Scarce photo postcard of the deadliest fire ever to hit Northern Ontario. Billowing smoke in background, approaching the buildings in city of Porcupine. Porcupine was a gold rush town in the Timmins area of Northern Ontario.
Over 70 people died and there was much devastation to buildings and mines in its path.
Hand printed on negative:
‘Storm and fire in Porcupine. Copyright. Canada by H. Peters. 1911’.
Can see on negative where text ‘Storm and fire in Porcupine”at left was rubbed out and moved to the right corner. That version in Library and Archives Canada.
From an exhibition at Concordia where this photo was featured, described it so:
Although not a portrait in the traditional sense, this dramatic image illustrating the devastating Porcupine Camp fire of 1911 points to the miners whose lives were consumed and obstructed by the flames. At the height of the Timmins gold rush, the Porcupine Camp fire killed at least seventy people and razed almost five hundred thousand acres of land. The outline of miner’s homes in the distance encourages the viewer to imagine the people whose lives were affected by this disaster. In this photograph, Henry Peters has captured the turbulent waters and billowing smoke so thick that the viewer can hardly make out whether the photograph was taken in the morning or evening. Peters’ writing on the negative contributes to the documentary aspect of this image; inserting his name denotes him as a witness to this devastating event. Although the fire destroyed much of the development in the Northern mining community, very few people abandoned Porcupine. The potential for further discovery and excavation kept the thirty thousand miners and prospectors living on the shores of Porcupine Lake, before the relocation to the vicinity of Hollinger Mine.
AZO photographic paper used confirms date 1910-1930.
There are circular corner creases and marks (front & back) where mounted in an album.
(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.