The Inside Story Of The 1916 Quaker Fire Released

A massive explosion and resulting fire levels the Quaker Oats plant in Peterborough, Ontario. In the wake of the disaster, 22 workers are dead—two more would later die as a result of their injuries—with the total damage set at a then unfathomable $2,250,000, not including an estimated $225,000 damage to neighbouring structures. 

As the Peterborough community rallies around shattered families and contemplates a possible future without the plant at its center, Quaker officials arrive from Chicago to survey the devastation firsthand, lend their assistance and investigate the opportunity to rebuild the plant.

Featuring a gripping you-are-there narrative as well as numerous archival photographs and newspaper clippings, A Dark Day In Peterborough: A Time To Remember December 11, 1916, is the most comprehensive account of the Quaker explosion and fire, and its aftermath, yet published.

Researched over a 12-year period and written by local historian Gord Young with the assistance of several Lakefield Heritage Research volunteers, its 200-plus pages recount a dark period in Peterborough’s history, the tragedy’s effects on the many the disaster touched and investigates the many theories as to what caused the explosion.    

A Dark Day In Peterborough: A Time To Remember December 11, 1916 will be launched Friday, November 18th, at 1 p.m., at the Peterborough Chamber of Commerce boardroom, 175 George Street North, and author Gord Young will be there.

A Dark Day In Peterborough: A Time To Remember December 11, 1916 is available for purchase for $30 at Chapters, 873 Lansdowne Street West; the Canadian Canoe Museum, 910 Monaghan Road; Sullivan’s Pharmacy, 71 Hunter Street East; Trent Valley Archives, 567 Carnegie Avenue; in Lakefield at Happenstance Books and Yarns, 44 Queen Street and Lakefield IDA Pharmacy, 32 Queen Street; and in Selwyn at Craftworks at The Barn, 124 Lindsay Road.

—guest post by Paul Rellinger

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