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These museum photos show the fire department in the horse-powered days

Two photos about ten years apart show a significant change in the Collingwood Fire Department's method of transportation.

Collingwood’s Fire Department has a long history in town. The uniforms and horse-powered engines have changed a little though.

This week we’re skipping ahead a few entries in the Huron Institute Historical Catalogue Collection, provided to CollingwoodToday weekly by the Collingwood Museum.

It’s not uncommon for photographs not to be located in time for our weekly article as an inventory of the early photograph collection has not been undertaken since the fire that struck the Carnegie Library in 1963. The library basement was home to the Collingwood Museum’s predecessor, the Huron Institute.

It’s unknown whether today’s photograph was originally part of the Huron Institute Collection; however, the description at the top, left corner “Collingwood Fire Brigade July 1st 1914” exactly matches the published record for Huron Institute No. 93. The only difference is that the text in the bottom right corner “Photo Jury & Gregory” is not included in the record. This is not cause for alarm as photographers are rarely recorded in the Institute’s catalogue. Most notably, the identifying, handwritten number that typically appears on the fronts of photographs in the early collection is missing.

If you have a photograph in your collection with a one to four-digit handwritten number on its front, please contact Collingwood Museum staff as you may be safeguarding an original piece of Collingwood’s photographic history.

Today’s featured photograph on postcard stock is of Collingwood’s Fire Brigade. In 1914, the Collingwood Fire Hall was located on the west side of Ste. Marie Street, between Simcoe and Ontario Streets, directly across from All Saints’ Anglican Church. This impressive building was officially opened over Thanksgiving Weekend in 1911, and served Collingwood for 70 years until the opening of the new Police Force and Fire Department Building at the corner of Ontario and Minnesota Streets on July 1, 1981.

The official ground-breaking ceremony for the present-day fire hall at the corner of Third and High Streets occurred in July, 2012. The local detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police continues to operate out of the Minnesota Street location.

If you’ve ever wondered how handwritten text was applied to positive photographs during the development process, please see the second photograph in today’s post. This negative showcases Collingwood’s new fire truck and was taken on June 12, 1926 (Collingwood Museum Collection X2014.10.1). When developed, the text in black would have appeared in white (see third photograph).

According to Douglas G. Skelding’s Ordeal By Fire: A History of the Collingwood Fire Department, 1852-2005, the photograph showcases the 1926 Studebaker-Bickle Triple Combination Pumper. From left to right, the men include: Chief J.A. McAllister, Deputy-Reeve Win Thom, Ed Carmichael, Austin McCarl, and Jack Burns. Notably, the fire department was no longer using horses for their fire trucks.

For more information about the history of Collingwood Fire Department, please contact the Collingwood Museum.

Collingwood Museum Collection 982.24.1

Remember This is a weekly series of historic photographs submitted by the Collingwood Museum to These photographs were originally collected and documented by the Huron Institute in an historical catalogue entitled Huron Institute Paper and Records: Volume III. Much of Collingwood’s early history has been preserved due to the dedication and foresight of the early museum’s founders, namely its secretary-curator David Williams, upon its establishment in 1904.