The Railways of Ottawa

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

Ottawa West Canadian Pacific Union Passenger Depot Burned 14 November 1895.

Ottawa Free Press 14 November 1895

The Canadian Pacific depot is in ashes.  It was the scene of a fierce blaze which raged from 6 o'clock this morning steadily for more than two hours.  The building was of wood and therefore of an inflammable nature affording every inducement for a big fire.
Full description.--
The C.P.R. depot was once before the scene of a conflagration but escaped the big conflagration at the Chaudiere a few years ago when the hotel opposite and many of the surrounding frame structures were destroyed.

Ottawa Journal 14 November 1895

CPR depot burnt.
Four charred walls are all that remains to show that there was once a C.P.R. depot in Ottawa. The building was almost totally destroyed by fire about six o'clock this morning.
A lot more with drawing  This was not covered in the late edition of the Journal which is available on

Ottawa Citizen 15 November 1895

Fire Wipes Out the Union Depot and Mr. C. W. Spencer Arrives to Size Up the Situation. The Central Station Scheme Under Consideration.

Passengers from the west had rather a warm reception at the C. P. R. station yesterday morning. When the Montreal express steamed in at six o'clock the station building was all ablaze. It made a furious fire. The structure, entirely of wood, burned up like a bon fire. The flames crept into every crevice of the woodwork, and in fifteen minutes after the night constable gave the alarm from the box across the street, the station was past saving.
There was a prompt response from the firemen, who laid hose from the three nearest hydrants. The pressure was excellent, and torrents of water were soon turned on to the station and the neighboring buildings, but it looked as if the best that could be done was to save the latter from ignition. This of itself was no easy task, for the embers flew in all directions, covering the roofs of the freight sheds and platform roofing. Several times the main freight shed, just across the tracks, took fire, but the watchfulness of the brigade prevented spread of the flames. An hour after the fire started it had cleaned out the upper portion of the station building and reduced the waiting rooms below, into a smoking ruin.
The Alarm.
Constable Cowan, who was on night duty at the station, first noticed the appearance of fire. The flames seemed to break out in the station master's office, adjoining the station building at the north. He turned in an alarm from the nearest box, ran back and roused up Ticket Agent Lawrence O'Connell. By this time the fire had caught the upper northern wall, between the office and the main station building. It was burning fiercely and the operators in the train despatcher's office, Messrs. Rose and Brown, had a lively time in gathering up a few office effects and rushing them outside. With the assistance that soon arrived, they managed to save considerable of the belongings of the company in the upstairs rooms. But the rapid advance of the fire soon cut off approach to the offices by the stairway.
The train despatcher's office, the offices of the district superintendent and the general offices in the upper flat of the main building were gutted, while the deluge from half a dozen hose lines drenched the waiting rooms, restaurant and ticket offices on the ground floor of the main building. The express office was burned, while the baggage room adjoining was pretty much destroyed by fire and its contents demolished by the flames or destroyed by water. Besides dozens of pieces of baggage, there were in the room a considerable quantity of railway appliances. These and all the mail posted in the public box during the.night were lost in the fire. The company's mail was lost, but when the ticket agent was notified of the fire he procured what morey there was in the office, $650, and one of his coats, and got out. As the fire is now known not to have started in the vicinity of the furnace in the basement, its origin is till a mere matter of conjecture.
 What Mr. Spencer Says.
Mr. C. W. Spencer, general superintendent of the eastern division, arrived in the city early last evening on his special car, "Rosemere." After viewing the state of affairs and roughly calculating the damage, Mr. Spencer stated to a Citizen reporter that, for the present, temporary repairs would be made to the building and in prder to provide accommodation for the offices completely destroyed, a structure would be erected between the station and the express building, some fifty yards on the west.
As to whether the building would be torn down and replaced by a new temporary station Mr. Spencer said that nothing was decided, yet in that regard. It would be next week before that would be known. However, he could state that, if a new station should be erected, the location would be changed, but it would still be in tihe same vicinity. The yards, in that event, would also undergo considerable alteration.
Bad Time to Build.
"It is very inconvenient," said he, "that the fire occurred at this time of year, for it would be difficult to make a good job of a new building now. The Canada Atlantic Railway Company very kindly offered us the use of their line to their Elgin street station, but we are so situated, that to make that circuit around the city would seriously interfere witih the working of our present schedule time bill."
Speaking furtlher about a new station, Mr. Spencer stated that it would take about four weeks to build one, should they decide to do so. The original cost of the station destroyed was $24,000, and: the. damage by the fire is estimated at $10.000.
Asked as to the probability of the C. P. R. running into the. projected central station, Mr. Spsncer stated that the time had not come for them to state their policy in that regard. At any rate, said he we will always have to maintain a station at the west end of the city for the accommodation of the public,
Mr. Spencer will return to-day to Montreal.

Ottawa Journal 15 November 1895

The statement of an evening paper that the wires of the uptown C. P. R. telegraph office were rendered useless by yesterday's fire at the Union depot is not correct. These wires do not pass through the depot, and there was no interference.

Updated 26 October 2021

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