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Devastating fire left key part of downtown Orillia in ruins

In the second of two-part series, we look back at 1909 blaze that razed Tudhope Carriage Works, several other businesses and homes and left many jobless
230 Tudhope fire from West Street 1909
This view from West Street captures the size and scale of the devastating fire that razed several buildings in 1909.

Postcard Memories is a weekly series of historic postcard views and photos submitted by Marcel Rousseau.

Some were previously published by the Orillia Museum of Art and History and in the book Postcard Memories Orillia.

This is the second in a two-part series on a devastating West Street fire in 1909. Click here to read Part 1 of this two-part series.

Hundreds of Orillians were put out of work when the Tudhope Carriage Works building was destroyed by fire in August 1909. 

This photo was taken from the corner of West and Colborne Streets shortly after the fire started. Within half an hour after the alarm was given, the front wall of this four-storey brick building crumbled and fell and, within one hour, the factory was in ruins.

The intense heat caused the buildings on the north side of Colborne Street to catch fire. A home belonging to Mr. Bloomfield was the first to go. T.B. Mitchell’s store was next, and then Chas. Brennan’s dwelling as well as a number of out buildings in the rear of the houses and stores on West Street were destroyed. 

The D. C. Thomson Co. bakery, a brick building on the northwest corner of Colborne and West, was also destroyed by the fire. Within a few feet of it on West Street, Mrs. John Waddell’s frame building was burned on one side, but contained by the fire brigade, otherwise the whole block as far as the market could have been lost.  

Despite several enticements from other municipalities to relocate, J. B. Tudhope quickly began planning for a new factory and, within weeks, Edward (Ted) Webb was hired to clear the debris and start construction. 

Construction started on Sept. 18 and within nine weeks the new factory was fully operational, re-employing 75 to 100 men.