Fire has been an issue was has plagued the town of Souris long before its formal inception, and as such there have been attempts to organize a fire response for time immemorial.
After a number of fires throughout the span of a few years, an Act of General Assembly was passed on 19 May 1899, which stated, in part, that "occupants of every house, office, store, etc., shall provide and keep one canvas bucket or zinc bucket (2 gallons or more) with owner's name painted thereon which bucket shall be hung in passage or hall...Everyone to have ladders sufficient to enable water to be carried to every part of the house in the event of fire...All homes and buildings to be inspected by fire wardens once every six months".
And while this may now seem like a meager attempt at fire prevention, it was seen as a grand improvement upon any other ineffectual solution which had so far been attempted. This Act was also noteworthy, as it was the first step taken towards municipal government in the town.
By the time of the Imperial fire in 1909, the Village had, at least, one hand-operated fire engine.Notes on the Imperial Fire:
☀hotel quarters above.39
In 1909, when the Imperial Hotel
burned, the occupants of the lower floor were Marshall Paquet with a fruit
and confectionery store and J.J. Hughes and Company, General Merchants.
George McQuaid, a young clerk for J. J. Hughes, has left an account of the
morning of the fire. He and A. G. Baker opened up, took off the dust curtains
and lit the Quebec Heater. There was a roar in the pipe, which went up
through the floor, and a noise as it fell in the room above. It was a calm day,
but the fire spread rapidly through the huge complex of wooden buildings at
the back. The citizens fought the blaze with a hand pumped fire engine.
Another fire engine was sent out from Charlottetown on a flat car. It
arrived, as Jack Cantwell recalled, with the steam pressure already up.
Horses hauled it to the site, the hose was attached and there was "enough
pressure to rip the shingles off the building." The Imperial was gone but no
other buildings burned although the Methodist Church a short distance to
the west was badly damaged.40
The Sterns Brothers, J. Geddie (known as J.G.) and Charles, from