Port Hope Fire Brigade (1891)


Until the incorporation of Port Hope with a Board of Police (1834), there was no organization of any sort to fight fires. With incorporation came the appointment of three fire wardens - William Lee, William Mitchell and William Furby - who were to inspect all buildings to ensure safe conditions and to see that every householder was equipped with buckets and ladders. The wardens also directed the efforts of the people at fires. For many years they were appointed annually and were the sole authorities when it came to fires.

William Lee formed a Hook and Ladder Company in 1842, but it had a short existence. A proper Fire Brigade was established on 20 Jan 1846 at a public meeting, where some sixty members signed on. Fifty buckets and three small engines were purchased from Marcus F. Whitehead. In February 1849, Rescue engine was purchased from T. Snook of Rochester for $750 and Rescue Fire Company was formed, with N. Kirchhoffer as Captain. The engine pumped water from any stream or well near a fire and was hand-operated.

Union engine was acquired in 1853, Victoria engine in 1856 and corresponding companies were formed for them. Hook and Ladder and Bucket companies worked in conjunction with these engine companies.

The introduction of the waterworks (1874) heralded the end of the old apparatus. Extinguisher Hose Company was formed with twenty men, and soon after two Chemical engines were placed at the east and west ends of the town, with companies to operate them. These latter companies continued in operation until about 1891 when they were disbanded and five men from each were added to the Hose Company. On 01 Jan 1901, the strength of the Hose Company was reduced to fifteen men, and a well-trained team of horses was added to the equipment.

The Fire Hall (destroyed in the 1980 flood) was constructed in 1871 by Messrs. Wallace, Carveth and Fogarty, contractors, for $3200. Prior to its occupancy, the central fire station was located on the west side of Ontario Street near Walton Street.

The following was taken from the 05 Feb 1927 issue of the Port Hope Evening Guide, entitled:
FIRE ROLL CALL OF 1891
List of Members of the Port Hope Fire Brigade in 1891

It takes a roll call like this to "bring back to memory days of long ago". It will be noticed that the name of Richard Ware, the present chief, appears almost at the end, for this was the first roll call for him and John Tozer. The 'grim reaper' has secured a large crop from this list.
L.G. Misson, Chief
James Dunn, Assistant
T. Vanhorn, Captain
Geo. Gamble
Geo. Hawkins, Secretary
Mark Boyd
Thomas Leonard, Treasurer
Wm. Greenaway
Chas. Nixon, Sr.
Steve Jex
Geo. Thompson
Geo. Mercer
Levi Reynolds
Wm. Jewell
A. McLennan
Jno. Day, Sr.
Sam Leach
E.W. Armstrong
Walter Ingalls
Wm. Stephens
Jno. Tozer
Frank Nattrass
Wm. Mercer
Ed. Brown
Jno. Gamble
Joe Carter
Wm. Mackie
Jno. Glidden
Percy Fligg
Wm. Savory
Wm. Evans
Richard Ware
John Day, Jr.
James Stone
Brigade ribbon

Fire brigade 1891)

Central Fire Brigade (undated): left to right...
Front row: Burney Skitch, Sid Hawkins, Jim Dunn, William Greenaway, William Southgate, Archie Campbell
Back row: John Tozer, Stan Tozer, Jack Record, Charles Ough, C. McLennan, Ernie Wallace. Steve Jex

Peter and Barbara Bolton - Port Hope, Ontario
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