Macdonald’s visit came on the heels of a spectacular Vancouver fire – in June 1886 the newly-incorporated city burned to the ground in less than 45 minutes.
Vancouver’s first mayor, real estate dealer Malcolm A. MacLean, sent a plea to Prime Minister Macdonald via telegram: “Our city is in ashes….three thousand homeless…can you send us any government aid?”
Countless people died. All were vaporized in the inferno so there were no remains to return to families. And because Vancouver had no formal way of accounting for the population, it was impossible to come up with an accurate body count.
Prizes included cash awards from $5 - $40. The Greasy Pole Contest was a popular event as it offered big prizes to the winners – a leg of mutton and a pig.