History | Simcoe Litho wiped out | Back

A lightly edited transcript of a pages 1, 12 article in the 8 Feb 1917 issue of the Simcoe Reformer


Most destructive fire ever in Simcoe -- Splendid lithograph plant of Dominion Canners gone 
80 highly paid artists and artisans out of work

At six o'clock last bight when the staff of the Simcoe Lithograph Co. left their work everything about the premises was in apparent good order and not a hint
was there of the disaster so soon to overtake it.

The building was a ponderously constructed one, stretching between two streets along the south side
of the town block lying on upper Robinson street.

Its dimensions were approximately 90 x 250 feet, two stories in height. It was of sand-lime brick and cement, and had been especially designed for the purpose for which it was used, and erected some four years ago.

A conservative estimate puts the cost of replacing it
at the present time at $90,000. It cost $60,000.

It was filled with an up-to-date lithographing plant that was the admiration of every printer that saw it. And it was the pride of the town, whose citizens rejoiced to see its steady growth into a large industry. A very large stock of materials was carried and millions of labels were on hand for the use of the various factories of the Canners.

That was the condition at 6 o'clock last night. This morning nothing is left save remnants of crumbling walls, smouldering debris and scrap.

A fire wall cut off the office from the work-department and they were not burned, through badly treated. The vaults, in which were stored the original drawings of the company, are standing, but there is grave doubt as to whether they withstood the heat.

The fire was discovered about 8 o'clock. It was in the interior of the factory, well towards the east end. When first seen, the flames had already gained considerable headway and although the fire brigade was prompt and soon had four streams of water going, there was never from the first any hope of getting the fire under control before it has completed its work.

There was a high west wind that might have blown the flames across Metcalfe Street and swept up the big block of factories there. But they contented themselves by going upwards.

Heavy snow lay everywhere, which helped some; and the firemen were indefatigable. The people living across Robinson Street moved out their furniture, but had to put it back again as nothing outside the litho building burned save a small barn immediately to the north of it.

The fire is a severe blow to Simcoe. There is no disguising that fact. At the moment it is difficult to get any informed person to express opinions.

As always after such fires there is talk of incendiarism. Whether there is ground for the talk of not cannot be asserted.

No one here knows the amount of insurance carried. That is looked after in Hamilton and we could not get anyone on the phone who could inform us. The future intentions of the company cannot be indicated. Necessarily they are not yet formed.

The task of replacing the plant could be one of great difficulty. Simcoe people can only hope that the company will face it strenuously and with as little loss of time as possible. To place a figure on the loss this morning can at best be only a guess. But it will exceed a quarter of a million.


A telephone message from Hamilton places the loss at $250,000, fully covered by insurance.