Bonner / In Loving Memory Of / Margaret Jean Moir / Aged 26 Years / William D. Aged 7 Yrs 3 Mths / Margaret Aged 8 Yrs / Alfred Aged 4 Yrs 6 Mths / Edith Aged 1 Yr 5 Mths / Accidentally Burned To Death / June 20 1925 in Jasper Alta / Charles ....... / Beloved Wife And Family Of / James Bonner / Erected By The Citizens Of Jasper
Story from Jasper Yellowhead Museum & Archives:
A Local Tragedy
Chimneys and locomotives were probably the most common cause of fire during Jasper's early days. Fires that were particularly devastating often became catalysts for improvements and new regulations for fire safety and prevention. The Bonner family fire in June of 1920 provides such an example. This tragic house fire was considered to be Jasper's most disasterous fire for the time. James Bonner and his young family had just completed their family dwelling and were awaiting the arrival of some new furnishings.
Edmonton Journal (July 2, 1920): 'He [James Bonner] had been working all night at his occupation of car inspector [for Grand Trunk] and knew nothing of the fire until the shrieking whistles in town called him from his work. Following along with the crowd to the scene of the fire Mr. Bonner found his home in ruins with three children burned to death and mother and baby on the point of death.' An inquest into the fire concluded that it was accidental. However, Mr. Bonner had lost almost his entire family, except his eldest son (age 8) who survived. The town of Jasper was devastated. The Edmonton Journal also made mention of of the government's fire fighting services: 'Great praise is given to the government fire services for their promptness and skilful handling of a very dangerous situation.' It was because of the Bonner fire that town lots were increased to one hundred feet square (this was because three other houses were burned and damaged, because of the Bonner fire) and a bell was put on the fire station to better alert volunteers of emergencies.
Photos courtesy of Bill Hartford 
Indexed by Sherri Pettit
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