Mr. G. T. Fulford (Leeds):
Mr. Speaker, I rise on a question of privilege, and if I take longer than usual in stating my question I would ask your indulgence, sir.
I should like to tell the house very briefly a story of co-operation and courage that keeps alive one's faith in human nature.
Last Saturday at midnight a fire broke out in Brockville which at one time threatened the entire business section of the town, but, through superhuman effort, was confined to one city block. In spite of the heroic efforts of the Brockville Are department it was soon found that to control the fire was beyond the power of one department; therefore urgent appeals were made to other centres, whose response was immediate.
The first to arrive were the fire fighters from the Royal Canadian Regiment with army equipment. Almost immediately firemen and fire trucks from Prescott, Athens and Smiths Falls were on the scene, and, as soon as they could be ferried across the St. Lawrence river, a pumper, aerial ladder truck, crew and special police force from Ogdensburg, New York, arrived. Seamen from the Canadian navy sloop Oriol, which happened to be in port, joined forces with the firemen, soldiers and citizens, so the fire was ultimately brought under control by complete municipal and military aid and international co-operation.
Fire fighting is always hazardous, but with the temperature at almost zero it becomes an almost unbearable ordeal. Throughout the night a group of young women kept the fire fighters supplied with hot coffee and sandwiches, while others were on hand to crack ice off the fire fighters' coats, helmets, gloves and boots.
Fortunately no lives were lost and no serious injuries suffered, but nearly one hundred persons were made homeless.
On Sunday morning appeals for assistance were made from all the pulpits of the Brockville churches, and at one o'clock Mayor W. Fred Reynolds spoke over radio station CFJM to ask for money, clothing and other
necessities. By five o'clock on Sunday afternoon the receiving centre had been moved no less than three times in order to provide greater accommodation for the mass of goods that started to pour in, and by nine in the evening half the second floor of the city hall looked like a department store. In addition, the sum of $2,500 had been received in cash donations, and I am told the fund is now over $6,000. One farmer arrived with two dozen eggs, and emptied his purse, which contained $1.03. An elderly woman donated $1.85, and said that it was all she had at the moment, but that she would give more on Wednesday when her pay cheque arrived.
The generosity of the people of Brockville exceeds the bounds of any possible expectation; and what applies to Brockville extends to the entire district, which includes several communities in northern New York state. Truly the cardinal Christian principle, "love thy neighbour" knows no international boundary in North America.
A disaster such as Brockville has just experienced brings out, in no uncertain way, the best in all of us, regardless of race or creed, and serves to make us proud that we are Canadians and fortunate enough to live on the continent of North America.
I should like to thank the Prime Minister, the Acting Minister of National Defence, and the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of National Defence for the prompt and sympathetic attention given the request that certain huts at the Royal Canadian Regiment camp be made available to the municipal authorities at Brockville. I can assure you, Mr. Speaker, that these huts will serve a most useful and humane purpose in looking after the temporary housing needs of the hundred men, women and children who were made homeless as a result of the worst fire in the history of Brockville.
Subtopic: DISASTROUS FIRE IN BUSINESS SECTION
Sub-subtopic: CO-OPERATION OF OTHER AGENCIES