On this day: the Great Fire of Saint John


Damage on the dockside. X

The Great Fire of Saint John occurred in New Brunswick, Canada on the 20th of June, 1877.

It was after two in the afternoon when a spark fell onto hay in a storehouse, sparking a fire that burnt for nine hours. At least nineteen people were killed and many more were injured.



1612 structures were destroyed, including fourteen hotels, eight churches, six banks, and a number of boats. The heat of the flames was so great that some buildings were said to have burst into flames before the fire reached them.

Cities all over the world donated money to the rebuilding effort, including Chicago, a city that had suffered a massive fire less than six years before.

On this day…

On the 14th of April, 1877 Leslie’s monthly magazine announced the March 23 execution of John D. Lee, who took part in the Mountain Meadows massacre in 1857.

The massacre involved the Mormon Utah Territorial Militia, accompanied by some Paiute Native Americans, killing between 100 and 140 members of an emigrant party in Utah.



On this day…

John D. Lee sits beside his coffin in Utah moments before his execution by firing squad on the 23rd of March, 1877.

He was the only person who was ever punished for playing a part in the 1857 Mountain Meadows massacre, when a Mormon militia killed over a hundred non-Mormon settlers over a number of days in September.


On this day: the founding of a university

The University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada received its charter on the 28th of February, 1877.

The university was officially opened on the 20th of June the same year, and awarded its first degrees in 1880.



On this day: the publication of Black Beauty


1877 first edition cover. X

Black Beauty, a novel by English author Anna Sewell, was first published on the 24th of November, 1877.

Considered to be a story about animal rights, the book is about the life of a horse, told in autobiographical form.


Sewell had been barely able to walk since she was fourteen, when injuries to both her ankles were incorrectly treated, and she was an invalid when the book was written and published.

While she lived to see Black Beauty’s initial success, she died of an illness only five months afterwards.

On this day: Isadora Duncan was born in 1877

Isadora Duncan

Isadora Duncan in 1899

American dancer Isadora Duncan was born on the 27th of May, 1877.

As a former dancer, I grew up being taught to admire her. However, I strongly disagree with quite a lot about her, including her pro-Communist, pro-Soviet views. These views led to her exile from the United States.

Duncan revolutionised dance, creating contemporary styles before her time, dancing barefoot and showing a preference for performing in flowing fabrics. She had a preference for scarves.


In the early 20th century.

This love of scarves was to be her downfall; in September, 1927 – at age fifty – her scarf became entangled in the automobile she was travelling in, breaking her neck and causing her death.

Travelling photographer in London

Here’s a picture of an itinerant photographer on Clapham Common in 1877. Clapham Common, in south London, was converted to parkland as ordered in the Metropolitan Commons Act of 1878. Before that it was common ground for the parishes of  Battersea and Clapham.

I can’t remember ever visiting this big patch of greenery! Anyone who has ever lived in London has ‘their London’, the areas they know and consider the quintessential parts of the city. I’m not very familiar with the spots south of the river, as my time in the city was mostly around a few areas: The City and Holborn and also the Notting Hill sort of area, northwest of Hyde Park.

Itinerant photographer on Clapham Common, 1877.