St. Ferdinand de Halifax, QB Insane Asylum Fire, Dec 1916


Quebec, December 31. -- Forty-five insane women patients, inmates of the asylum at St. Ferdinand de Halifax, and one sister of the community of the Sisters of Charity of the Quebec branch, were burned to death when the asylum building was completely destroyed by fire Saturday night.
The asylum was in the parish of the same name, in the county of Megantie, near Plessisville, and was for inmates from Quebec. It was one of the regular government establishments for the care of the insane, but was being used only for the care of female patients. Another wing of the building was used by the Sisters of Charity as a school for young girls, and when the fire broke out there were thirty girls in the building. They were rescued, but owing to the difficulty of handling the insane women, of whom there were 180 in the building, 45 of the latter perished. One hundred and thirty-five were saved with the greatest difficulty.
The building is some distance from other habitations, and when the flames secured a good hold little chance remained of rescue.
The building, a large one, the property of the Quebec Sisters of Charity, was reduced to ashes. The loss is approximately $100,000.
According to all information received here, the sisters had to cope with a great problem in rounding up all the insane patients, but the 135 saved were finally housed in the hospital building, a short distance away, where the girl boarders are also being taken care of for the present. The burned building was an old one, and, fanned by a strong wind, the flames rapidly consumed it. There were no men to aid in the work of rescue, and the sisters had to remove many of the patients forcibly. Some showed fear and others fascination in gazing at the flames.
The cause of the outbreak is unknown, and as the building was entirely destroyed, the cause may never be learned.

Winnipeg Free Press Manitoba 1917-01-01