|Name||Excelsior Fire Department|
The Excelsior Fire Department (EFD) was a volunteer firefighting force at Owen Sound. There is information about it in the book SIRENS ACROSS THE SOUND: AN ILLUSTRATED HISTORY OF THE OWEN SOUND FIRE DEPARTMENT, 2006, by John Christie. The book WHERE'S THE FIRE, also mentions the EFD.
The Excelsior Fire Department came into being c. 1890. There was a previous volunteer unit as well, called the Victoria _______,
The "Excelsior" part of the name was obtained from the Excelsior insurance company. In 1907, the town of Owen Sound established a permanent force of paid firemen, supplemented with assistance by volunteers. The EFD was disbanded on April 13, 1907, and then the Owen Sound Fire Department (OSFD), a municipally-paid force was in operation after that.
The EFD volunteers had red shirts with EFD on them. There were also ribbon badges and pins produced for the unit. Some of them are shown in a newspaper article "History a Hot Topic at Fire Hall", OWEN SOUND SUN-TMES, Nov. 20, 2002 B1.
The fire bell tower used to be located on the original Town Hall building in Owen Sound. A dummy clock was painted on the tower. The fire bell came from Troy, New York, and dates to c. 1878. The firefighters also had a very tall hose tower structure as part of their firehall in the 1870s+. The tall structure was needed for drying out the hoses.
Some of the 19th-century volunteer firefighters of Owen Sound were:
Robert Wyllie Jr. (1875 joined the "Rescue Hook and Ladder Company")
John Tucker (1874 enrolled with the "No. 1 Engine Company of the Fire Department of the Town of Owen Sound)
Thomas Gordon (Chief Engineer, 1870s)
W. J. Carr (c. 1893, later was Chief of the Excelsior Fire Department)
Capt. Davis (c. 1893)
Fireman Hicks (c. 1893)
Fireman Christie (c. 1893)
George W. Baines (EFD Secretary c. 1905)
B. Pickard (EFD Captain c. 1905)
The Excelsior Fire Department, in addition to firefighting, also provided social entertainment for the town, by proving oyster suppers, dances, excursions, etc. The OWEN SOUND TIMES of Dec. 21, 1893 mentioned on page one that there was a gold watch contest for the favourite firefighter in town.
The brick firehall building was located near the Town Hall. An 1890s image of the fire hall shows that it also served as a Police Court building (1996.038.181 image). The CANADIAN TRADE REVIEW of August, 1899 included a scene of the volunteers posed outside the fire hall with their rigs.
Fire Chief's helmet from the EXCELSIOR FIRE DEPARTMENT (1890s-1907, Owen Sound, Ont.). This is a stiff leather and metal item that is painted white with a white and red crest on the front with CHIEF (the letters "I" and "F" are now missing) on top and OSFD on the bottom. There is a quatrefoil, cut out design positioned inbetween the two red areas. There is a gold painted metal leaping lion finial coming from the top of the helmet and it appears to be leaping over the crest. The brim sides are turned upward. There are four ridges on the helmet crown and a metal ring to hang it up affixed to the downwards curved back rim.
EXCELSIOR FIRE DEPARTMENT leather belt (1890s-1907). Might be a "parade belt". White and red.
Fire Chief's small-sized lantern. It has a hand ring at the top for carrying the lantern. The colourless glass globe inside is etched with the word "Chief" above a laurel motif. The globe is protected from breakage by wire that provides a cage around it. The metal is silvertone.
A factory-made wooden and metal Morris Chair (a), with its two upholstered original cushions (c&d) still in place. It has a black-finished, removable twist metal back bar (b), and there is a pull-out faux black leather footrest, that is hinged over a rectangular compartment. No maker's identification is seen. The reclining feature of the chair (two screwed on metal racks, each with four metal curls) allows it to be quickly adjusted for comfort. The chair is now missing one of its shiny brown rolling castors. There is some damage at one of the fretwork lyre shapes that support the arms. The brown finish is worn and chipped and marred from past use. The arm rests have a noticeable unmatched l