Benjamin T.

Greens Harbour, Newfoundland and Labrador

Avalon Regional Heritage Fair

The Great Fire St. Johns 1892

My project is about the great fire of St. John’s (NL) that occurred on July 8,1892. Nearly two thirds of the city had been destroyed, 12,000 people were left homeless, and 13 million dollars sustained in damages. There were many unfortunate events that added to the devastation. St. John’s was left in economic ruin.




What was the most interesting thing you learned about your topic?

The people of Newfoundland were devastated. Through determination and resilience, they rebuilt almost their entire city in only 3 years. Newfoundland was not yet a part of Canada. It was a dominion of Great Britain and was not able to deal with such loss. Canada played a huge role in helping rebuild. They were one of the first countries to send help after the great fire. I was also interested to learn that this had been the third fire that had occurred in the city and many of the fire regulations that had been advised after these previous fires were not implemented, such as widening and straightening the streets. I also enjoyed learning about the beautiful architecture and historic structures of St. John’s.

What important lessons have you learned that you want to share with other Canadians?

One of the important lessons I have learned is the ability of people to overcome total loss and destruction. 12, 000 people had lost everything they owned but they did not give up. They persevered to rebuild their city. Newfoundlanders received many generous donations from Canada,the USA and Britain. Through these acts of kindness, they were able to rise above the ashes.

How would you compare your life today to the lives of those studied in your project?

I would consider myself much more fortunate than the people I studied in my project. When the fire had occurred, the fire department had been mismanaged with very poor equipment. Today, we have highly trained fire fighters and departments throughout Newfoundland. Much of Newfoundland at the time was dependent on the fishery for survival. Today, many other opportunities exist for employment but the fishery remains a very important part of Newfoundland and its history.