Sunday, July 10, 2016

10 Part Series on the Major Fires of Saint-Hyacinthe (Part 5) November 28, 1917

The Hôtel-Dieu in flames!

In one night, the entire central part of the building is razed.

Here is what Mgr Charles-Philippe Choquette in History of the City of Saint-Hyacinthe  : "It has been said that all the people of Saint-Hyacinthe witnessed on site of the calamity of November 28, 1917. During half hour, the bells of the churches and chapels sounded the alarm and called for help college students were allocated the task of saving the furniture;. citizens gathered the old men while the ladies seized the children and gave them asylum and several nuns. compassion was general and expressive. It is claimed that a smoldering match thrown by a smoker would be the cause of the fire.

All parts of the stone building was engulfed in flames within hours, it remains now only rubble.Hundreds of people were in the building at the time of the fire, namely the elderly, infirm children stalked by a terrible death. It is estimated that between five and six hundred people were hospitalized.
In fact, after the fire, the sisters settled temporarily in both wings intact. There remains only the orphanage.

When it was learned that the Hotel-Dieu was in flames, the bells tolled in churches and chapels of the city for half an hour. A special train transported to Saint-Hyacinthe twenty firefighters and steam pumps to contain the fire. According to some historians, the last words of chef Pierre-Agapit Foisy, while fighting the destructive element on the third floor of the Hotel-Dieu, were said in this context: it departed somewhat from the heart of the disaster to go to the kitchen in a state of weakness and extreme fatigue caused by superhuman efforts posed to contain the fire. He asked that he be paid a coffee and even before he could pour a cup, he exclaimed, turning pale: Please, give me a chair, I am dying! These were his last words, for just sitting, he gave up the ghost in a last breath. "

The funeral of the chief Foisy were no less friendly. Mgr Choquette: "The city made ​​fresh with extraordinary pomp Never perhaps one lives scroll the center of the city such a large procession the first songs of the.. office resounded under the vault of the cathedral and hundreds of protesters were still waiting at the door of the funeral home to take rank in the procession this highlighted the following order. led the Philharmonic and fire cars charged floral tributes, the fire chief Adjutor Bourgeois, the hearse escorted by six regular firefighters and six volunteer firefighters acting as porters, the family of the deceased, the city Council in full, municipal employees. school children, the judiciary, professionals, industrialists, labor organizations, crowd the choir, several ecclesiastical dignitaries. in the nave, the staff of teaching communities and their schools reflected the universality of grief ".

In the weeks that followed, a public fundraising campaign was launched to collect more than $ 25 000.00. The City of Saint-Hyacinthe offers for its part: $15 000,00.
The name of the subscribers appear for several weeks in the mail with the amount they give. The reconstruction began in 1922.

(Translation may contain errors)

(c)2016 Linda Sullivan-Simpson

No comments:

Post a Comment