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Fires, Fire Engines, and the Mount Albert Fire Hall

The fire hall in Mount Albert is one of the most noticeable landmarks in this small town. However, for many years after the initial settlement of Mount Albert in 1821, there was no fire station that was built in the area. When fires occurred, their destructive nature could turn out to be very expensive for the owner. In 1856 the Mount Albert Hotel, owned by Mr. George Stokes, was destroyed by fire on December 17th. It turned out that a band box had been accidentally left against a stovepipe, which caught fire and then caused it to spread to some bedding, and then to the rest of the hotel. The damage was estimated at $3,000 which was not covered by insurance. [1]


A by-law was passed in 1912 by the village council which made it compulsory for every householder to have two buckets stationed in their house in case of fire so that they could be filled with water in order to put out the blaze. Homeowners also needed to have a ladder going up to the main chimney, and another one near the house, reaching from the ground to the roof. Despite these inadequate precautionary measures, very few fires happened in Mount Albert. The sawmill owned by Mr. Harmon Dike was burned around 1909. A store on the corner of Bank and Centre Street was burned down in 1922.


A small fire engine was purchased at some point, and it was kept in the basement of the Odd Fellows Hall below the library; according to the Tweedsmuir History written by the members of the Women’s Institute, this machine proved to be “of little value”. Due to the lack of adequate fire protection, the insurance rates in Mount Albert were extremely high. Thus, it was decided that new fire-fighting equipment was necessary, not just for the village, but also for the surrounding area. A modern fire truck was ordered, which arrived on April 12, 1950, accompanied by a large tank/truck for water.



Figure 1: Bruce Rolling (husband of Gladys Rolling) standing in front of the Mount Albert Fire Hall building on Main Street, circa 1960’s.


A fire brigade was formed with Bruce Rolling as the fire chief, Dawson Dike as Deputy chief, with Morley Case and Carl Lees appointed as captains. A fire hall was built on Main Street, and uniforms were purchased for the firemen shortly thereafter. A brand-new fire truck was purchased for the Main Street Location in 1967.


The Mount Albert fire station moved onto Princess Street after this date; it was still active up until February 2, 2014, when a fire destroyed the old fire hall. The cause of the fire was traced to one of the electrical systems in one of the vehicles parked inside the building, destroying everything inside. The building was reconstructed on the same site with a cost of $4 million dollars, which included the trucks, equipment, and the building itself, most of which was covered by insurance.[2]


Do you have any memories of the people who worked at the fire hall in Mount Albert? Let us know in the comments section!

[1] https://news.ourontario.ca/newmarket/114285/page/3 [2] https://barrie.ctvnews.ca/it-makes-us-that-much-safer-mount-albert-gets-new-fire-hall-1.2571480

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