On Jan. 18, 1917, the Marmora Herald wrote a two liner regarding the great opportunity of obtaining cheap grain for feed, almost as if embarrassed of the circumstances that lay behind the true story.
"A number of the farmers in the vicinity are taking advantage of the opportunity to get a number of carloads of cheap grain from the Quaker Oats Plant at Peterborough, which was destroyed by fire some time ago. Some of the grain makes excellent feed."
The "fire" referred to was a devastating explosion and the worst in Peterborough's history, only five weeks previous on Dec. 11, 2016.
"A massive explosion and resulting fire levels the Quaker Oats plant in Peterborough, Ontario. In the wake of the disaster, 22 workers are dead—two more would later die as a result of their injuries—with the total damage set at a then unfathomable $2,250,000, not including an estimated $225,000 damage to neighbouring structures. "
According to Gordon Young, who wrote the book, 'A Dark Day In Peterborough: A Time To Remember December 11, 1916, the blaze was "monumental" in the city's history. It put about 500 people out of work who had been busy on three eight-hour shifts daily making food to feed the First World War effort overseas, thanks to a variety of contracts the company held.
The fire is believed to have broken out in Building 11 before spreading to the boiler room, causing an explosion so massive blocks from the structure were thrown across the river. It burned for four days and when it was put out, most of the factory was in ruins.
For an excellent video visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EpfqLqELbnw
PS If you see a resemblance in the architectural styling for these buildings to those of the General Electric Factory , you would be correct. The early 20th century architect for both factory complexes was George Martel Miller, a prolific architectural craftsman. Miller was born in Port Hope in 1855, started working as an architect in 1880 in Toronto, and before he died in 1933 had numerous high profile residential, ecclesiastical, industrial, institutional, and commercial works under his belt, including the Lillian Massey Building, Toronto's Gladstone Hotel, Wycliffe College, and the iconic Massey Music Hall in Toronto. Closer to home, his work including the Hastings County House of Refuge, the Tweed Methodist Church, and some mansions in Belleville.