‘Ottawa’ Capital Facts: Slater Street Explosion Creates Scene of Destruction
n celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday, the Citizen is rolling out one fact each day for 150 days until July 1, highlighting the odd, the fascinating and the important bits of Ottawa history you might not know about.
A gas leak was blamed for the massive Slater Street explosion at 8:17 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 25, 1958. At that moment, janitor William J. Anderson flipped on a light switch in the Addressograph Multigraph building at 248 Slater St., igniting fumes that had built up in the building overnight. The blast shattered glass at businesses along Slater, Kent, Bank and Laurier streets, destroyed a Myers Motors showroom and collapsed a wall at the adjacent Odeon Theatre. An Ottawa Citizen reporter said the scene of destruction looked “just like a bombed-out area in wartime London.” Some 40 people were injured by flying glass, but Anderson was the only casualty, dying several days later in hospital. Had the blast occurred during a busy workday, the toll could have been much higher.
— Blair Crawford