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GREAT AYLMER FIRE OF 1921

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Map showing the path of the Great Fire.Hot ashes thrown into dry grass in the early afternoon of August 10, 1921, are said to have ignited the fire which started beside Holt’s livery stables, located on the south side of Main Street, just east of Bancroft. Fanned by a wind which increased in strength as the fire grew, the flames were driven in a northeasterly direction through the heart of town, cutting a swath of destruction two blocks wide and almost a mile long. Loss of personal property totally $750,000.

The Aylmer Volunteer Fire Department, aided by fire-fighting contingents from Hull and Ottawa, were helpless to cope with the raging flames. Using every means at their disposal, they concentrated their efforts along each side of the fire’s path, confining it to as narrow a track as possible.The ruins of Holt’s Hotel. The open spaces of both the town park and the old Charles Symmes property, situated on the north side of the park, played an important role in slowing the blaze and preventing it from spreading east of Broad Street. The fire continued up Broad Street, eventually burning itself out when it reached the farm land at the north edge of town.The only person to die as a direct result of the catastrophe was Mr. D. G. Lortie who was overcome while trying to lead a horse from his stable on the corner of Court Street and Notre Dame.

A great many of the old homes and established businesses were levelled in the blaze, and it was many years before The Ottawa Militia set up tents in the fairgrounds for some of the 700 people who were left homeless as a result of the fire.Aylmer could recover from the economic blow which had been dealt by the large-scale devastation.

**This publication is available for $15.00, plus shipping and handling, from the Aylmer Heritage Association, P. O. Box 476, Gatineau, Quebec J9H 5E7. Tel: (819) 684-6809. E-mail: heritage.aylmer@ca.inter.net