Canada, Montreal, Quebec, Blue Bird Café fire 01/09/1972


On September 1st, 1972, patrons of Montreal’s Blue Bird Café and the Wagon Wheel, the country and western bar above the café, were celebrating the end of another summer. In the main entrance to the Wagon Wheel, however, 3 young men, drunk and upset over being refused entry to the bar began a fire on the staircase. With one exit now blocked by fire, victims sought out other means of escape. However, conflicting city regulations had left the Wagon Wheel with too few fire exits. This left only two escape routes, through the kitchen onto a foldaway fire escape, and through the window in the ladies washroom onto a car parked below. Due to these errors in judgement, 37 people were unable to escape the fire and smoke that night. Fire escape regulations have since been standardised to prevent another disaster of this magnitude.

Blue Bird remembered

As her husband John slept upstairs on the evening of Labour Day, 1972, Mary McGimpsey and her daughter played Scrabble in their Ville d’Anjou kitchen. Their other daughter, Kathryne, a 20-year-old Sunday school teacher, office clerk and recent graduate of Dunton High, was at the Wagon Wheel, a downtown country-music club, upstairs from the Blue Bird Café. “My daughter didn’t drink because she was on a diet, she said it was the only place you could get a Coke or something and they wouldn’t laugh.”

40 years later – Montreal commemorates victims of the Blue Bird fire

MONTREAL – One of the youngest victims was a 14-year-old girl who was far from home.

The oldest was a father of four out celebrating his 39th birthday.

In between were 35 others whose lives were cut short by a conspiracy hatched in a drunken haze.

40 years after a horrific arson that killed 37 people, the victims of the Blue Bird fire finally get a memorial

Thirty-seven people died and another 50 were injured in one of the worst disasters in Montreal history

Man behind 1972 Blue Bird Café arson that killed 37 people violated parole

James O’Brien saw his parole suspended in July after he breached a release for the third time over the past decade.

History Through Our Eyes: Sept. 1, 1972, fire at the Blue Bird

On Sept. 1, 1972, a deliberately set fire took 37 lives at the Blue Bird Café and the Wagon Wheel Bar above it.

50 years: Remembering Montreal Blue Bird - Wagon Wheel fire, 37 died

Montreal commemorated the 50th anniversary of what is considered one of the worst fires in Canadian history, with a tribute at Phillips Square on Thursday.

On September 1, 1972, a fire at the Blue Bird – Wagon Wheel, killed 37 people and injured dozens more. It was a popular club on Union street and was packed for Labour Day weekend.

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