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Dec 6 1886
To: Hamilton Ontario
From: Hamilton Ontario

THE ALEXANDRA ARCADE Damaged by Fire--A Big Conflagration Prevented by Prompt Action1

What looked as if it was going to be the biggest fire that Hamilton has known for years was prevented by promptness and coolheadedness Saturday morning. About 10 o'clock thick smoke was seen making its was from under the stairs leading from the main hall of the Alexandra Arcade to the rooms of the Canada Business College and the arcade hall. The firemen were called out without delay and lost no time in getting at the seat of the fire which seemed to have taken possession of the stairway and worked up under it to the second flat. When the wainscotting was torn off the flames burst forth with vigor, but were soon extinguished.

Under the stairs is the gas meter. As far as can be learned someone must have dropped a lighted match or the stump of a cigar over the bannister. This found its way under the stairs and set fire to some paper and melted the gas meter, for, when the door was opened, it was found that gas was escaping from an inch pipe which had been left perfectly secure when last visited.

The building is full of all sorts of fire conductors--some built for the purposes of ventilating, others the result of a desire for ornamentation. Into these the firemen put their streams, and soon had the fire under control. The construction of the floors allowed the water to pass off without doing much damage, except to the ceiling of the cellar occupied by Barnes & Haskins as a wine cellar. The office of the Hamilton Baseball Association was in great danger--in fact it was washed out--but not until all valuables had been got out. Manager Crooks got his hands upon the contents just as the fire got there.

The loss will be somewhere between $500 and $1000, principally through damage to paint, and to the floors, stairs ancd ceilings. There is insurance amounting to $19,000 on the building. The college rooms were not damaged, the firemen being careful not to deluge the place. The Hamilton Association rooms and the Caledonia Hall escaped damage and the tenants were not disturbed except by a little water. The fire broke out a second time just after 11 o'clock but a detachment of the firemen were there and speedily put it out.


1 We have not yet determined the exact address for the Alexandra Arcade, and it may have been moved at some point. The best known address is 33 James St. N., and the building still stands (2007). However, The Hamilton Spectator of Nov. 26. 1910 states that it was located on the South side of King Street between James and MacNab. (See W1652).

Isaac McQuesten held the mortgage on the Alexandra Arcade and took it over when it was defaulted. It then fell into his half-brother's hands as part of the bankruptcy settlement after Isaac's death in 1888. Dr. Calvin Brooks McQuesten then used the income to pay the annuity to his step-mother, Elizabeth Fuller McQuesten. He sold the building in 1910 and died in 1912.

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Copyright 2002 Whitehern Historic House and Garden
The development of this website was directed by Mary Anderson, Ph.D. and Janelle Baldwin, M.A.
Please direct questions and comments to Mary Anderson, Ph.D.

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