Friday, September 19, 2008

Sudbury Steelworkers' Hall Is Burning Down

I am typing this during a brief interlude at home to collect some stuff before retreating back to the home of the friends who are kindly letting us stay at their place tonight. We can't stay at home because of the big cloud of smoke in our neighbourhood coming from the fire at the historic Sudbury Steelworkers' Hall.

According to the article in the Sudbury Star (the link will only work for the first week or so) the fire was called in at 2 am last night. It is, as I said, still burning at 9 pm tonight. They have decided the building cannot be saved and are taking measures to ensure its orderly collapse. Thankfully, nobody has been seriously hurt. Our house is in no danger at all, but the smell of smoke is unpleasant and probably not terribly healthy. L's school, which is right nearby, was evacuated part way through the day, and he spent the remainder of the day at a school in the south end of the city watching Monsters, Inc.. It also meant we went out to dinner at his favourite restaurant rather than eating at home, and he is excited to be sleeping over at our friends' house. So things have worked out fine for him, though I am finding it a bit of a pain.

L and I were actually in the hall yesterday for the first time in ages, for the portion of Sudbury's "Take Back The Night" that is open to all genders. It's weird to think that only a few hours later, the building was on fire. No word as to the cause, but the fire marshal will be investigating.

The building has stood since the 1940s, and has been a union hall since 1964. The historian-from-below in me mourns the loss of countless documents related to the rich history of working-class struggle in this city.


The dissenter said...

Hey Scott,

This pains me to hear about this news. (I'm living in Toronto now, so this news just got to me). It sounds suspicious rather than coincidental that the building came down after TBTN. A city landmark gone up in flames.

I hope that you're back in your home again.

Take care,


Scott said...

Hey Leyna...great to hear from you!

Yes, it is very sad news. I'm not aware that the fire marshal has made a final determination, but I was told a couple of days ago by someone who would know that it has been labelled "suspicious" and is being investigated as a possible arson. I certainly hope they don't neglect the possibility that it might have been a misogynistic response to TBTN!

And, yes, we're home...we only stayed away for a couple of nights. We still have some concerns about what it will mean when they get down to the demolition in earnest (which they have not yet started, I think because of the investigation) as the building has plenty of asbestos in it. They reopened College Street and Frood Road in front of the building just today, so things are pretty much back to normal...for the neighbourhood, though not for the union, I suppose.

I hope you are enjoying Toronto!

Take care,

Scott 8)