Today is an anniversary in our family... and also in the city of Fredericton. Not many these days would remember it, but today is the 67th anniversary of one of the largest fires Fredericton has ever seen, and it happened right here on my family's property.
Our place originally was a fox ranch. My paternal grandfather, Alphonso Kelly (yes my grandfather was the original Fonz!!) raised foxes, and sold pelts to the Hudson Bay Co. May 10, 1943 was a very windy day, and a fire started in the building where meat was being prepared for the foxes. Stiff winds carried it quickly to several other small outbuildings and before long the Kellys had a major fire on their hands. At one point my father was up on the roof of the barn beating out flames, and someone else came along and removed the ladder, not knowing he was up there, leaving him trapped for a time. My mother, pregnant with my oldest brother, was at work as an R.N. at the Victoria Public Hospital when someone came in and said there was a big fire on the Kelly farm. She quickly found someone to drive her home. I can only imagine her fear as she saw the fire quickly spreading down the hill towards the city, starting new grass and bush fires as it was fanned by the winds..
It burned all the way down the old Woodstock Road- what is now known as Golf Club Road - destroying five homes, six barns and outbuildings, through the old brickyard (currently Garden Place), to Hanwell Road, through what is now Sunshine Gardens and almost to Smythe Street. It not only destroyed buildings, but also a number of silver foxes, pigs, cows and 400 chickens. The Daily Gleaner reported that two miles of hose were required to battle the blaze, along with the Fredericton Fire Department, auxilliary equipment from the Provincial Forest Fire Service plus 300-400 troops from the No. 7 District Depot.
Of course, this happened before my time, but I have heard the story many times, and have the newspaper clippings... Interesting reading for sure, and a story long forgotten by most, but a significant day in my family's history...
Having someplace to go is home. Having someone to love is family. Having both is a blessing.