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Lesson 5 - Fire Disaster Lesson
In this lesson your students will learn the difference between primary and secondary sources and the strengths and weaknesses of these sources of information while comparing three Canadian fire disasters.
Canada has many thousands of fires every year. These are only disastrous to a few families or a few people and certainly could not be classified as a Canadian disaster.
Fire can become disastrous simply by the laws of nature; forest fire, mostly caused by lightning, has erupted in many parts of Canada whenever dry and hot temperature permits. On average, about 10,100 forest fires occur annually in Canada. However, forest fire plays an important role in most forest ecosystems because it has helped to maintain their health and diversity. They can, however, become a major disaster by burning into communities and causing major devastation. There are many examples of that; however, for this lesson we have selected the Porcupine fire of 1911. It was one of the most devastating ever to ravage the northland of Ontario.
Numerous cities have had disastrous fires, particularly in the 19th century when crowded, wooden buildings were concentrated. For instance:
Yet, the Halifax Explosion of December 6, 1917 probably ranks as Canada's most famous disaster and the worst single misfortune in our history. We have selected two major city fires for the focus of this lesson the Halifax Explosion of December 6, 1917 and the New Westminster, British Columbia fire of September 10, 1898.
Body of Lesson
The challenge of this lesson is to examine the sources of information that an investigator, historian, journalist, a writer of non-fiction or even historical fiction can use to tell the story of these Canadian disasters.
Review the chart completed by your students and conduct a whole class discussion about what they have learned about primary and secondary sources from their research: