Quebec, QB Academy For Boys Burns, Dec 1927



Despite Fact That 140 Boys Housed In College Were In Dormitories At Time Of Outbreak, All Escaped -- Heroism Enacted By Sisters Of Order Of Good Shepherd At Wednesday's Fire Repeated -- Origin Of Blaze Unknown, But Police Informed Two Men Seen Leaving Yard Just Before Blaze Started.

Quebec, Dec. 16. -- Fire tonight destroyed the building housing the St. Louis academy and the St. Jean Berchmans boarding house for boys, an education institution operated by the sisters of the order of the Good Shepherd. This was the second visitation of fire to a school in the city of Quebec within two days, following closely on the disaster which caused the loss of probably fifty lives to little girls in the razing of the Saint Charles Hospice. The fire tonight fortunately entailed no loss of life, according to reports from responsible officials. Two boys were reported slightly injured when they jumped from windows of the blazing section of the building. Their fall was broken by a deep bank of snow.
The fire caused great excitement in Quebec city, the nerves of the citizens being already on edge through the fearful aftermath of the Saint Charles Hospice disaster.
The St. Louis academy is located in the heart of the best residential secion of Quebec, within a stone's throw of the legislative buildings of the province and the homes of the most prominent people of the city, many of whose children attended the institution.
Despite the fact that the 140 boys housed in the college were in their dormitories at the time of the outbreak, all escaped. Only the heroic work of the nuns prevented the recurrence of another tragedy. Two of the sisters were sent to hospital from burns received when they remained behind to make sure that all had escaped.
The origin of tonight's fire, like that of the Hospice St. Charles, was not clear. Police stated that they had been informed that two men had been seen leaving the yard of the institution a short time before the blaze started.
Feats of heroism enacted at Wednesday's fire wre repeated tonight by the sisters of the order of the Good Shepherd.
The nuns and children of the college were awakened by the sounding of the gong, which is used regularly to awaken the inmates each morning. The identity of the person who sounded the alarm could not be ascertained in the excitement. Immediately after the sisters had been aroused and had realized that the building was on fire, they proceeded to the dormitories on the second storey of the seven-story building. However, by this time the two sisters in charge of the dormitories, Mother SAINTE CROIX and Mother SAINT DENIS, had assembled their charges into a group. They counselled the youngsters to remain calm. The majority of the boys had sufficient time to don their trousers, shoes and stockings. Led by one of the sisters, all of the children proceeded from the burning building in an orderly fashion. On their arrival on the street the youngsters were put into taxi cabs and taken to hospitals, charitable institutions and city hotels for the night. Mother SAINT DENIS, interviewed, said that she had been awakened by the sounding of the bell and that she had immediately awakened everybody in the college.
"All of the children followed out my instructions," said Sister ST. DENIS, "and remained calm. I made several visits to the beds of the smallest of my charges and aided them in securing some sort of clothing. All of the youngsters were ready to leave the building a few minutes after the alarm was sounded. I aided several down the stairs, but I am convinced that, despite this, all of the children would have reached safety without any trouble."
No official statement from the authorities in regard to tonight's outbreak was forthcoming tonight, as the cause of the fire was still under investigation.
All that remained of the building tonight was the four walls. Shortly after all the occupants had been removed from the college, the whole structure burst out into flames. Firemen were handicapped in their work owing to the poor water pressure. Some of the streams did not reach a height of twenty feet from the ground. Half an hour after the outbreak the floors and roof caved in. It was estimated that the damage would not be less than $250,000, partly covered by insurance.
The work of the fire-fighters was further hampered by a high wind that had been sweeping Quebec City from early morning. Time and again, sparks from the burning structure were blown on to neighboring buildings. The Morrissette school, which is conducted by the Brothers of Christian Instructions, was ablaze in several parts at various times. Before the flames could gain any headway, they were extinguished by the fire-fighters, who continually ket the endangered edifice wetted.

Manitoba Free Press Winnipeg 1927-12-17