Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Beiseker's History: Fires!

King George Hotel fire, 1936.
From Beiseker's Golden Heritage
As you are aware, I am very proud of Beiseker's volunteer fire department which, in my opinion, is second to none in this great province. 

Firefighting today is a science and our volunteers are constantly upgrading their skills and training with courses and practices. 

But fire has been an enemy of this village since it started as a small hamlet a hundred years ago.  Early volunteer firefighters had little water and structures built entirely of wood and insulated with wood shavings to contend with. 

Despite the heroic efforts of those early volunteers, fire has destroyed much of Beiseker's historic buildings over the years. Here are a few of the early fires;
  • In 1929, a fire destroyed the Hagel & Held Block on Main Street
  • Sam Dattner's store at the west end of Main Street (near where Ng's restaurant is today) burned to the ground in the early 1930s.
  • In 1932 the building built by E.C. Aisenstat at the corner of Main Street and First Avenue (now occupied by Apple Pie)  burned down.
  • In 1936, the King George Hotel located at the corner of Main Street and Second Avenue (at the current location of the hardware store) was totally destroyed by fire. Approximately fifty years later, the Beiseker Hotel located down the street from the King George, suffered the same fate.
  • In 1944, fire destroyed Mrs. E. N. Hagel's home.
  • In 1944 the Roman Catholic Rectory (located in front of St. Mary's Cemetery) burned down.
  • In 1945, fire destroyed the pool hall, barber shop, Stimac's confectionary, and the post office located on Main Street.
  • 1953 saw the destruction by fire of the Beiseker Curling Rink, built in 1939.
Despite these horrible events, Beiseker and its folks survived and thrived.  There are likely dozens of acts of valour and heroism connected with those disasters now forgotten in time. 

Whenever I see our volunteer firefighters in their shiny trucks, I am reminded of how far we've come over the past hundred years.

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