1873-1899 | 1899-1914 | 1914-1940 | 1946-1968 | 1968-1999

    The inception of Winnipeg’s fire brigade was unusual compared to many other volunteer brigades in North America. Brigades in other cities were typically made up of citizens from the working class, seeking adventure, status, comradeship, or a means of serving their community. In Winnipeg, property owners, concerned with either skyrocketing fire insurance rates or the refusal of insurance companies to provide any coverage, joined forces in a gesture of self-help. Their objective was to protect their properties from fire.

    On October 14, 1874, city council presented its first money plebiscite to eligible voters. It included an order to obtain a $25,000 line of credit for the purchase of fire engines and apparatus, and the construction of buried underground water tanks along Main Street for firefighting purposes. This was no surprise, given that the only people who were entitled to vote during this period were the property owners, a number of whom were also responsible for organizing the fire brigade.

    The equipment ordered included the standard supplies for a city of Winnipeg's size: hose reels, hose, a Babcock hook-and-ladder truck, and Babcock chemical engines. The committee also ordered a horse-drawn steam pumper from the Silsby Steam Engine Company. While this unit would normally have taken six months to arrive, a day after the committee approved the order, the Silsby Company telegraphed the city, offering to immediately deliver a highly finished engine . . . for an extra $500.

Nov. 8, 1873   Winnipeg incorporated as a city.
Sept. 24, 1874   Volunteer Fire Brigade formed.
1874

William Code - one of the originals in the brigade.
Nov. 18, 1874   Brigade receives equipment.
Jan. 25, 1875   By-law passed for organization & management of a fire dept.

Dec. 25, 1875   WFD Brigade's fire hall on Lombard Ave. burns down.
April 19, 1877   Department reorganized; Dan McMillan is Chief.
May 3, 1877   Dominion House and stables burn, located at Main St. and St. Mary.
Aug. 14, 1877   Department meets Lord & Lady Dufferin visiting Winnipeg.
Jan.  3, 1878

New Fire station on Market Square opened.
Mar. 13, 1878   A. Current's store located on Main St. burns, tanks frozen.
1882

Temporary HQ at Smith and York until No. 2 was built.
Mar. 23, 1882   24 boxes for the street box system were installed along with 6 gongs.
May 17, 1882   Winnipeg Fire Dept. formed; W. 0. McRobie is first official Chief.
Original assignments to Winnipeg's New Fire Department - 1882
 
Chief- W. O. (William Orme) McRobie - Hired April 20, 1882
Asst. Chief- A. (Alexander) Aiken Hired May 3, 1882
Electrical - J. (James) Yuill - Hired May 3, 1882
Fire Inspector -J. J. (John) Johnson - Hired May 3, 1882
 
There were 150 Applications to become members of the Permanent Fire Department.
Twenty eight below were selected to serve in the three stations:
 
Central- 347 William Avenue- North side opposite Charlotte Street (Now Hargrave)
South- 150 Smith Street- North West corner of York Avenue
North- 47 Maple Street - North East corner of Fonseca Street (Now Higgins Avenue)
 

Positions

Central

South

North

Foremen W. (William) Code J. (John) O'Brian E. (Edward) Rodgers
Engineers (Steamers) A. (Alexander) Short C.W.(Charles) Hutchison C. (Charles) Housley
Asst. Engineers (also known as Stokers) J. (John) Stanish C. (Charles) Akin J. (John) Smith
Hook & Ladder Driver (Aerial) J. E. (John) Gray    
Hook & Ladder Tillerman A. (Albert) Caulfield)    
Ladder Truckman W. T. (Walter) Rutherford    
Ladder Truckman G. (George) McGillivary    
Ladder Truckman C. (Charles) Parr    
Hose Co. Driver (hose Reel) S. (Sylvester) Sinnott A. (Alex) Young J.M. (John) Wilson
Hoseman W.G.(William) Nicholson) J. (John) Follis J. (John) Russell
Hoseman W. (William) Chester    
Hoseman T. (Thomas) Lake    
Chemical Driver W. (William) Almour J. (John) McDonald W. (Walter) Scott
Asst. Chemical Driver R. (Richard) Dargie H. (Harry) Fogg S.(Samuel) Tait
Jan. 26, 1883

Chief McRobie moves into new Central Station on William Ave. at Charlotte. (Hargrave)

Feb. 1883   Approx. this time, North Hall built on NE Fonseca (Higgins) and Maple St.
June 19, 1883   South Hall - No. 2 station at Smith and York is built and first used.
1885   City Council discharged 6 men from Hook and Ladder company.
May 1, 1892   Princess Opera house fire.
Nov. 16, 1894   One of the biggest battles, Western Canada Building.
Feb. 19, 1895   New 65-foot Hayes aerial ladder truck purchased.
1896   End of year sees 49 street boxes in use.
Feb. 11, 1898   McIntyre Block, the finest business structure of the time burns.
1899

No. 1 Fire Hall built at 110 Albert St. (demolished in 1965)
Feb. 9, 1899

The Manitoba Hotel fire, $800,000 damage, a huge amount.

Archives - 1873-1899 | 1899-1914 | 1914-1940 | 1946-1968 | 1968-1999


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