The Great Wildfire of 1870: A history told by Ruth Stewart-Verger and Murray McGregor

Until Fort McMurray in the spring of 2016, the Ontario fire of 1870 was the largest wild-fire in Canadian history.

It is startling how similar the descriptions of the skies, the golden glow across the horizon at midnight, the strangling smoke, the wall of fire sweeping across the land, people racing before the flames…

The Great Wildfire of 1870 started in the Ottawa Valley, as a small blaze near Arnprior and a brush fire near Pakenham raced across eastern Ontario. The wildfire swept past the Carp ridge, through the Almonte Area, devastating Bells Corners, and on to Ottawa. Smoke filled the skies. Farmers, villages and animals, wild and domestic raced before the oncoming flames. Farmlands, lives and habitats were lost. The fire was stopped at Preston Street by brave fire-fighters who, with the help of pick and shovel, breached the north dam of Dow’s Lake, flooding the old Dow’s swamp lowlands right down Preston on to LeBreton flats — just in the nick of time, of course.

Where: the Chambers at Ben Franklin Place
When: Saturday, September 17, at 2:00PM

Storytellers are Ruth Stewart-Verger and Murray McGregor.