A number of activities are planned this weekend (December 10th-11th) to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the Quaker Oats factory fire. Twenty-four workers died when a fire and explosion decimated Peterborough’s Quaker Oats plant on December 11th, 1916—a day in Peterborough history no one will ever forget.
There will be a candlelight vigil at Crickett Place near Driscoll Terrace at 7 p.m. on Saturday, December 10th, followed by a social at Mark Street United Church hosted by Unifor Local 1996. The social will feature the premiere of the documentary Tragedy on the Otobanee. Directed by Peterborough photographer Paul Brown, Tragedy on the Otobanee is narrated by Graham Hart and provides a historical account of the disaster and features personal anecdotes from survivors and family of the deceased workers.
On Sunday, December 11th, there will be a non-denominational service at Immaculate Conception Church in honour of the lost workers.
“Our community is finally starting to pay proper tribute to the men who died in the fire,” says Jane Garvey Gill, whose grandfather William John Garvey died as a result of the explosion and fire. Garvey Gill is the co-chair of the Quaker Fire Descendants Organizing Committee with Lorna Green, whose grandfather Dennis O'Brien and great-grandfather William Hogan both lost their lives in the fire.
The Quaker Fire Descendants Organizing Committee has driven efforts in the community to build a proper memorial to the 24 workers. While the memorial has received preliminary approval from the City of Peterborough, it will not be completed in time to mark the 100th Anniversary of the fire.
Instead, the committee is aiming to have the monument completed by April 28th, 2017—recognized as the National Day of Mourning which commemorates the thousands of workers who have been killed, injured or suffered illness as a result of work-related incidents.
Limestone has been donated for the monument, but the Quaker Fire Organizing Committee still needs to raise $15,000 to build the monument. “The City doesn’t have the money in their budget to build the monument, so it is up to us,” says Garvey Gill. Donations will be handled by the City’s Financial Services Department, which will issue charitable tax receipts for donations.
Here Are The Event Details For The Weekend...
-> Candlelight Vigil – Saturday, December 10 at 7 pm Crickett Place near Driscoll Terrace
-> Premiere of Tragedy on the Otonabee – Saturday, December 10 at 8 pm. Mark Street United Church, 90 Hunter St E.
-> Non-denominational Service – Sunday, December 11 at 2 pm. Immaculate Conception Church - 386 Rogers St.
Names of the workers lost in the Quaker Oats fire on December 11th, 1916: Edward Howley – Domenico Martino – Walter Thomas Holden – Thomas Parsons – William Henry Mesley – William Miles – Dennis O’Brien – Alphonse McGee – James William Gordon – James Foster – George Wellington Vosbourg – Albert Ernest Staunton – William Hogan – John Conway – Fillippo Capone – Patrick O’Connell – John Carter Kemp – Vicenzo del Fornaro – Richard Chowen – William John Teatro – William Walsh – Joseph Leo Houlihan – William John Garvey – Richard Healey