KGH: 175 years of caring - Christmas Fire, 1897

News / KGH History
By Pamela Peacock

This week's article is by the Museum's curator, Dr. Pamela Peacock.

On the morning of Christmas Eve in 1897, fire broke out in the St. George's Ward of the then 35-year-old Watkins wing. One of the orderlies, preparing the wax to polish the floors, spilled turpentine on an open flame, igniting the fire. The fire hydrants were frozen so hoses had to be run from the Doran building (1894), adjacent to Watkins. A brigade of firemen and volunteers fought valiantly to keep the fire from spreading to the Main Building by passing buckets of water hand-to-hand, and succeeded but for a small patch of roof. Forty of forty-seven patients were evacuated and moved to other wings of the hospital while seven sick children were moved to the Orphan's home on Union Street for temporary shelter; no one was hurt.

Almost immediately, the Board began planning to rebuild. Designed by William Newlands, the reconstructed wing had an additional storey, a proper fire escape, electric wiring, and an improved heating unit.

Major renovations were also undertaken between 1929 and 1931 in the Main building and Watkins wing.

For more information, visit the Museum of Health Care online or download the new App: "Transformation of the Kingston General Hospital 1835-1914."

KGH will mark the 175th anniversary durning the week of September 23, 2013.

Do you have an interesting story to share about your history with KGH? Use the comment section below to tell us!

Special thanks to our presenting sponsor, Lovell Drugs and our event sponsors, Honeywell and KCCU.