mounted Police and the Maclean, Hollinrake and Moxon Law firm.

Date: 1915.

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Photo 15 of 27 | | |


2012 - In Case of Fire ...

An unidentified fireman stands beside the hose wagon in his firefighting uniform, circa 1920. The fire helmet and coat were designed for durability and to withstand water, providing the firefighter with some degree of protection.

Date: [ca. 1920]

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Photo 16 of 27 | | |


2012 - In Case of Fire ...

In a game played at the Exhibition Stadium, the Firemen captured the 1931-32 Municipal Hockey League Championships for the second year in a row, by defeating the Street Railway team 2-1. The winning team has been identified as (back row, left to right): William Cameron, Jim Feather, Earl Millhouse, Cliff Bowerman, Bert Davidson, Albert (Casey) Jones, Jack Fraser. Front row (left to right): Jack Parsons, George Robbins, Charles Stark, Ed Wyman, Ray Feather.

Date: 1932.

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Photo 17 of 27 | | |


2012 - In Case of Fire ...

Harvest on the prairies during the Second World War was difficult with many young men fighting overseas. These Saskatoon firemen helped with the 1944 harvest. They have been identified as (left to right): George Robins, Captain Malcolm Wallace, Jim Bruce, Earl Millhouse, Bud Elliott, Frederick Sheard, Thomas McDermid.

Date: 1944.

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Photo 18 of 27 | | |


2012 - In Case of Fire ...

The Saskatoon Firemen would defeat the teachers two games straight to capture the 1947 Civic Softball League Championship and the trophy donated by Birney’s Hardware. They would qualify for the Northern Saskatchewan Senior B finals, but were defeated by the North Battleford Cardinals.The team members have been identified as (back row, left to right): Jack Fraser, Gordon Buzzell, Leonard Craig, John Mitchell, Edgar Bocking, Bill Davie, Eric Falk, Edward Wayman. Front row: Warren Cantelon, Peter Sims, Albert Matchett, William Vandale. Bat boy: Bob Upton.

Date: 1947.

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Photo 19 of 27 | | |


2012 - In Case of Fire ...

Victoria Rooms at 309 Avenue B south had been condemned as a fire hazard in 1949 and all tenants had moved out. Fire broke out in the old building on February 24, 1950. By the time firemen arrived, the building was a raging inferno. The nearest fire hydrant was located at the corner of Avenue B and Twentieth Street. To protect the fire hoses, bus service in the street was temporarily interrupted until city workmen could lay planks and cinders.

Date: February 24, 1950.

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Photo 20 of 27 | | |


2012 - In Case of Fire ...

A three-alarm fire August 3, 1951 would leave the premises of the Winnipeg Paint and Glass Company and Canada Egg Products gutted. The fire was believed to have started in the coal dust of an empty boxcar and quickly spread to the adjacent buildings. Poor water pressure and milling crowds of curious spectators hampered the firemen’s efforts.

Date: August 6, 1951.

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