AFTERMATH OF THE TERRIBLE DISASTER
God is good. Notwithstanding the fact that Fernie and adjoining territory was devastated by flames, and thousands of people left homeless, this great misfortune awakened in the hearts of the people that love of humanity that oft-times lies dormant in times of peace and fortune. With the first Macedonian cry of distress that was flashed forth on wires from Fernie, when the homes of the people were being consumed by fire and the business blocks of the town were crumbling beneath the flames, at once the activity of the people was pronounced, and from the east, from the west, from the Northwestern States there came back words of sympathy and good cheer, with the promise of supplies of every kind and money as well. Carloads of food and thousands of dollars in money were started for the stricken district while the smoke was still rising from the embers of the ruined city. The imaginary line that divides Canada from the United States was absolutely eliminated in Fernie's great time of trouble. The Union Jack and the Stars and Stripes were folded together and the subjects of Canada and the United States had only one thought in view, and that was to give assistance to the afflicted. Spokane was among the first to send supplies, accompanied by a commissioner representing their Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Findley, who looked after the proper distribution of the same. Cranbrook was early in the field, sending a carload of supplies on the evening of the disastrous day, and when the first relief train arrived in Cranbrook at 4 o'clock in the morning every home in the city was open for the refugees, and every man was present acting as a member of the great committee of reception to show the homeless ones places where they could be properly cared for. Moyie, Nelson, Creston, Fort Steele, Elko, Marysville, Kimberley, Wycliffe, Wardner, Wasa, in fact every community in this part of the country opened their homes and their hearts to the people of Fernie. It was the grandest outpouring of human sympathy that this part of Canada has ever witnessed, an evidence of the fact that Western people have Western hearts, and that in time of trial and sorrow there is no discrimination between creed and sect. The modern idea of Christianity is lost sight of and all seem to be possessed of one idea, and that is to follow the example set by the lowly Nazarene, love your fellow man.
The Herald is proud to say that here in Cranbrook every woman and man did their duty. There was no surcease of labour, there was no fault-finding, there was no hypocritical rivalry, but on the contrary, every one did their duty.
The loss will probably be, including everything, between five and six million dollars. The mortality, so far as can be estimated at the present time, will not exceed twenty lives. This latter fact is most marvellous, considering the terrible struggle that thousands of people had to escape from a hurricane of flames, the like of which has never been known since the devastating fires of Minnesota, some twelve years ago.
A crisis like this makes heroes, and the names of all the heroes that were created a week ago last Saturday, will never be known. There were men, there were women and there were children even, who performed such deeds of heroism in saving lives at the risk of their own that would entitle them to all the medals of the universe given for work of this kind. But these men, these women and these children, were not looking for medals, but simply for the safety of their wives, their husbands, their sons and their daughters, and a chance to once more take up the work of life and remain good citizens in the future, as they were in the past.
Fernie will rebuild. Fernie is populated by a people that is possessed with that indomitable western spirit that knows no such thing as failure, but continually follows the loadstone of success. There will be suffering in Fernie because there is bound to be hardship, but we who have gone through pioneering in the west, have met these conditions and conquered them. The Fernie people will do the same. Although there have been many distressing incidents, many losses, and many sorrowful cases of family distress, yet all will arise to the emergency presented and come out stronger and better than ever.
Poor Fernie today, glorious Fernie tomorrow. That will be her motto, and the people will live up to it.
THE REFUGEES LEAVING TOWN
Last Tuesday arrangements were made by the local committee to have the Fernie refugees returned to their home. Most of the men had returned a few days before to prepare places for their families and that is why they were so anxious to have the women and children come back. Notice was given that a special train would be run out of here on Tuesday afternoon, but owing to some difficulty in getting an engine into shape the departure of the train was delayed from hour to hour until it was too late to send such a large contingent of women and children, as the committee was anxious not to have them arrive in Fernie in the darkness of nighttime. Consequently it was arranged that a special train would leave about noon time on Tuesday and at 11 o'clock the platform at the CPR depot was crowded with between four hundred and five hundred women and children, all having their packs and bundles and waiting anxiously for the arrival of the train that was to carry them back to their destitute homes. Such a scene as was presented on that platform may God never let Cranbrook see again. There were mothers with from two to ten children, the mothers worn out with the cares and troubles of last week, the children sick and peevish, and all of them in a state that might be termed a combination of despair and hopefulness. Home is something that serves as a magnet to draw the highest in our life as well as the humblest. No better illustration of that grand old song was ever presented than the scene at the Cranbrook depot, "Be it ever so humble there's no place like home." Every father, every mother and every child seemed to be possessed with one desire only, and that was to get back to Fernie, notwithstanding the fact that their homes were piles of ashes and their habitation for a few months at least, must be only tents or shacks, without any of the comforts which they had enjoyed prior to the fire.
Owing to the troubles on the CPR that enforced a lack of equipment, three cabooses and a coach were all that were possible to supply. As a result the rush for accommodation when the train arrived at the station, was in some instances brutal and inhuman. There were men who forgot that they were men, there were women who forget that they were women who suffered from the inhumanity of man. The wild desire of all created a chaotic condition, and notwithstanding the earnest efforts of the city police and the CPR officials, confusion created confusion. But notwithstanding all the difficulties presented, all of those who were ready to go were given comfortable quarters. The women and children were given seats in the coaches and the men were comfortably located in the box cars with the baggage. The CPR did all they could under the circumstances to carry the people back to their homes in the best possible condition.
Cranbrook, BC. Aug. 8, `08
Dear Sir: Permit me, through the columns of your paper , to thank the noble citizens of Cranbrook for their magnanimity, generosity and sympathy manifested towards the sufferers of the Fernie catastrophe.
Language fails to express our gratitude to the large hearted men and women of Cranbrook, who have proved friends indeed to all in this, our time of direct need. I am sure that I voice the sentiments of all when I say that the memory of such great kindness will remain as long as the memory of that awful calamity - as long as memory lasts.
From the genial mayor down to the last citizen all are worthy of highest praise, and we can but say to you in the words of the Great Friend of humanity, "Inasmuch as Ye have done it unto one of the least of these, my brethren, Ye have done it unto Me."
Believe me, yours gratefully,
Mrs. (Rev) Lashley Hall.
(one of the sufferers.)
Cranbrook, BC, Aug. 10, 1908
Dear Sir: Amongst many others, the tiny town of Elko has also contributed to the relief of the sufferers of the Fernie disaster, storekeepers, hotel-keepers and private citizens gave generous hospitality. Of worthy mention also is FW Adolph, of Baynes Lake, who gratuitously assisted in the purchase of clothing for the needy. The friends at Baynes Lake also sent bundles of clothing which were very acceptable. We take this opportunity of thanking them and Mr. Adolph, on behalf of the sufferers.
Believe me, dear sir, yours gratefully,
Mrs. (Rev) Lashley Hall.
(A Fernie sufferer)
ATTACKING THE SERIOUS PROBLEM
Fernie, Aug. 7. - With characteristic energy property owners and business men are now grappling with the problem of rebuilding the city. That the new city will be built on a more substantial and pretentious scale than ever before, is conceded by those whose opinions i such matters are of value. Owing to the lateness of the season it is improbable that any structures of importance can be completed before next spring, but much can be accomplished in preparatory work. In the meantime wooden structures of a store and a half, to comply with the special fire bylaw, will be erected, and the ordinary business of the town re-established. Today one bank opened its doors to the public, in a neat building erected in 12 hours, and by tomorrow the other two monetary institutions will be prepared to transact business in new premises. Contracts have already been let for the erection of three hotels, two large stores, and a livery stable, while the Fort Steele Brewery and the government building will be started in a few days. Before the fire Fernie could boast of possessing some of the finest stores west of Winnipeg, but if the plans of the largest merchants come to fruition these stores will be rebuilt on a grander scale than ever. The terrible calamity which has overtaken the city will but prove a blessing in disguise. The town has been taught a lesson which should be taken to heart seriously by many towns and cities in the west. Summer after summer we are familiar with the sight of burning brush on the very outskirts of many towns. What is everybody's business, and little attention is paid to these sources of danger at their doors. They trust to a kind providence that no disturbing wind will fan the slumbering embers into an uncontrollable conflagration, and take no precautionary measures to extinguish the incipient blaze, nor cut away the rapidly accumulating underbrush that is such a menace to safety. Fernie has paid the penalty in a manner which has appalled the whole Dominion, and this object lesson may not be lost upon other communities. The future of the city is bright. A people who can pass through the disheartening chastisements that have been repeatedly inflicted on this young city in the few years of its existence and even present a smiling, cheerful face to the world, must have some latent power within them that will enable them to become one of the most progressive and prosperous communities in this well-favoured province. Throughout this last calamity no despondent note has been heard, no complaining of the blow that fate has dealt, but rather the whole atmosphere has been permeated with expressions of faith, an abiding faith in the future, and that faith will be justified. The fugitives are returning to their devastated town with hearts brimful of gratitude to those who extended the hand of brotherhood to them in the hour of their distress. No words of theirs can express the full measure of generous hospitality they received at the hands of citizens of neighbouring towns. Brave Cranbrook, that opened its doors to receive them at a moment's notice and took them to their homes; big-hearted Nelson, ever to the forefront in hours of emergency; Moyie, Marysville, Elko, and other places too numerous to mention, all vying with one another to succour the afflicted. It is a touch of nature such as this that binds closer the bonds of friendship than anything else, and the remembrance of these kindly actions by sister towns will ever remain green in the memory of the citizens of Fernie. The sympathy that is felt for the afflicted town cannot better be illustrated than by recording the fact that on the news of the great disaster reaching Pincher Creek, the aged and revered Father Lacombe, the saintly, fearless pioneer missionary, took the first train to the stricken city to personally convey his sympathy to the people. Nor has the sympathy and kindness been confined to Canada. Spokane, Rexford, Kalispell, Gateway and other American towns have rushed to the front with generous donations of money and provisions, till the city is nearly overcome with the magnitude of the offerings.
SOME MOYIE VICTIMS
The Fernie fire hit some ex-Moyieites pretty hard. WM. Mills and his wife and children came up on Sunday night's special car. They lost everything in the fire aside from the clothes on their backs. They found a good home here with Mr. and Mrs. Harry Swan. Mr. Mills has returned to Fernie and will rebuild as soon as he can procure building material.
Mrs. Jennings, sister of Wm. Mills, was another victim. She was interested in the Central hotel and her loss will be nearly $30,000. She came up to Moyie with the refugees.
Barney Wilson, the violinist, was one of the first to set foot on the platform when the trainload of refugees pulled into the station. He carried his violin under his arm, and hiked for Frank Johnston's hotel.
Jas. McMaster, at one time in charge F. P. Burns' shop here, saved only his clothing. He came to Moyie, but has returned again to help rebuild for the firm for which he was working.
Mrs. Geo. Wright's sister and her husband, T. Bullen, were also victims. They came up on Sunday's train and are now with Mr. and Mrs. Wright.
Fred Atkinson, who works at the St. Eugene, got a wire from Fernie Friday that his brother was caught in the explosion at the Fernie mine and was killed. When Fred reached Fernie his brother was about the first man he met. He was only knocked out by the gas and had recovered. However, he was in the fire the next day, and was shipped as one of the refugees back to Cranbrook. He is again in Moyie.
MOYIE WAS ACTIVE
When the news of Fernie's calamity reached Moyie not a moment was lost in getting ready to offer relief. A general meeting was held at McGregor hall. Committees were appointed as follows:
Officers - FJ Smyth, chairman; TE Kelly, secretary; SG Blaylock, treasurer.
Finance - AP Macdonald, representing the business men; SG Blaylock, the mine; WJ Feltham, the K.of P.'s; TE Kelly, the Miner's Union; FJ Smyth, the I.O.O.F.; JA Johnson, the Porto Rico Lumber company and John Taylor.
General Committee - A Ferris, Chas. A. MacKay, SG Blaylock, JW Fitch, PF Johnston, HH Dimock, Hugh McDonald, EA Hill, BE Taylor, R Campbell, JP Farrell, JS MacEachern, Malcolm NcNeill, MJ Gill, Joe McLaren, Harry Swan, Chas. MacDonald.
To Meet trains - Joe McLaren, MJ Gill, JW Fitch, H Swan, EO Kamm, Hugh McDonald, WJ Feltham, Chas. Messenger, Ed. Bergland, Cas. A MacKay.
Transportation - TE Kelly, SG Blaylock, AP MacDonald.
Intelligence committee - TE Kelly, PF Johnston, Harry Gamble.
Clothing for men - MJ Gill, CA McKay, John McTavish.
Clothing for ladies - CA MacKay, R Campbell.
Refugee boarding house - Mr. and Mrs. A Feris, Mrs. Foote, Dr. Coffing, Mrs. Wappes, Mrs. Alex Cameron, R Campbell.
The finance committee got busy and circulated subscription lists. The way the money came in was a surprise to all. One hotel man put his name down for $200, and several others followed with $100 each. Then came several others with $50 and $25. Nearly every man on the St. Eugene payroll gave a shift's pay and many of them gave more. The Miners' Union, the Odd Fellows and the Knights of Pythias contributed liberally. In all about $3,000 was raised.
The three hundred refugees who came here were well provided for. They were cared for at the hotels and private houses. In one home alone 23 found a welcome shelter. Special meal tickets were printed for adults and children and these were given out to all who required them.
The Moyie ladies rendered valuable assistance in the way of making clothing for the women and children.
MORE FUNDS NEEDED
MAYOR TUTTLE ISSUES ANOTHER CALL FOR AID
Fernie, BC, Aug 9. - Mayor Tuttle has prepared the following appeal for further aid and has handed it to the press agents for publication:
To the people of Canada and the United States. On behalf of the citizens of Fernie, which was almost totally destroyed by fire one week ago. I venture to make a further appeal for financial assistance. The generous response to our first call for aid has enabled the council and committees to make satisfactory provision for the most urgent needs. The extent of the distress which has been caused is only now being revealed, however, and the great work of relief lies ahead of us. With the sacrifices of the railway companies and the heroism shown by their employees at the time of the fire were responsible for the saving of hundreds of lives, and the fact 5000 people have since been kept from starvation can be attributed to the bounty of friends, not only in this country but in Spokane and other portions of the United States.
Further supplies will be required before long and in the meantime money is needed to furnish protection to the population in various ways. Sanitary conditions must be restored, shelter must be provided against the coming of inclement weather, medical supplies must be purchased and every other precaution must be taken to prevent an outbreak of disease which is at this time our greatest menace.
Out of 800 dwellings, only a few remain, which means that about 150 people out of a population of 6000 have shelter over the heads. The rest are homeless, without furniture, without clothing, without household utensils, without food, without supplies or resources of any kind. A realization of the actual situation is, we consider, alone necessary to give the outside world a true idea of the pressing need for financial aid.
WW Tuttle, Mayor.
FERNIE FIRE LOSS AND INSURANCE
CLOSE CANVASS PLACES LOSS TO INSURANCE COMPANIES AT $2,000,000.
Fernie, BC, Aug. 9. - The following is a table of individual losses in the recent fire and the insurance, in some cases merely estimated. Numerous owners of property are away from the city and insurance records being destroyed makes it impossible to give out but few of the losses sustained by the companies, but after a close canvass of the insurance agents and the adjusters on the ground, the conclusion has been arrived at that the insurance losses will foot somewhere between $2,000,000 and $2,225,000. In the case of the larger losses reported, fairly accurate figures have been obtained from the owners but in many of the other businesses of smaller magnitude, the figures are approximate.
|Dobson & Wellingham, dairy, feed and opera house||$14,000||$7,000|
|JE McEwen, baker and confectioner||$8,500||*****|
|JH Scott, Barber||$500||$300|
|SF Wallace, Fernie hotel||$45,000||$15,000|
|NE Suddaby, drugs and books||$15,000||$10,000|
|Dr. Wrigglesworth, dentist||$1,200||*****|
|Fred Vance, barber shop||$1,400||*****|
|Mr. Muirhead, fruit and confectionery||$3,500||*****|
|AW Bleasdale, Palace Drug store||$7,500||$5,000|
|Bank of Hamilton, safe and fixtures||$1,500||$1,000|
|Lockhart & Gillespie, clothing||$8,200||$5,000|
|JD Quail, hardware||$50,000||$10,000|
|Liphardt & Watson, block, goods, fixtures and building||$25,000||$12,000|
|Mrs. Waggett, milliner||$2,500||*****|
|Fred Johnson, Semi - Ready clothing||$4,200||*****|
|CPR Commercial telegraph office||$250||*****|
|Ross & Alexander, law office||$4,000||$1,500|
|CE Lyons, accountant and insurance||$500||$300|
|J Carmichael, tailor||$1,500||*****|
|Thos. Beck, confectionery||$5,500||*****|
|Wm. Ingram, new building||$2,500||*****|
|Robt. Moore, manager Waldorf hotel||$24,000||$11,000|
|M Mazinoble, repair shop and contents||$400||*****|
|Johnson & Falkoner, PO building and contents||$25,000||$11,000|
|WJ Blundell, groceries||$4,600||$3,000|
|Sherwood Herchmer, law office||$2,500||$2,000|
|Dr. Higgins, office||$1.500||$500|
|JW Gates, King Edward hotel||$15,000||$8,000|
|A Hamilton, tin shop||$1,000||*****|
|Al Ruzeto, Roma hotel||$10,500||$6,000|
|Fred Hanley, livery stable||$7,500||*****|
|Crawford & Ruzeto, livery||$6,000||$3,000|
|L McDonald, blacksmith||$6,000||$2,600|
|Mr. Casey, steam laundry||$11,000||*****|
|Great Northern hotel||$14,000||*****|
|James Severn, Central hotel||$12,500||$6,000|
|Gladston Miners' union, new opera house and fixtures||$8,000||none|
|Todd block and E. Todd||$19,000||$11,000|
|JH Reid & Co, furniture||$7,800||*****|
|Dominion Meat market||$1,750||*****|
|Crows Nest Trading Co. and A McDonald, wholesale||$125,000||$85,000|
|WW Tuttle and C Davey, Royal hotel||$19,500||$8,000|
|Canadian Bank of Commerce||$18,000||$8,500|
|Small clothing and notion store adjoining above||$2,000||*****|
|John Sorkey, Northern hotel||$15,000||$6,000|
|JL McIntyre, barber||$1,500||$800|
|Whimster & Co, hardware||$30,000||$13,000|
|CC Wright, jeweller||$13,000||$4,000|
|JR McDougall, boots and shoes||$4,500||*****|
|S Marks, groceries||$1,000||*****|
|P Kennedy, lumber||$1,500||*****|
|M Barrigan, blacksmith||$1,250||*****|
|Lambert rooming house||$8,500||*****|
|Western Canada wholesale||$500||$500|
|Wallace & Pedlar, Free Press||$15,000||$8,000|
|U.M.W. of A., District Ledger||$18,000||$7,000|
|JF Spaulding, photographer||$5,400||$2,000|
|Calgary Cattle Co.||$4,500||$2,000|
|P Carasella, general merchant||$25,000||$12,000|
|Robischaud, Victoria hotel||$10,000||*****|
|GN Ry. Co.||$500,000||*****|
|MF & M Ry, Crows Nest Pass Coal Co. and Crows Nest Pass Electric Light Co.||$199,000||$120,000|
|Gray & Campbell, builders||$2,000||*****|
|Digby & Waldie, builders||$3,500||none|
|Hammond & McIntosh, electricians||$3,200||$1,100|
|Law & Fisher, attorneys||$2,500||$500|
|LP Eckstein, attorney||$5,800||$4,000|
|HW Herchmer, attorney||$2,500||$1,500|
|Pollock Wine Co.||$8,500||$4,000|
|Owl restaurant, building and contents||$1,800||*****|
|Elk Lumber Co.||$500,000||$250,000|
|Fernie Lumber Co.||$175,000||$96,000|
|Eastern BC Lumber Co.||$165,000||$100,000|
|Fort Steele Brewing Co.||$185,000||$75,000|
|Mr. Terry, second-hand store||$3,200||none|
|Secret societies and benevolent organizations||$12,500||none|
|City hall and jail||$6,500||*****|
|English church and rectory||$7,500||-------|
|Methodist church and parsonage||$8,500||$3,600|
|Presbyterian church and manse||$8,200||-------|
|GG Henderson block||$21,000||$11,000|
|Muirhead & Co, boots and shoes||$14,000||$7,000|
|W Ingram, Club cigar store||$2,000||-------|
***** Amount of insurance unknown.
Besides the above tabulated statement, there are a large number of small establishments, most of which faced the railway on Baker avenue in the Fernie hotel block and the block north of it, the owners of which can not be found, and the losses and insurance totally unknown. The only possible method of arriving at an estimate of the loss to residences and contents at the present time is to estimate the total number of houses destroyed in the district and taking an average as to loss. The number of such houses is in the neighbourhood of 700 and at a average value of $2,000 each, the loss in this line of property amount to $1,400,000. This is probably below the mark.
The losses reported by the different timber and milling companies do not include losses of timber burned, which at this date cannot be estimated, as fires are still burning, but that this loss is the greatest of the losses falling on the mills is without question.
AT THE RINK
EVERYTHING THERE WAS HANDLED IN A EXCELLENT MANNER
There is no question but that the commissariat department was well run, and those in charge of the rink and the arrangements made there for feeding the city's guests, have everyreason to congratulate themselves on the excellence of their work. LB VanDecar, who acted as chief steward, KF Oxley, of the Trites-Wood Co., Fernie, as first assistant; JW Joynette, the chief cook, G Coode, as first assistant cook, Mrs. Carlyle, Mrs. Jackson, Mrs. Carbary and Miss Cameron, in charge of the waiters, have each to be congratulated on the smooth, machinelike manner in which everything ran. As for provisions, they were ample, thanks to the carloads of food sent in from outside points. Mr. Oxley kindly gave the Herald a list of the provisions used and consumed by the 1200 to 2000 people three times a day. The list is a follows:
Fifty bushels of potatoes.
Fifteen cases of eggs.
Eight hundred pounds beef
Seven hundred pounds sugar
Three hundred pounds butter.
Four boxes plums
Thirty crates fresh plums
Five cases canned tomatoes
Five cases canned fruit
Two thousand loaves bread
Three hundred pounds ham
One hundred fifty pounds cooked ham
One hundred fifty pounds soda biscuits
One hundred fifty pounds rolled oats
Three hundred dozen cans jam
Forty pounds lard
Two hundred pounds cheese
Ten cases condensed cream and milk
One hundred pounds beans
Seven hundred pounds mixed vegetables
One barrel sweet biscuits
Two hundred pounds onions
Fifty pounds salt pork
One hundred fifty pounds coffee
One hundred fifty pounds tea
Four cases canned beef
One case lemons.
No estimate could be formed of milk used. Everything was cleaned up by Wednesday and the work of returning the table utensils to the merchants who loaned them was set about. All supplies left and there is a large quantity, together with cooking utensils, have been shipped to Fernie. All blankets have been fumigated and despatched to the Coal City for use by the relief committee there.
The following dispatch was received by the Winnipeg Free Press last weak from CP Walker, proprietor of the Walker theatre, Winnipeg. Mr. Walker has been spending a few weeks holiday in Northern Minnesota:
Fort Frances, Ont., Aug. 4. - I have just learned of the terrible disaster in British Columbia. I am sending $100 to the Free Press relief fund. The Walker theatre is at the disposal of the relief committee for any benefit entertainment on any or all nights during the first half of next week. (Sgd. ) CP Walker
THE KING'S MESSAGE
Ottawa, Aug. 6 - His Majesty, the King, has learned with the deepest regret of the devastation and loss of life caused by the fire in British Columbia. I am commanded to express His Majesty's heartfelt sympathy with the bereaved and homeless, and his earnest hope that the danger is now past.
The governor-general of the Australian Commonwealth cabled as follows:
Sydney, Aug. 5 - On behalf of the people of Australia I desire to offer the deepest sympathy with the bereaved and suffering from the disastrous forest fires.
The Herald has been asked to try and locate Glen Campbell and family, Norman Henderson and family and Clarence Herriet, all of whom were supposed to be in Fernie at the time of the fire.
Victoria Colonist: We had a very interesting and timely interview with Mr. William Fernie, the founder of the little city which has just been overwhelmed by disaster. Mr. Fernie points out one thing most important to be remembered by all interested in the building of the town. This is the necessity of clearing away much of the timber and underbrush close to the place. In his opinion it is because Fernie was situated in the heart of a thickly timbered area that the disaster fell upon it with such crushing fury. To many other points throughout the province, Fernie will contain a lesson in this respect.
Golden has raised the sum of $864.25 and Windermere, Wilmer and Athalmer $135.75 for the Fernie sufferers. A total for North East Kootenay of $1,000.00.
North Vancouver, Aug. 11 - The Knights of Pythias of the province are taking an active interest in the raising of funds for the relief of the sufferers in the great fire in the Crows Nest country. The Pythian lodge at Fernie was wiped out and some of the bretheren in Hosmer and other places also suffered. Grand Chancellor Brown, who has been on the coast for some time, has been working energetically on behalf of the stricken members and has issued a circular letter to all lodges in the provinces, appealing for funds. The response has been quick and substantial, Vancouver lodges along contributing $250. The grand chancellor has appointed a committee to handle the relief funds, consisting of F. Kummer, Cranbrook; Mayor Tuttle and Dr. Barour, Fernie. This committee will receive and disburse all moneys on behalf of stricken Pythians and their families and will account for same to the grand lodge.
The following letter was addressed to Chief Easy, of the Nelson fire department, Mayor Fink:
"Everything seems quiet today so I will take a few minutes to write you a short note. I
have been on the go for over a week now. Will be very glad to have a rest. We had to fight bush
fires here to save our town and with the Fernie trouble we had our hands full, but like good
Cranbrook people, we got in and drilled and met the occasion squarely in the face. As soon as we
were advised of the fire we got a few together and hurriedly packed a car of goods and rushed
them down, bringing back women and children and some men, in all about 2,500. We worked all
night Saturday arranging our committees and getting sleeping accommodation. We completed it
all, and not in any boasting way will venture to say that no more perfect arrangements were ever
made. Mr. VanDecar, of the Royal hotel, had personal charge of the dining department and no
better man ever had to do what he did. Mr. Pinkham had charge of the goods. He checked and
receipted for everything. I cannot say who did not work hard and well. We, the committee, have
had from two to four hours sleep each night and are still going, but hope to have everyone
returned home in two or three days. We expected to send out a trainload but on account of the
families being separated, we could not get the people out of town."
"We much regret this, as no doubt you were put to a lot of useless expense and
expectation. We regret the reports as to the CPR officials being unwilling to aid us. Some
serious mistake was here made as Mr. Brownlee and all his staff did all they could to help. They
placed every engine and car and operator and dispatcher at our disposal and did everything in
their power to aid the suffering. They carried people into Fernie here and from here to Fernie free
of charge for two or three days. As to the report of Conductor Caven putting man and woman
off the train, it should never have been mentioned, as Caven knew this man to be a bum brakeman
and wanted to ring in as a Fernie refugee. Caven, very rightly, would not stand for it. Everyone
here appreciates to the fullest extent Nelson's aid and good will and it is too bad that two or three
people should make so serious a mistake, which caused some very bad reports to reach the
"Well, chief, I had Chief McDougall here last Sunday morning and I tell you I pitied him, as he had two of his dear kiddies and did not know where the other two were. He had worked to try to save his town and had forgotten his dear ones. He deserves the very greatest sympathy. He has recovered all his children and they are here being well cared for. His wife is very ill and is not expected to live."
"I leave here about the last of the month and will be very glad to have letters from you to all the chiefs you know along the coast. I will be back in New Westminster in time for the meet and will be glad to assist in any preliminary work required. I thank you most sincerely for your kind words and trust that I am entitled to them. I did only what I considered my duty to do and what I would willingly do for any sister town if they were so unfortunate as Fernie. Poor old Fernie, she seems to be most unfortunate. I hope that this will be the end of her trouble and that she will be hereafter ever prosperous."
CRANBROOK HERALD - AUGUST 27, 1908
FERNIE LOSES FIVE MILLIONS
Fernie, BC., Aug. 18 - The insurance adjusters for the several companies holding risks in Fernie have been busy and have encountered little trouble in arriving at settlements. Below is a list of the losses sustained by each company.
Lloyds leads the list with $235,000, and the Phoenix of London is a good second with a total of $136,000. The total loss of property in the district is over $5,000,000 and the insurance will cover less that 40 per cent of it.
Lloyds, $235,000; Phoenix of London, $136,000; London & Liverpool & Globe, $78,000; Royal, $77,000; Canadian, $57,000; Norwich Union, $55,000; British American, $55,000; Anglo-American, $51,000; Pacific Coast, $47,000; London Mutual, $45,000; Atlas, $43,000; Union, $39,000; Equity, $38,000; Northern, $35,000; Western, $33,000; Queen, $33,000; Caledonian, $28,000; Dominion, $27,000; Phoenix of Hartford, $27,000; Phoenix of Brooklyn, $26,000; Sovereign, $25,000; Globe, $25,000; Sun, $24,000; German-American, $19,000; Mercantile, $17,000; St. Paul F & M, $16,000; Manitoba, $16,000; Law Union, $15,000; New York Underwriters, $15,000; North American, $15,000; Western Canada, $15,000; Traders, $14,000; Richmond & Drummond, $13,000; Aetna, $12,000; Montreal, $10,000; Connecticut, $7,500; Colonial, $4,000; Rimouski, $3,000; Imperial Underwriters;, $2,500; Nova Scotia, $2,000; Commercial Union, $2,000.
In addition to these amounts it is understood that the Canadian Pacific and Great Northern railway companies each carried insurance of about $200,000 on the properties which they lost.
(From the District Ledger)
At a meeting of the relief committee a resolution was passed appropriating $60,000.00 of the relief funds for building purposes. Fifty thousand dollars to be spent in buying lumber, and ten thousand dollars for building supplies, all material to be furnished those desiring same at cost price, the party receiving such assistance to have six years to repay without interest. Tenders will be called for, for supplying lumber and building material.
GO Buchanan, supervisor of the Dominion lead bounty, speaking at Rossland of the Fernie disaster, stated he had returned from East Kootenay, where he left PCT O'Hara, Dominion deputy minister of trade and commerce, who was in the city on August 5th with Mr. Buchanan visited the mines here, the smelter of the Consolidated company at Trail, the Blue Bell mine on Kootenay lake and the St. Eugene mine and concentrator at Moyie. Mr. O'Hara became an enthusiast in regard to mining before he left Moyie. From there he went to Fernie in order to see the scene of the great conflagration that swept over that city and vicinity. "The Blue Bell mine," said Mr. Buchanan, "is in splendid condition and is out-putting one hundred tons of raw ore a day and is getting good quality of lead concentrates by running it through its mill. There is a vast quantity of ore in the Blue Bell. It is low grade, to be sure, but it is one of the largest lead mines in the province, second only to the St. Eugene. It is owned by the Canadian Metals company, and SS Fowler, ME, is in charge of it."
Mr. Buchanan in speaking about the disaster experienced by Fernie said that he thought the government should come to the aid of that city by assuming its indebtedness. All of the resources of the city have been destroyed by fire, except the realty which it owns, and, as a consequence of this, it is without much credit with an indebtedness of about $50,000 against it. In order to provide itself with a fire department, city hall and other necessaries of a municipality, it must borrow money. Now the question naturally arises where can such capital be procured for a city already in debt, with many of its citizens in not the best financial condition? One way out of the difficulty which environs the municipality is for the provincial government to assume the present indebtedness. This would make a clean slate and what money is actually needed can be borrowed as the city's capacity in the way of meeting any obligations in the future is a sufficiently good risk to borrow enough money to put it on its feet again. Mr. Buchanan says he thinks the province would be justified, under the circumstances, in assuming Fernie's municipal obligations.
More on the Fernie Fire in Cranbrook Herald of August 27, 1908.
Photo Album relating to the Fernie fire.