'Lest we forget': Canada's major wildland fire disasters of the past, 1825-1938
Document Type: Conference Proceedings
Author(s): Martin E. Alexander
Editor(s): Dale D. Wade
Publication Year: 2010

Cataloging Information

  • Canada
  • catastrophic fires
  • fatalities
  • fire environment
  • large fires
  • Maine
  • tragedy fires
  • wildfires
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Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: December 24, 2019
FRAMES Record Number: 10940


This paper provides an overview and summary of nine of the most devastating wildland fire disasters to have occurred in Canada and in some cases, adjoining areas of the United States, in the distant past. The list includes the following cases: 1825-Miramichi, New Brunswick/Maine; 1870-Saguenay - Lac-Saint-Jean, Quebec; 1908-Fernie, British Columbia; 1910-Baudette, Minnesota/Rainy River, Ontario; 1911-Porcupine, Ontario; 1916-Matheson, Ontario; 1919-Saskatchewan/Alberta; 1922-Haileybury, Ontario; and 1938-Dance Township, Ontario. The loss of life was a significant feature in all of these fires. Drawing upon written and photographic resources, the main features of each incident are highlighted. While some of the factors responsible for these past disasters have changed, there is ever reason to suspect that similar occurrences are still possible today. The first step to avoiding any further tragedies with respect to wildland fire disasters is public awareness. Hopefully the compilation of information documented in this paper will serve as a constant and endearing reminder of Canada's history of past wildland fire disasters.

Online Link(s):
Link to this document (2.2 MB; pdf)
Alexander, M. E. 2010. 'Lest we forget': Canada's major wildland fire disasters of the past, 1825-1938. In: Wade, Dale D (editors). Proceedings of 3rd Fire Behavior and Fuels Conference, 25-29 October 2010, Spokane, WA. Birmingham, AL: International Association of Wildland Fire. 21 p.