For me this is one of those images that help give a small glimpse into the past such that I can just about see this event in my mind's eye. The photo seems to have been taken from Neponset Street loking towards Washington Street - towards where the small convenience store is located (7-11). If you look closely the horses are pulling a hook & ladder and the fireman are marching in the rear in sparkling white uniforms. Note how closely the small buildings are next to Neponset Street and in the background you can see the building (17 Neponset Street) that now houses Harold Drake's Law Offices; with the lovely mansard roof. The first house is where Jack Spierdowis has his home and locksmith enterprise.
This is the kind of photo that makes fire buffs so very happy. To see the well ordered parade marching on a beautiful day, and the small children at the curb. What a sight in Canton's History. It turns out that the Hook & Ladder was purchased from L. M. Rumsey & Co. in 1885 and cost about $500 - at least this information comes to us from the February 27th 1886 Town of Canton Annual Report. L. M. Rumsey manufacturing specialized in fire apparatus, brass bells and hardware. They were located in St. Louis, Missouri and Seneca Falls, New York.
1885 was the year that newly professional fire department also purchased a new pumper as well. In fact, the department was so proud that they spent $125.00 for "Commemoration Day" to celebrate the organization and the pride of Canton. Local historian, Jim Roach has deduced that it may have been the August 7, 1885 "Observance Day". According to the Canton Journal the parade was to Assembe at Church Street.
The early years of the Canton Fire Department were full of frustration as the vote to "profesionalize" the department underwent considerable scrutiny. Allegations of deliberate arson on the Sherman Firehouse and unruly behavior were part of this shaky start. By 1884 the newly formed department was making plans for brick firehouse which would be built in Canton Center (where Walgreens now stands) and the purchase of several new pieces of equipment, including Hook & Ladder No. 1.
Hook & Ladder No. 1 was motorized around 1915 with the addition of a Kissel Car Roadster as an engine. Look closely and you will see the fire helmets in a basket atop the rig. The gear baskets on the truck were a fixture on fire trucks as late as 1943 and 1944 which allowed the fireman to quickly get to a fire with their safety gear already on the truck.
Folks like our former Chief Fitzpatrick and so many others will have more information on this photo, so watch for updates. In the meantime, when you drive up Neponset Street towards Washington Street take a moment to consider this photograph and see if indeed your minds eye can place this event.