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– By Don Crossley
The Halliday Homes Fire of 1974
I was recently asked if
I remembered Halliday Homes,
a pioneer in the design and
construction of prefab buildings,
and one of Burlington’s major
employers. I do, indeed.
complex was a city landmark dating
back to the 1800s. Mostly, though,
I remember the horrible fire in
1974 that completely destroyed
their plant which, at the time, was
located on Maple Avenue near
On the afternoon of Oct. 24th,
1974, I heard a radio news bulletin
suggesting that the plant was on
fire. I immediately thought of the
firm’s president, G.W.E. (Bud)
Gordon, a friend and mentor to
me who, at the time, was also
serving with me on the Board
of Directors of the Burlington
Chamber of Commerce. In fact,
I had succeeded Bud as president
of that organization.
I immediately drove over to the site of the fire to offer my assistance. I thought that if I could obtain some sort of list of
their most immediate needs from Bud, I could then contact as many chamber members as possible and seek their assistance.
When I finally met up with Bud, his head was in his hands. The Fire Department had just advised him that the plant
would be a total loss. There was so much work to be done, not just in the long term, but in order to prepare for the next
business day. Thankfully, the plant’s employees were all willing and able to return to work, but they needed a place from
which to conduct business.
Bud told me that the very next day was payday for his
staff, which numbered well over one hundred. Somehow,
they had managed to save both the payroll records and
blank cheques, but now they need the loan of a mainframe
computer so the numbers could be crunched, and the
cheques could be printed. This started a series of phone
calls to fellow Chamber members asking for their assistance
in this regard.
After many, many calls we finally reached a firm that
happened to be using the same payroll system as Halliday’s
and would be happy to assist in any way possible. What
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Photo: Warren Corp, Fire Chief