The Railways of Ottawa

Finding No. 21   Railway Structures Destroyed (Mainly) by Fire

Grand Trunk Eganville Station and Freight Shed Destroyed by Fire 22 April 1915

Ottawa Citizen 23 April 1915

Eganville Station Burned.
EGANVILLE, Ont., April 23. As Mr. J. P. Smith, agent at the Grand Trunk Railway station here, sat in his office about eight oclock last night he heard a crackling sound coming from the freight shed that adjoined the office. He opened the door and found big flames sweeping through the place. His wife was out on the station platform; upstairs was their invalid son. Smith hurried upstairs to the rooms above the station building where they lived, to get their boy, who was lying helpless on his bed. He got him out to a place of safety and a few minutes later the shed and station buildings. which were built of wood, were a mass of flames. All the freight in the shed, of which there was a considerable quantity, was destroyed, as was everything else in the building, including $50 in cash in the till, all the company's papers, and the Smiths' furniture.
The loss will total about $6,000 covered by insurance. Just what caused the fire is not known.

Library and Archives Canada RG 46 vol. 1546 file 26257 Complaint of service at Eganville
9 September 1915 report from Inspector W.S. Blyth

I went to Eganville and inspected facilities for handling freight, express and baggage. I found a combination coach and baggage car used as a station the office in the baggage end, the other end used as a waiting room with seating capacity for about 25 people. At the east end of this car there is a box car standing on rails about nine feet away from the station platform, which is used for storing freight and in many instances does not afford adequate facility. The entrance to this car is gained through a side door over three by twelve inch planks, one end of which rests on the station platform, the other on the truss rod of the car. There is no storage facility for express or baggage, and in some cases damage has been caused, by rain, to bread in baskets and to other perishable foods. This station was burned about 22 April and there has been nothing done so far in the way of erecting a new one.

I would recommend that the GTR be asked to erect a platform between the station platform and the car now being used for freight storage, level with the car door, so that freight can be trucked from the way-car over a gang plank, or rolled if contained in barrels, and that a small shed be erected at the west end of the station platform for the storage and shelter of baggage and express, with flooring so the trucks can be run in and out, with a door provided for same, which can be locked, and that an extra storage car for rough freight be provided to take care of such complaints as Mr. Scott has made, and do away with demurrage created by the company's failure to provide proper storage. The above be furnished promptly to relieve the present situation, and that the building of a new station be given the earliest possible consideration.

11 September 1915 from GTR
Regrets they cannot undertake the work of erecting a new station at Eganville immediately on account of financial conditions and the general depression in business, but that as soon as conditions become normal the erection of a new station, to replace that destroyed by fire, would receive prompt attention. In the meantime we have placed a coach and car at Eganville and fixed same up to take care of all passenger and freight traffic offering at that point.

15 August 1916 from Council of Grattan
It is certainly a disgrace to have an old box car placed on a side track for the past few years and call it a place to do business.

2 September 1916 from GTR
We have not yet started the work of rebuilding the station nor do we see our way to do so this year as we desire to wait until conditions become more settled. At the present time we have cars provided for offices, waiting room ad freight shed and these cars are being kept in good condition and are sufficient to take care of the needs of this point.

9 September 1916 from Geo Spencer Chief Operating Officer
This station burned down 18 months ago and there are two other stations on the Ottawa division not yet rebuilt after fires.
Put some pressure on the GTR.
The returns are good and traffic is heavy and boxcars doing service as a station at Eganville cannot be made satisfactory.

15 September 1916 Board to GTR
Show cause why an order should not go directing the station to be rebuilt

19 September 1916 from GTR
This would be a most inopportune time for the Board to issue an order, as we already have in hand on the Ottawa division the erection of the station at Alexandria as well as the erection of a number of bridges which will take up to time of our B&B staff for a number of months to come. It is almost impossible for us to secure labour and the prices of all material have advanced so that the erection of a station at Eganville at this time would cost us 50% more than it would under normal conditions. Ask the Board to defer the issue of an order. We feel our patrons are not being in the least inconvenienced as we have provided adequate accommodation for them.

28 September 1916 from Geo Spencer to Asst Chief Commissioner
The erection of the station building at Alexandria is being done by contract. Labour is scarce and the prices of materials have advanced but the company has found it convenient to proceed with the erection of improved station accommodation at Coburg (ferry dock shelter), Dominion (remodelling passenger station), Port Coborne (new station). Station at Stoney Creek was destroyed by fire in June 1915, 2 months subsequent to the Eganville station having been destroyed by fire and a new station was built thereat and put into service on or about 1 December 1915.

Station buildings are generally insured to the extent of about 50% of their value and it is just possible that the company were reimbursed to the amount of $1,500 or thereabouts, which should go a long way towards providing a new structure.

Board of Railway Commissioners Order No. 25490 of 3 October 1916
Grand Trunk Ry. ordered to erect a station building at Eganville by 1 Dec 1916.

Board of Railway Commissioners Order No. 25703 of 6 December 1916
Time extension for construction of station authorized by 25490 to 31 May 1917.

11 August 1917 from Inspector W. Blyth
I went to Eganville on 3rd inst. I found the foundation completed, a rough floor laid and side walls which are of wool, under erection.. I am of opinion that with the force at work this job should be completed by September 15th .

21 September 1917 from Inspector Blyth Painting is almost completed and the forms for coping of the platform are in place, and the cement work under way. The entire work should be finished and the station ready for operation before 1st October. Some delay has occurred since my last report owing to labour shortage.

Updated 5 October 2021

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