Transcribed by Gary Carroll - firstname.lastname@example.org
From: LePage, John The Island Minstrel page 202
The Great Conflagration
On the 15th July, 1866, the inhabitants of Charlottetown were awaked from their slumbers by the hoarse clangour of the firebell breaking through the stillness which usually prevails in our midst on a Summer Sunday morning. It was soon discovered that fire had originated among some shavings, in a house recently purchased by Mr. J.G. Eckstadt, hair Dresser, of this City; and which at the time, was undergoing some repairs. The house itself formed part of the group of buildings, known as the Bagnall property; and which from its situation and surroundings, was particularly dangerous as the starting point for an extensive conflagration. The weather for some time previously, had been exceedingly dry, and the roofs of the houses around, in consequence, were almost like tinder, which kindling from the sparks that fell upon them in fiery showers, burst into flames and spread with resistless fury in all directions. The Firemen and inhabitants did all they could, but notwithstanding their utmost efforts, the buildings on four blocks, in the most populous part of the city were in a few hours, almost entirely destroyed. It is estimated that property to the amount of £ 60,000 was consumed by the devouring element; not more than one third of which was covered by Insurance.
The following letter was received from a young friend in Canada West, to whom was sent a copy of the verses, printed below.
21 August, 1866
Dear Friend Lepage;
I received, the other day, an exceedingly good and at the same time somewhat amusing poetical account of the late disastrous fire which destroyed so large a portion of the good old city of Charlotte town. One of my sisters intimated by a few words that it was a present from you. Now, I must just say that I am very much obliged to you for your kindness in thinking of me in this far off portion of the half-civilized world.You will therefore accept of my thanks for your very welcome present.
And believe me, yours truly,
To John lePage, Esq.
"Fire! Fire! said the crier;
In Pownal Street! said Major Beete,
Enwrapt in balmy slumbers, lay
In haste they rose, put on their clothes,
Thence, raging conflagration red
Southward, the fiery current streams,
But ah! to trace their onward way
And now remark, one fatal spark!
"How great a matter!" who can tell
Across Queen Street the flame is sent,
With all its neighboring range!-- and how
Up! up the hill! to Great George Street
Some say the Bishop turn'd the flame;