The Hughenden Fire of 1932 ~ compiled by Lori Knutson

Following a $50,000 fire which destroyed seven buildings here Sunday, body of E.J. Swenson, for 14 years manager of the Whyte and Orr hardware store was found in the smoking ruins of the store.

Hi there! I compiled these photos, articles, and audio recordings as a member of the Amisk-Hughenden Historical Society. Now all the information we have about the fire and suicide that happened on Sunday morning, May 22nd, 1932, is all in one place.

You can access the complete blog post at

If you know others who are interested in Hughenden history specifically or just history in general, please share this with them. Don’t keep it all to yourself!

This view is looking east from the alley way over the ruins. In the upper left of the photo, you can see the Anglican Church where Mary and her family were headed on that Sunday morning.

It wasn’t until our buggy was clattering down Hughenden’s main street that my brother Jimmy and I, on our way to a Sunday morning confirmation class at the Anglican Church, realized that something was dreadfully wrong.

Mary Burpee, author and witness to the fire’s aftermath when she was 14 years old

After the fire had settled down I saw the body lying on its back and a buckle of a belt on the front of the body (he used to wear a belt) and saw a rifle lying across the body. The exhibit looked like the barrel which was lying across the body. I did not see Swensen around. I saw Mrs. Swensen come down with Mrs. Cookson and she looked as if she was in trouble.

Joe Martineau from his testimony at the inquest into the remains of E.J. Swensen

This household sale ad is from the June 2nd, 1932 issue of The Hughenden Record. Following her husband's death, Adele Swensen sold many of their belongings.

One more thing: if you love history, follow this historical society here on WordPress or via email. You can also find us on Twitter @AmiskSociety.

Sharing our links to Facebook also helps a Lot! Here’s our homepage address:

Thanks for visiting and be sure to drop by again! ~ Lori

By A-H History

Our mission is to create and contribute to projects that preserve the history of the Amisk/Hughenden, Alberta area.

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