Quebec, QB Fire, Jun 1865


Immense Destruction of Property----Champlain Street a Mass of Ruins---Upward of a Hundred Houses Destroyed.

The Toronto Leader of Friday says a dreadful fire occurred at Quebec on Thursday afternoon, destroying more than one hundred houses. The following particulars are given:

The fire broke out in Chaplain-street, which fronts the river, being the only street between the water and the rock of Cape Diamond west of St. Peter-street, the chief business part of the city. It is occupied principally by tavern and boarding-house keepers, and is the chief resort of sailors an lumbermen. Although the inhabitants are mainly of the poorer class, many of the houses are substantial and valuable, and on the piers and in the river along the front of the street much valuable property is stored, not to speak of the ships that line the wharves. When the fire broke out, therefore, and threatened to spread extensively, much excitement was caused and not a little apprehension felt in the city.

The police, who constitute the fire brigade, were early on duty and worked faithfully, but with little success, to extinguish the fire. There was a plentiful supply of water, but the flames soon gained such headway that water was of little service to quench them.

Large detachments of the military stationed here, consisting of infantry, artillery and engineers, were ordered to the fire, and went to work pulling down houses in its neighborhood, and making preparations for tearing down others, should it become necessary.

The fire broke out near the Mariners' Chapel, and has destroyed every house on both sides as far as the steps leading to the Plains of Abraham on the west, and on the east to within a hundred yards of the wharf of the Montreal Ocean Steamship Company.

At 7:30 o'clock the fire was still raging, and half a mile of houses on both sides of Champlain-street were destroyed. It is estimated that a thousand families are homeless.

Fully one hundred and fifty houses were utterly destroyed, Champlain-street on both sides being burnt for a distance of three-quarters of a mile. Fortunately the flames could spread only in two directions, or the loss would have been infinitely greater. As it is, everything has been swept away from the edge of the river to the rock behind, a space varying in width from two to four hundred feet. This area was closely packed with houses of every description, many of them tenement houses containing several families.

Several extensive coal-yards are still burning, and many wharves have been injured or totally destroyed.

The artillery and royal engineers were prepared to blow up houses to stop the progress of the flames, but on the representation of the civic authorities that an explosion would endanger the rock above, portions of which have already this, and previous years, spontaneously fallen with great loss of life and property, the project was suspended unless it should become imperatively necessary. The gale from the west abating the necessity did not arise, although at one time the whole of the lower town was in imminent danger. One shipyard at least is said to have been destroyed.

The New York Times, New York, NY 26 Jun 1865