The Railways of Ottawa

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

Canadian Pacific (K & P) Car Shops Destroyed by Fire 12 September 1905

Kingston Daily British Whig 12 September 1905

Car Works Aflame
K. P Railway sheds total loss by fire
Origin of the fire unknown - no water supply to be had - the contents were very valuable.

About half past 10 o'clock this morning, William Dixon, a pupil of the Depot School, was called to the door by his sister, who said he was wanted at home. The lad had scarcely reached the exit, when he turned around, exclaiming, "Please, Miss Penton, the car works are on fire'" At the time the alarm was given, both ends of the building were on fire. Needless to say the question of school was settled for the morning.
As rapidly as possible an alarm was sent in from box 21, and the local brigade made the long run in good time. They might just as well have remained at home, however, for all the good they did. Of what aid could a fire brigade be when  no water was at hand with which to extinguish the flames?  Such was the position of the fire laddies this morning. However, they kept up a hard fight as best they could, using pails of water, drawn from a neighboring well. By this means two old locomotives, which were formerly the property of the Brockville and Westport Railway but had lately been purchased by Cohen and Sussman, of this city, and lay on the side track, adjacent to the works, were saved.
About eleven o'clock the Merryweather engine arrived, but the flames had consumed all by that time. Even had it been on the scene from the first it is doubtful if any better results could have been obtained, as there was nothing to pump water from save the old well and the creek, which was nearly dry. The nearest hydrant was on Stephen Street.
The origin of the fire is a mystery. The works have not been in active operation for some time, but have not been altogether idle. No later than twenty minutes to ten this morning, it is said there were two employees about the place. A telephone message from the roundhouse was the first intimation received at the local railway offices of the conflagration.
K. & P. Car Works are situated some distance back from the Montreal Road, behind the Depot school, and where the railway track intersects the street. They were first opened in 1878, as a cooperative affair under the management of William Irwin. The next manager was J. H. Taylor, who afterwards became superintendent of the K. & P. Railway. The next chief executive was John Whitebread, who finished all standing contracts and also did some work for the C.P.R. The contents of the works were far more valuable than most persons would imagine, and consisted of some magnificent machinery, which was about to be moved to the K. & P. Roundhouse. It comprised steam - hammers, drills, planers, hydraulic presses, boring machines, etc. besides these, four box cars, the patterns of the railway, the snow ploughs and flangers were also totally destroyed, as well as engine number one, of the K. & P. railway. The cartage sleighs of the company were stored in the works also, and were consumed by the flames. They were not insured.
The firemen were engaged this afternoon in dampening the smoldering ruins, so that all danger would be overcome by sparks flying about, should the wind rise.
The estimated loss is $50,000, and the insurance $15,800 in the Western Assurance Company, the Union Assurance Society, and the Phoenix Assurance Company. The company formerly carried $32,600 insurance, but a short time ago dropped the considerable thereoff. The insurance is divided as follows shops and machinery $15,800; two box cars $500 each; five hay cars $300 each; 1 snow plough $1,000; one flanger  $400.

Ottawa Citizen 13 September 1905

Kingston and Pembroke Railway
Works burned with a loss of $30,000
Kingston September 12 -  Shortly after ten this morning, flames were discovered issuing from the K&P car shops at the Junction and in a short time they were a mass of ruins.  The waterworks system does not extend that far and so there was no water to put out the flames.  With difficulty a public school near at hand was saved.  The loss on the building is $10,000, and nearly $20,000 on contents.  There were an engine, five cars and machinery inside.  The loss will be covered by insurance.  The works were built in 1878 and afterward taken over by the Kingston and Pembroke Railway, who at one time employed 300.  They have not been used except for repairs since the CPR took over the K&P three years ago.  There is no clue as to the origin of the fire.  The companies involved are the Western, Phoenix and Union.

Identical wording in the
Chesterville Record 14 September 1905

Canadian Railway and Shipping World October 1905

The K&P car shops at Kingston were destroyed by fire Sept 12, the extent of the damage being placed at $50,000.  The shops have been unused for some time, but contained a lot of machinery, a locomotive, some box car patterns, etc.

Updated 13 October 2021

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