The Railways of Ottawa

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

Kingston and Pembroke Station at Harrowsmith Destroyed by Fire 23 October 1900

Kingston British Whig 23 October 1900

Fire at Harrowsmith
It Did Much Damage - Station and Warehouses Gone

A very disastrous fire occurred in Harrowsmith between three and four o’clock this (Tuesday) morning. The blaze was first noticed in a pig pen at the rear of W.J. Shibley’s grist mill. Quite a strong south wind was blowing at the time and the entire mill and elevator in connection was soon enveloped in flames. It finally spread to the K. & P. station and John Gallagher’s storehouse, and in a short time all these places were in ruins. At one time it was feared that the entire village would go, but fortunately this disaster was prevented by the prompt action of the people. Men, women and children worked with a will and confined the fire to the mill and station. Mr. Shibley’s house was threatened, the fire having spread to its barn yards, but its progress was allayed. Mr. Shibley values his property at $3,000 on which he had $2,000 insurance. In the mill was a carload of flour and feed besides general grists belonging to customers. The elevator contained 4,000 bushels of grain which Mr. Shibley had purchased for James Richardson & Sons, of this city. Mr. Shibley says that the Richardsons’ will have to bear this loss which amounts to $2,000. There were 400 bushels of grain in Mr. Gallagher’s store house, besides half a carload of salt, and seven or eight tons of hay, and his loss will amount to $700. No insurance. The K. & P. station was not a very pretentious looking building, and the residents will be glad of a new one. Everything of value was saved from it, and the loss of the stock itself will only be a few hundred dollars. Thirteen pigs belonging to Mr. Shibley were also destroyed.

When the blaze was at its worst burning shingles were carried a long distance. Some of these ignited Stewart’s store room and Mrs. Clark’s house, but they were extinguished before damage was done. The fire was probably the most dangerous within the history of the village and there is no doubt but that it was the work of an incendiary, whose object was for robbing. Once a month, Mr. Shibley pays out between $3,000 and $4,000 to the patrons of the Harrowsmith cheese factory and yesterday was the first day on which these monthly payments were made. Mr. Shibley would naturally have a large amount of money in his possession last night and it is quite evident that the fire bugs were after it. About ten o’clock last night, Mrs. Shibley noticed a man looking through one of the windows, but thought nothing unusual of it as Mr. Shibley had several men about the place working for him. Shortly after the blaze was noticed one resident saw a couple of men running down towards the marsh, and these fellows are thought to be the culprits. Their intention no doubt was to get everybody out of the Shibley residence to the fire and then get the money. But when Mr. Shibley ran out to the fire he made sure that the money was safe. It struck him that there was a scheme on hand to get the money and he left it in good keeping. But the money was nearly lost in another way, however. One of the men placed it in a cutter outside for the time being and this cutter finally took fire and had it not been noticed in good time the money would have gone up in smoke. During the progress of the fire nothing was stolen, so that the thieves must have made themselves scarce.

Toronto Star 24 October 1900

Shibley’s Mill a Warehouse and a Depot Burned By Incen-daries To-day

Kingston Oct 23 - Telegraphic communication with Harrowsmith is down but it is learned that early this morning Shibley’s grist and Gallagher's warehouse and the Kingston & Pembroke Railway station were burned entailing a considerable loss. It is thought the fire was of incendiary origin.

Hamilton Spectator 24 October 1900

Grist Mill Railway Station and Ware house Destroyed By Fire

Kingston Oct 23 - A blaze at Harrowsmith this morning destroyed the grist mill of W J Shibley the K. and P. statlon and Gallagher’s warehouse .The residents had to work with great energy to prevent the flames spreading to other parts of the village The fire was found first in a pig-sty near the grist mill. Mr Shiibley valued the grist mill and plant at $5,000 on which he had $2,000 insurance. In the elevator were 4,000 bushels of grain bought for Richardson Bros of this city. The loss on this is $2,000.
The fire is thought to have been incendiary in origin and it is suspected that the firebugs expected to rob Shibley who had much money in his possession. When the Shibleys ran out of the house Mr Shibley took money and put It into safe hands. The loss to the railway company and Mr Gallagher is about $1,000 apiece.
Also in 27 October 1900 Hamilton Spectator.

Almonte Gazette 2 November 1900

A fire last week nearly wiped out the village of Harrowsmith, Frontenac county. The local mill, railway station and warehouse were destroyed.

Updated 23 March 2024

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