St. Mary’s Catholic Cemetery in Morrisburg has long been the final resting place of fallen firefighter George Franklyn Hutt.
In recent years, a local man, and now local firefighters have taken an interest in the upkeep of Frank Hutt’s burial site.
Last week, thanks to financial contributions from South Dundas’ three firefighter associations, work was done to re-set the cast iron corner posts of the distinctive plot.
“I am so pleased the associations stepped up to do this,” said Chris McDonough, fire chief for South Dundas Fire and Emergency Services.
“Cemetery boards have fallen on hard times, so they can’t take on a single grave project like this,” said Rick Roberts who many years ago took an interest in this grave site.
Roberts noticed the site, when visiting the cemetery where he has family.
Roberts says he “adopted” the site and for years has been maintaining by trimming trees and painting the corner posts. He also keeps a flag flying there.
Seeing the work done to reset the posts, he said it is a wonderful thing for the local firefighters to do.
The corner posts were what drew Roberts to the site, and from there curiosity compelled him to learn more about this young man who lost his life in the discharge of duty at the Mount Royal Club Fire, January 5, 1904.
Hutt was born April 8, 1882, in Morrisburg. With his family he moved to Pointe St. Charles, Quebec, as a youngster.
As a single young man, he joined the Montreal Fire Department January 1, 1903.
“Sadly, his career was very short,” said Roberts.
Hutt’s Station Number 1, was the first to get called out on the early morning of January 5, 1904, when a newspaper delivery boy noticed that the Club Mount Royal, a prestigious, private men’s club with many powerful and wealthy members, was on fire.
“You have to remember, this was in the days before there were breathing apparatus,” said Roberts. “In those days, more firefighters were killed by smoke inhalation than anything.”
But this was not the case for Hutt. Roberts learned from his research that Hutt’s captain had ordered Hutt and two other firefighters, James Ruddy and George Reynolds, out of the building for air.
While they were getting air, a large stone cornice fell from the building and hit Frank directly, killing him instantly. The other two were injured.
The club’s secretary Col. Liardet died in the fire and a bookkeeper for the club was badly burned.
Hutt’s body was returned to Morrisburg by train, and the Montreal Fire Department paid for the large headstone that marks his grave.
Roberts continues to care for Hutt’s grave and is pleased that the local firefighter associations have given money to get some needed work done. He looks forward to putting a fresh coat of paint on the straightened corner posts.
“I appreciate all the work our volunteer firefighters do here. I have a real appreciation for the sacrifices of firefighters,” says Roberts.
“I knew all of the guys that were killed in the Iroquois firefighter accident years ago. [The late] Randy Thompson was my best friend.”