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The drama of the 1911 Porcupine Fire from big city reporters draws relief via train

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This week’s Timmins history feature picks up from last week, and how newspaper reporters got out stories from the Great Fire 1911 as it was still burning.

Museum director-curator Karen Bachmann says reporters from several big North American papers were already here, reporting on the establishment of mines, because a lot of money from their cities was invested in that work.

“So in Toronto particularly, the Toronto Board of Trade under Timothy Eaton organized relief trains and sent them up as far as they could,” she narrates. “So they ended up at the end of the line, at that time, Matheson.”

There was a rail line into the mining camp, but it, too, was destroyed by the fire.

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There was a lot of investment from New York, into building the Porcupine Mining Camp. So as Bachmann points out, the reporter from the Times played it up with typical New York City drama.

“Many miners lost their lives in efforts to save others and some were drowned. Part of Tisdale has been wiped out, the fire only being controlled by dynamiting a dozen houses in the middle of town. Hundreds fled before the flames, which were eating up the shacks in the outlying section of South Porcupine.”

It went on to describe dense smoke hanging low, making fleeing difficult.

We’ll pick up the story next week on Tuesday, because of the holiday.

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