Friday, March 3, 2017
What exactly happened at the Laurier Palace Fire in Montreal 1927?
I'm reading the testimony of a young man at the Police Inquest into the Laurier Palace Fire, that happened in January, 1927 where 78 children died.
I'm doing this because in 1924, a policeman testifying at the Coderre Inquiry into Police Impropriety warned, "One day there's going to be a catastrophe One day there's going to be a fire in a movie theatre, and people won't be able to get out."
This Trudeau testified against my grandfather, Jules Crepeau, the Director of City Services, saying my grandfather's office looked the other way with respect to infractions against movie houses.
He went out of his way to get my grandfather, offering his testimony unsolicited by attorneys.
My grandfather fired Trudeau right then and there.
Trudeau appeared to be a corrupt cop: he had given his Chief of Police numerous 'loans' over the years. The organized crime king pins of the day appeared to use lowly officers to pass on their bribes. One of these men, Tony Frank, had been executed for an infamous bank heist in 1925.
I've long understood that there were 'mysterious men' who sent the children back upstairs at the start of the Laurier Palace Fire. This 16 year old boy explains.
He was in the upper balcony with 2 girlfriends. He smelled smoke and raced down the stairs, only to be stopped by a man blocking the exit doors. He said he broke the glass and kicked the man, but then realized his girlfriends weren't with him and he went back up
By this time there were kids blocking the stairs, but he was able to climb over the pile.
When he got back up to the balcony, he could still see clearly (and this despite the fact there were no emergency lights.)
Early on in his testimony, he says he saw flames the second time, but later on it isn't mentioned
He could not remember one thing about the dress of the man who wouldn't let him through the first time he descended. Apparently, the man said, "Go back upstairs. There's no fire there."
But that's where the fire (or smoke) was, in the balcony, under the floorboards. (The young witness does not remember seeing anyone smoking or playing with matches.)
Was this a misguided employee who blocked the door? The attorneys try to find out asking, "Was he wearing a coat, a hat, a vest? "
Apparently, the man could see the crush of children on the steps, but did nothing.
The boy testified that the balcony was filled that day with many standing for that 1 pm matinee. He said there were about 30 adults there.
No adults were killed in the fire and no adults admitted to being there in the balcony that day.
The boy's two girlfriends died in the fire. He found one, but her legs were stuck, somehow.
According to the Coroner only one child died of burns (two days later.) Twenty five children died from asphyxiation due to having their lungs crushed and 52 died of asphyxiation by smoke.
Now, I have to re-read the testimony. It appears an attorney was trying to get at something, but the question was over-ruled.