Nova Scotia Archives

Halifax and Its People / 1749-1999

"The Great Fire at Halifax, Nova Scotia"

The Illustrated London News for 15 October 1859 reported in colourful detail that:

At nine o’clock on the night of the 9th of September the little metropolis of the province of Nova Scotia was startled by the unwelcome sound of the firebells. Soon it became known that the flames were at work in the very centre of its budding magnificence, and with a fury that bade defiance to all counter-efforts. Houses and stores, wooden, brick, and stone, all alike fed the flames, until, of the two extensive blocks touching on Hollis and Barrington streets, with Granville street (the Haligonian’s paradise), running betwixt them, nothing escaped except one store, by saving which, by the way, the fire was prevented spreading over the town. The damage is considerable – about £200,000; the insurance covers £131,000 of the loss. Sixty of the finest buildings in Halifax, covering four acres of ground, were destroyed; two lives were also lost, and many persons received severe injuries. The first of the accompanying Sketches [No. 38] gives a view of the fire in Granville-street, looking northward; the other [No. 39] represents the burning of a huge misshapen pile, nicknamed the ‘Coffin’, in Ordnance-square. From the brilliant play of colours caused by the combustion of the inflammable materials with which it was filled, and from the danger caused by the proximity of the Ordnance Magazine, the excitement here was intense.

Date: 1859

Medium: lithograph published in The Illustrated London News, 15 October 1859, p.370

Reference: Documentary Art Nova Scotia Archives  59-1

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