The Heritage Corner, Springhill Record

July 29, 2009

Wed. July 29, 2009 – Lives lost in fire

Here are some items from the Springhill Record dated Thursday 2, 1939.

Springhill was shocked and saddened to learn that Mr. and Mrs. Robt. Murray lost their lives in a disastrous fire that broke out in the Queen Hotel at Halifax early this morning. Mr. Murray is the son of Col. And Mrs. Daniel Murray of this town, and a valued member of the firm Stairs, Son & Morrow of Halifax.

Another Cumberland person missing at press time and believed dead, was Donald Dewer of Wallace, while his father, Arthur Dewer, barely escaped with his own life.

While reports out of Halifax telling the story are definite, it was reported to The Record by Mr. Archie Smith, Cumberland M.L.A., who is in Halifax attending the Provincial Legislature that the fire had taken disastrous toll of that section of the city and was still raging at 11:30 this morning. Latest reports in the city were that 47 had escaped from the various buildings, while 27 were still missing. Twenty had been taken to Hospital suffering from various injuries sustained as many of them were forced to jump from the windows.

Mr. and Mrs. Murray Missing, Believed Dead

In contact with Mr. Bert Hayes at Halifax, George Haystead learned late this morning that Mr. and Mrs. Murray had definitely lost their lives. Mr. and Mrs. Murray, friends of Mr. Hayes, occupied winter quarters on the third floor of the Queens Hotel. Checking on Mr. Murray, Mr. Hayes stated it was definitely established he had escaped from the building, but when he learned his wife had not reached the street safely he dashed back to rescue her. He was never seen again.

The latest word at that time was that the fire was swinging north from the Queen Hotel and had wiped out several business houses until it had reached the fire proof structure of the Canadian General Electric Company at the corner of Hollis and Sackville Streets, where it was hoped it could be delayed long enough to gain control. The Halifax Hotel, which was at first said to have been destroyed, was later said to have been only partially burned.

Discussing the fire with Mr. Arthur Dewer of Wallace, Mr. Archie Smith, M.L.A. for Cumberland told The Record over the long distance wire this morning that Mr. Dewer had a very close call with his own life. As he was dressing at 6:45 this morning he opened the door of his room and stared right into a mass of flames licking along the hallway. His son was occupying another room near the elevator, but he could not move in the face of the flames. He dashed for the window and after some time was rescued by the Department. The son, Donald, was among the missing and believed dead. Both father and son belong to Wallace where they are connected to the quarry. They were working in Halifax on a new building there which was using Wallace stone. Dr. Dewer pointed out to Mr. Smith that there was no fire escape connected with his room – not even the usual rope which one finds in most hotels.

Among others who have not been heard of are Reginald Caldwell, former M.L.A. of Kentville, and a member of the Board of Censors of the Provincial Government.

Cecil Murray of Sackville, N.B., arrived by car this morning, and at noon left for Halifax accompanied by Col. And Mrs. Daniel Murray, parents of the missing “Bob” Murray, and Charlie Murray, who with Cecil are brothers of the deceased.

On another note: As you probably read in the Record last week that the Springhill Heritage Group, of which I am a member, are getting ready to open our new building in August. If you have any artefacts which you would like to donate or lend the Heritage Group it would be greatly appreciated. There will be a room set up where these different artefacts are displayed. Will keep you posted on the opening.