Interest in the history of the Dance fire of October, 1938 has been renewed with the looming installation of a memorial plaque scheduled for Friday, Oct. 10 at the original homestead of Frank LaBelle on Highway 613 North.
Local history buffs also are looking forward to the new books that are coming out soon. Neil McQuarrie’s book is nearing completion, and those who have read his other books are assured this one also will be a good read.
No matter how much has been written, each work brings out different aspects and thoughts about this tragic event. A very interesting paper concerning the Dance fire, and forest fires in the border area, can be read at the Fort Frances Museum.
In 2005, Harl Dalstrom and his wife, Kay, both retired professors from the University of Nebraska at Omaha, wrote a paper entitled. “We were not worried at dinner time”: The October, 1938 forest fires and the last frontier in Ontario and Minnesota.
First presented at the Great Plains History Conference in Eau Claire, Wis., their paper was enlarged and copies were presented to the Fort Frances and Koochiching museums.
This 97-page document puts the widespread forest fires of 1938 in the context of “one of North America’s last frontiers of settlement: the Rainy River country and the adjoining territory on both sides of the international boundary.”
About half of the narrative concerns the disastrous Dance fire. This thoroughly-researched paper is worth a trip to the museum to read.
Meanwhile, the La Vallee History Committee awaits the final date of publication of “Further Connections,” which is the continuation of the La Vallee Township history and also contains the history and development of Dance Township.
Many family histories are contained in this book and, of course, the historic Dance fire is included.
Much of the material is from the work of Lillian Kellar, whose valuable writing about Dance and the fire cannot be praised enough.
The committee will announce the date of publication as soon as possible.
People have prepaid for their book to be assured of a copy. Many have reserved a copy and we suggest that you pay for it now.
If you have not bought or reserved a book, remember that only a limited number are being printed.
Copies cost $50 each (add $10 for mailing), with cheques being made payable to the Township of La Vallee.
For more information, contact Freeda Carmody (486-3338), Joyce Witherspoon (486-1153), Maxine Hayes (274-6049), Liz Donaldson (482-3334), or the municipal office in Devlin (486-3452).