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Canadian parliament burned to the ground
The Canadian parliament building after the fire. Members of the search team can be seen among the wreckage. The building still standing is the library building which was saved from the fire. Photo: Illustrated London News [London, England], 24 February 1916

Canadian parliament burned to the ground

Ottowa, 5 February 1916 - Canadian Parliament Buildings in Ottawa have been almost completely destroyed by fire.

Apparently emanating from the reading room, the fire spread with startling rapidity last night trapping some in their offices. This was facilitated by the extent of wood throughout the buildings. The Library of the Parliament narrowly escaped the conflagration.

Up to six people – including two female guests of the Speaker of the House – have died. Others are missing, including at least one MP. Among those who are seriously injured is the Canadian Minister for Agriculture, Martin Burrell.

A special news bulletin announcing that the Canadian Parliament buildings have been destroyed by fire. (Image: Courtesy of Toronto Public Library)

Germans suspected of arson
Rumours of German involvement in the fire – and in other fires across Canada – remain unproven but have spread wildly.

The leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party John Redmond cabled the Premier of Canada: ‘All Ireland filled with indignation at brutal outrage. Accept deepest sympathy of our people.’

The buildings were constructed in the 1870s and the cost of replacement is put at more than $2 million.

[Editor's note: This is an article from Century Ireland, a fortnightly online newspaper, written from the perspective of a journalist 100 years ago, based on news reports of the time.]


Century Ireland

The Century Ireland project is an online historical newspaper that tells the story of the events of Irish life a century ago.