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Saint John in Saint John County, New Brunswick — The Canadian Atlantic
 

Prince William Street - Before and After the 1877 Fire

Rue Prince William - Avant et Après le Grand Incendie de 1877

 
 
Before the 1877 Fire Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, June 11, 2014
1. Before the 1877 Fire Marker
Captions: (central photograph) Market Square and the head of Prince William Street, pre-fire c. 1865; (photographs across the bottom, left to right) The “Imperial Building,” home to Magee Brothers, dry goods c. 1870-1875; The Post Office completed in 1876, located to the right of the Bank of New Brunswick building,; The Great Fire of 1877 began at York Point. Fanned by a strong northeast wind, it ravaged two-thirds of the city, destroying 1,612 buildings and leaving 13,000 people homeless.; (map) The extent of the Great Fire of 1877.
Inscription. This marker has plaques on both sides.
English
Before the 1877 Fire

The year is 1865, and you are looking across Market Square at the “Imperial Building.” This was the site of the famous “Coffee House” and now the home of Magee Bros., a dry goods store.
Saint John is at the pinnacle of its manufacturing history, “The Golden Age.” The City has reached its peak in shipbuilding and lumber trade and by 1870 Saint John will become one of the most important manufacturing centers in Canada.

Prince William Street is referred to as the “Wall Street of Saint John” boasting banks, commercial houses, public buildings, newspaper officies, small shops and dry goods stores. Construction is ongoing, the new post office on the corner of Prince William Street and Princess Street will be completed by 1876. City Hall will move into the former Bank of New Brunswick building across the street. The bank moved to there newly constructed edifice adjacent to the new Post Office. A short walk down the street in 1864 would take you by many small shops such as Jardine and Co., grocers, J. and A. McMillan, bookkeepers, stationers and printers e.g. (the latter operated in Saint John from 1822 until 2000.)

On the afternoon of Wednesday June 20,
After the 1877 Fire Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, June 11, 2014
2. After the 1877 Fire Marker
Captions: (central photograph) Market Square and the head of Prince William Street, post-fire c. 1880.; (photographs across the bottom, left to right) Re-built Bank of New Brunswick and Post Office, c. 1899.; North British & Mercantile Insurance Co. Pugsley Building, as well as the Commercial News Room. D.R. Jack was the Consul for Spain, the Consulate Crest is visible in the second floor window at right, c. 1890.; Chubbs Corner, westside at Prince Street, c. 1890.; First building on the left is the rebuilt City Hall Building, the third building is the rebuilt Bank of Nova Scotia, c. 1890.
1877, a spark ignited a bundle of hay in Mr. Fairweather’s storehouse, located on the south side of York Point Slip, next to McLaughlin’s boiler shop. A strong northeast wind fanned the spark pushing the fire easily through the crowded York Point district, consuming the buildings on Hare’s Wharf, Smythe Street, Dury Lane, Mill and Dock Streets. The fire raged on and could be seen from as far away as Moncton and Fredericton. After forty hours, the fire abated and the extent of the destruction could be determined: Two thirds of Saint John, including most of its commercial district, was a smoldering mass of charred rubble. Sixteen hundred and twelve buildings were destroyed. Thirteen thousand people were left homeless.

Construction followed quickly along Queen, St. James, Britain, Prince William, Germain, Charlotte, Carmarthen, Duke and Princess Streets. In compliance with new building regulations, brick predominated in reconstruction. Of the forty-four buildings that went up on Prince William Street, thirty-nine were constructed of brick, at a total cost of $600,000, which was the most money spent on re-building any street at the time.

What emerged from this destruction was the homogeneous and elegant brick and stone facade that runs along both sides Prince William Street.

French
Avant le feu de 1877

Nous sommes
Prince William Street Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, June 11, 2014
3. Prince William Street Marker
en 1865 et vous apercevez, de l’autre côté du Market Square, un édifice alors appelé l’«Imperial Building» que abritait la célèbre «Coffee House», où se trouve maintenant le magasin de nouveautés Magee Bros.

Saint John vit son apogée en tant que ville industrielle, surnommée «L’ere de prospérité ». Elle a atteint son sommet en construction navale et en commerce de bois d’oeuvre et est devenue, en 1870, l’un de plus grands centres industriels au Canada.

La rue Prince William, baptisée le «Wall Street de Saint John» est jalonnée de banques, de maisons de commerce, d’immeubles publics, de bureaux de journaux, de petits boutiques et de magasins de nouveautés. La construction bat son plein et l’aménagement du nouveau bureau de poste, à l’angle de rues Prince William et Princess, doit se terminer d’ici 1876. L’Hôtel de ville doit emménager dans l’ancien immeuble de la Banque du Nouveau-Brunswick, de l’autre côté de la rue. La banque ira s’établir dans la nouvel édifice, adjacent au bureau de poste. A quelques pas de lá, en descendant la rue, on trouvait en 1865 de nombreuses petites boutiques comme Jardine and Co., épiciers, J. and A. McMillan , comptables, papetiers, et imprimeurs (en activité à Saint John de 1822 jusqu’en 2000).

Le mercredi 20 juin 1877 en après midi une étincelle mit feu à une botte de foin dans l’entrepôt de M. Fairweather, du côté sud
Prince William Street image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, June 11, 2014
4. Prince William Street
de las cale de York Point, à côté de la chaudronnerie McLaughlin. Un fort vent du nordet attisa le feu qui gagna alors facilement le district très anime de York Point, dévorant sure son passage les bâtiments du quai Hare, de la rue Smythe, de la ruelle Dury et des rues Mill et Dock. L’incendie s’intensifia et on pouvait même l’apercevoir de Moncton et de Fredericton. Le feu se calma après quarante heures et l’on put alors constater l’étendue de dommages : les deux tiers de Saint John, incluant une grand partie de son secteur commercial, n’étaient qu’un amas fumant de décombres carbonises. Mille six cent douze immeubles furent détruits et mille trois cent personnes se retrouvèrent sans foyer.

Les travaux de construction ne tardèrent pas le long des rues Queen, St. James, Britain, Prince William, Germain, Charlot, Carmarthen, Duke et Princess et l’on dut opter pour la brique, conformément au nouveau code du bâtiment. Trente-neuf des quarante-quatre édifices érigés sur la rue Prince William furent construits en briques, au coût total de 600 000 $, la plus forte somme dépensée à l’époque pour la reconstruction d’une rue.

Cette destruction a donné naissance aux facades élégantes et homogènes de brique et de pierre que bordent aujourd'hui les deux côtés de la rue Prince William


English
After the 1877 Fire

Following
Prince William Street image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, June 11, 2014
5. Prince William Street
the Great Fire of 1877, and with extraordinary effort, much of the construction along the Prince William Streetscape was completed in the next four years. The mix of businesses located on Prince William Street followed the pre-fire trend towards commercial, financial, public and administrative, with very few shops - remaining the “Wall Street of Saint John”. Having been built at the same time, following the same building code, and utilizing the mandatory brick or stone, the extant buildings on Prince William Street almost inevitably present a unified street front. While they vary considerably in size and style, the original buildings have a uniformity of scale and detail which hold them together in a visual bond.
Most of the business houses constructed along the street were designed in the Italianate or Second Empire styles with Romanesque and classical elements. Most of these buildings remain intact today, and because they do, Saint John can truthfully claim to have some of the finest surviving examples of 19th century commercial facades in all of Canada. In fact, in 1981 Prince William Street was the first streetscape in the county to be designated by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada as being of national historic and architectural significance.

For more information as you stroll down historic Prince William Street, pick up the “Three
Prince William Street image. Click for full size.
circa 1910
6. Prince William Street
Historic Walking Tours’ brochure at a Visitor Information Centre. Enjoy your step back in time…

French
Après le feu de 1877

Après le Grand incendie de 1877, la majeure partie de la reconstruction du paysage de la rue Prince William put être parachevée quatre ans plus tard, grâce à des efforts extraordinaires. Les diverses entreprises établies sur la rue Prince William suivirent la tendance qui prévalait avant l’incendie, soit une concentration dans les domaines commercial, financier, public et administratif, avec très peu de boutiques, demeurant ainsi le «Wall Street de Saint John». Les edifices que bordent la rue Prince William offrent presque inévitablement une façade unifiée, car ils lurent construits à la même époque, selon un code du bâtiment unique, avec des briques ou des pierres devant obligatoirement s’apparenter. Ces édifices originaux, bien que de tailles et de styles considérablement différents, possèdent une certaine uniformité d’envergure et de details, qui leur confère un lieu visuel.
Le plupart de maisons de commerce construites le long, de la rue empruntèrent un style l’inspiration italienne ou second empire, orne d’elements romanesque et classiques. La plupart d’entre elles demeurent intactes et la ville de Saint John peut donc sans contredit affirmer qu’elle possède des exemples de façades commerciales du 19ᵉ
The Great Fire of 1877 image. Click for full size.
By Currier & Ives, 1877
7. The Great Fire of 1877
siècle parmi les plus admirables qui subsistent encore au Canada. En fait, la rue Prince William fut de premier paysage de rue au pays à recevoir, en 1981, un désignation de la Commission des lieux et monuments historiques de Canada, reconnaissant son importance nationale tant du point de vue historique qu’architecturale.
Pour obtenir plus de renseignements l'orque vous arpenterez l’historique rue Prince William, procurez-vous le dépliant initiale (?) Three Historic Walking Tours à un centre de renseignements touristiques pour visiteurs.
Nous vous souhaitons une agréable promenade dans le passe.
 
Location. 45° 16.356′ N, 66° 3.74′ W. Marker is in Saint John, New Brunswick, in Saint John County. Marker is on Prince William Street near King Street, on the left when traveling south. Click for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 71 Prince William Street, Saint John, New Brunswick E2L, Canada.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Centerbeam Place (a few steps from this marker); Scottish Strength (within shouting distance of this marker); The Marco Polo (within shouting distance of this marker); The Landing of the Loyalists (about 90 meters away, measured in a direct line); First Steam Fog Horn (about 90 meters away); First Marine Compound Engine (about 120 meters away); New Brunswick’s First School of Law (about 150 meters away); The Great Fire of 1877/L’incendie de 1877 (about 150 meters away). Click for a list of all markers in Saint John.
 
Also see . . .  Prince William Walk. At 2p.m., on June 20,1877, a flash fire broke out in Fairweather's Hay Store in Portland, at the west end of Union Street. Outside, a brisk nor'wester howled, and as the flames broke through the outside walls of the store, a burning brand was carried by the wind, igniting the nearby MacLaughlan Boiler Works. The fire spread rapidly, engulfing one wooden building, then another, and another, until most of the South End was whipped into a roaring inferno. (Submitted on September 26, 2014, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California.) 
 
Categories. Disasters
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California. This page has been viewed 322 times since then and 15 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on , by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California.   6. submitted on , by Andrew Ruppenstein of Sacramento, California.   7. submitted on , by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California. • Andrew Ruppenstein was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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