Postcard with photo of the aftermath of the deadliest fire ever to hit Northern Ontario.
Barren burnt-out land, with makeshift lean-to made up of blanket and corrugated metal sheet, tent further down ‘road’. In foreground, pots, pans and coffee pot.
‘South Porcupine after fire. Tomkinson Photo’.
Based on AZO photographic paper used, dates to 1910-1930.
On back ‘Photo by Tomkinson Bros. South Porcupine, Ont.’
Light bit of toning UR corner. Small smudge on back. Toning UL and lower edge.
(Red text is an electronic watermark that is not physically part of the photo for sale)
The Great Porcupine Fire of 1911 was one of the most devastating forest fires ever to strike the Ontario northland. Spring had come early that year, followed by an abnormally hot dry spell that lasted into the summer.
Porcupine, a community on the north side of Porcupine Lake, in the city of Timmins, Ontario, Canada, was the site of a huge gold discovery in 1907. On July 11, 1911, when the Porcupine Gold Rush was at its height, a gale from the southwest whipped some small bush fires into flames.
The blaze formed a horseshoe-shaped front over 36 kilometres wide with flames shooting 30 metres into the air. It laid waste to about 200,000 hectares (over 494,000 acres) of forest and killed at least 70 people, though early reports indicated thousands. Many people were drowned as they fled into Porcupine Lake to escape the flames, while others suffocated to death under the mines. At one point, a car of dynamite stored at the railway station exploded, lashing the lake into waves 3 metres high. The exact number of dead is not known as the vast forest in the region contained an unknown number of prospectors at the time of the fire. Official counts list 73 dead, though it is estimated the actual toll could have been as high as 200.
Mining camps and the boomtowns of South Porcupine and Pottsville were destroyed; Golden City (now called Porcupine) and Porquis Junction were partially destroyed. The next day, the fire swept through the nearby town of Cochrane.
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