DONATIONS COLLECTED WILL BE DONATED DIRECTLY TO THE SOUTH EAST WHITESHELL VOLUNTEER FIRE DEPARTMENT.
For some of you this will come as a shock, but on March 26 the Christie Family home caught on fire and burnt to the ground. Everyone and their dogs are safe and sound, but devastated at the loss of this gathering space.
Nothing tangible was saved. The photo albums, mementos, antique family heirlooms that go back many generations all gone. Nothing.
But, as hard as this is to swallow we know the memories are not lost.
We are raising money for the South East Fire Department in memory of this beautiful home. Our local fire department is 100% volunteer based and is a huge asset to our community. They were an incredible force against the terrible blaze that took our home. The department also lost some of their own equipment to the fire including hoses as well as sustaining damage to their fire truck.
Barb and Craig are doing okay, they have a strong family and community to catch them. We are also asking for folks to send memories, stories and photos from their tome spent at the “big house” over the years, as we will be compiling them into a nice book to remember. Any old photos (from before the digital age) of our family are also appreciated as all our photo albums were lost in the blaze. All this can be emailed to Emily at [email redacted]
-Emily, Caleigh and Brooke
THE STORY OF THE FIRE
For Barb and Craig, the day started much like any other day at the Christie house. Morning coffee in bed followed by a second cup to watch the birds come into the feeders. Just before 11am Craig started to make his way down to the wood-shop to get started on a project. He noticed a burning smell that was not the usual woodsmoke aroma he was used to smelling drift around his property. He looked up to his family home to see smoke and flames licking the ridge line of his roof.
A spark from the chimney, the same chimney that had warmed their home for 36 years, had landed in the wrong way on their cedar shingled roof. The wind came from the wrong direction to encourage that spark to ignite into something bigger.
Craig blazed up the hill to alert Barb who jumped on the call to 911 (10:57). At 11:04 a text was sent to their children that said "Our house is on fire. The cedar shake roof is burning. Come help". By 11:14 the first fire truck from the volunteer fire department was zooming past the bunk house.
Barb and Craig scrambled to decide what was worth saving, trip after trip in and out of the house resulted in a pile of belongings left 40' away from the house. Chairs from the Red River Settlement, built in 1870 with square head nails, a gun cabinet full of rifles from the many years of duck hunting with family and friends, original charcoal etched portraits of ancestor Alexander Ross, the first postmaster of Rupert's Land, an indigenous headress that was gifted to Craig's Grandfather from a local chief when he opened up Highway 44 as Minister of Public Works at the time. When Barb started to see the flames peeping through cracks in the ceiling boards she knew that this would be her last trip out and grabbed her e-bike as she went.
Over the course of the next hour, what felt like the entire South Whiteshell Community descended upon the property, desperate to help. The local volunteer fire department of about 25 fire fighters scrambled to find a source for water to feed their pumper trucks. The dry spring meant no water in the ditches and ice still covered the lakes. Family members scoured downwind of the fire with wet wool blankets to stamp out any falling embers and protect the forest. Jesse Lord was on site with back-hoe digging for water in the ditches. Kevin Zimmerman and Scott Day arrived with septic trucks full of water from the town supply. But it was all sadly a little too late. By the time Caleigh and Ryan arrived from the other side of the lake (11:25) the house was engulfed in flames and they were helpless to do anything about it. By noon the house was levelled. The pile of belongings that Craig and Barb had so desperately tried to save was obliterated. Except for the e-bike, we did save that.
It's amazing the impact that one tiny spark can have on a community. I say community because there was more than one family that called this place home. Whether it was as kids on a sleepover with Emily, Caleigh or Brooke, or one of the infamous 20 person ski hill staff dinners, or perhaps to watch a house concert or celebrate a sunny Easter gathering. Many felt the kind of welcome in this home that changes you forever. The loss hurts for us all. But the impact that The Christie House and its happenings had on so many lives will far outlive the impact of that teeny tiny STUPID spark.
DonationsSee top donations
- Patty and Doug Christie Christie
- Lee and Wayne Anderson
- Joe Wasylycia-Leis & James Janzen Joe Wasylycia-Leis & James Janzen
- Anne and Scott Oake