Great Aylmer fire of 1921
---Auberge Symmes Museum launches 2021 summer programming
With Covid-19 safety measures recently adjusted to orange zone regulations, the Auberge Symmes Museum is planning to officially reopen its doors to the community. With the launch of its 2021 summer programming scheduled for June 6, at 1 pm, the museum is kicking off the season by inaugurating a temporary exhibit of The Great Aylmer Fire of 1921 to commemorate the incident’s 100th anniversary. A press release, issued by the museum on May 27, explained that the exhibit will showcase vintage fire prevention artifacts from the Aylmer Volunteer Fire Brigade – donated by former chiefs of the Aylmer fire department Rolland Guertin and Léo Routh – and a video montage visualizing the damage the fire caused on rue Principale and surrounding streets, as well as rare footage filmed days after the incident.
The museum explained that the fire took place at the Holt Hotel on the corner of Main and Bancroft streets, on August 10, 1921. Caused by strong winds, it said the fire quickly spread through downtown Aylmer, ravaging more than 125 homes and businesses, and leaving 700 people homeless, and one person dead. Despite the Ottawa and Hull fire departments stepping in to assist the Aylmer Volunteer Fire Brigade, it said firefighters weren’t able to eliminate the blaze, eventually seeing it fizzle out once reaching farms north of Aylmer. It added that the Ottawa Militia responded to the tragedy by helping establish a tent city on the grounds of what is now the Aydelu Centre.
With admission free, the museum will be open Tuesday to Sunday from noon to 6 pm – noting that masks and social distancing are mandatory. More information about the museum’s temporary programming is available on its website - http://symmes.ca/expositions/temporaire/.