Fire has always been a concern in Callander, especially in the early days. There is a November 1915 map of Callander produced by the Underwriters Survey Bureau Limited, showing all the buildings in Callander, what they were made of, and any special information for the Volunteer Fire Brigade. At the time, the fire hall was on Catherine Street, just west of the current library.
Callander at the time had a population of 400. The water supply was Lake Nipissing, creeks or artesian wells. The Fire Brigade had a Hand Fire Pump, a Hose Reel and 400 feet of 2 ½ inch hose. The hand fire pump, from 1915, has been displayed at the fire hall since 2006.
Firemen were especially busy in Callander, as there were a lot of fires. The Great Fire of Callander in 1931 was the largest. A bakery is shown on the map on High Street just to the south of the Whispering Pines Funeral Home – it has long since burned.
Apparently the volunteer fire department fell into disarray during World War II, and basically petered out.
After a fire at his sister-in-law’s, for which there was no organized firefighting, Hoyt D. Wice went to the town council to complain and said there should be a revitalized fire department. “Fine”, they said, “You can do it.” He did, and was the fire chief in Callander from 1947 to 1978.
Initially, a portable pump with 300 feet of hose was stored on a trailer in the Township garage. In the early 1950s, they purchased a trailer pump, and in the mid-1950s a surplus air force six-wheel-drive pumper, and in the late 1950s a tanker truck.
In 1957, a fire hall was established here on High Street just to the north of the Cenotaph. The fire hall large doors are still recognizable.
The first new fire engine was obtained in 1965 and is seen below with a proud Hoyt Wice. It cost $18,000 and received 45% federal and provincial funding.
The current main fire hall at 250 Main Street North is named after Hoyt Wice to recognize the work he did to create a fire department, and was established in February 1977.
Dick Kervin was the next fire chief from June 1978 to 1995. He joined the fire department as a volunteer in November 1958, was a Captain in 1969, and became deputy chief in 1976 before taking over as chief. He remembers he was Chief Fire Official as well as By-law Enforcement Officer (i.e., dog catcher), Lottery Licensing Official and Chief Fire Warden. His wife Elaine remembers that he was paid for only one of these positions, not all four.
He was followed by Rob Landry, who was fire chief from April 1st 1995 to April 1st 2005.
Rob Serson was appointed Chief in December 2004 and served until the appointment of the current Chief, Todd Daley in August of 2016.
The Department operates two fire stations, the main station and station two located at 1875 Hwy 654 West (Wasi Road). There is a large collection of photo albums in the fire hall with photos and newspaper articles collected through the years, started by Hoyt Wice and maintained by his successors.