Local History | Port Rowan Fires (3 articles) | Back
A lightly edited transcription of a page 1 article in the 10 Jul 1919 Simcoe Reformer newspaper.

Fire at Port Rowan

Last Friday about 6 o'clock p.m. it was discovered that the Central Hotel was on fire, the blaze issuing from the rear of the frame part of the building on the second storey.

The fire alarm was rung, but before sufficient help arrived the flames had made such headway that nothing could be done to save the building. All efforts were centered upon removing the contents, nearly all of which were carried out.

The grocery store and dwelling of Chas. Ashford, adjoining the hotel was also soon ablaze and it was impossible to save that and it, with the hotel, was completely demolished by the flames.

Mr. Ashford succeeded in saving most of his furniture, but sustained a heavy loss in clothes and bedding.

The Ford garage next to Ashford's, being a metal building, escaped material damage. 

Melvin Furry's residence, next to the hotel to the north, was, by the super-human efforts of the people, saved from total destruction, although somewhat damaged.

A strong west wind was blowing at the time and the buildings on the opposite side of the street by hard work were saved, although they caught fire several times. Their safety was due to the large maple trees on the street immediately in front.

The hotel was owned by Austin Becker and under lease to Albert Weaver, who came here from Oakland last spring and had secured a standard hotel license.

Mr. Weaver had no insurance, and his loss is considerable in damaged furniture. The hotel was insured for a fraction of its value. Mr. Ashford had a small insurance but is a loser to the extent of $1,500.

This was an exceptionally unfortunate fire, as the people most affected could ill-afford the losses inflicted.

A lightly edited transcription of a page 1 article in the 25 Sep 1919 Simcoe Reformer newspaper.

Destructive Fire at Port Rowan

Total Loss Will Exceed $150,000
Origin of the Fire a Mystery

(From Our Own Correspondent)

Last Friday night Port Rowan suffered the most destructive fire in its history.

Shortly after 11 o'clock p.m. a small blaze was seen in 
W. O. Franklin's store by T. D. Pierce and F. Kell, who forced the door, but failed in quenching the flames owing to lack of available water.

Finding that their efforts were of no avail, they gave the alarm, but before sufficient assistance arrived, the fire had got beyond control.

The building was owned by W. A. Mabee, who had his office upstairs, and was situated in the centre of the business section on the west side of Main Street, next to the St. Charles Hotel.

Smoke and flames soon penetrated the hotel and 
W. Howey's hardware store, on either side, and they were soon ablaze. J. W. Cronk's general store followed, as did 
J. W. Robinson's bakeshop and dwelling. All that remains of these fine buildings are sections of broken and twisted walls.

C. E. Smith of the St. Charles Hotel succeeded  in saving part of the contents on the ground floor, but everything upstairs was consumed. His loss is $10,000. He has a small insurance.

W. A. Mabee suffered a complete loss of his office fixtures and papers, including the customs books, village books consisting of the assessment roll and collector's book, and the village map. He also owned the building occupied by Mr. Franklin, and has a loss in excess of his insurance of $4,000.

W. Howey owned his own building, and his loss in excess of his insurance is $10,000. Mr. Gleedall, the tailor who had a shop over Howey's store, lost $500, but is covered by insurance.

The building occupied by J. W. Cronk was owned by Mrs. J. W. Pierce of Simcoe, and was insured. Mr. Cronk is a loser to the extent of $10,000 in excess of insurance. A portion of his stock was saved.

J. W. Robinson saved practically all of his stock and furniture, but his loss is quite heavy.

The Simcoe chemical  truck was sent for and although late in arriving it stopped the spread of the blaze. The total loss will be fully $150,000. The origin of the fire remains a mystery.


Lightly edited partial transcriptions of the Port Rowan column on page 5 of the 2 Oct 1919 Simcoe Reformer newspaper.

Pierce Newkirk, W. Nabb and his son Wilfred motored from Port Stanley on Monday to see the ruins of the big fire. They returned Tuesday.

J. W. Robinson has fitted up his garage as a temporary place of business.

J. W. Cronk has bought the lot and ruins of the store that he occupied, which was buried, from Mrs. Pierce.

A. C. Fry has been appointed to re-assess the village. The work will be difficult on account of the loss by fire of the old rolls, and map, the collector's roll, and everything else that would give information. Dependence alone will be placed on the slips given out last spring and many or these will have been lost or destroyed. This will make the 20th time that Mr. Fry has assessed the village, and he knows the ground pretty well.


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