One of West Carleton’s most cherished buildings and businesses was lost to fire this morning, Jan. 28.
The Cheshire Cat pub, a former one-room stone schoolhouse, was on fire at 4:30 a.m. Alarms were sounding and smoke was billowing from the roof at the time. Ottawa Fire Services arrived at the site – the corner of Carp and Richardson Side roads - soon after and assumed a “defensive attack” of the building frequented by many locals, former teachers, and a number of Ottawa Senators players.
Tankers were on site since municipal water isn’t available in the rural west area. It is unclear if that hampered the battle, which engulfed the entire building.
By 10 a.m. firefighters in a cherry-picker were pushing over the bell tower, forcing a groan from owner Dustin Therrien on the road below. He and wife Crystal, who live nearby, bought the heritage-designated Cat in 2005. They had done some renovations and finished a major addition last year. It was considered one of Ottawa’s most authentic traditional British pubs.
Therrien declined comment at the time. He was surrounded by a few friends and employees. Crystal, who runs the couple’s new Alice’s Restaurant in the village of Carp, most sat in the backseat of an SUV on Richardson Side Road with others lending support.
About 30 people worked at the Cat, many from the area. There were no injuries in the fire.
The cause has yet to be determined, but restaurants often have pilot burners on all night and the Cat also had a woodstove in the main floor dining room.
Two other nearby buildings on Richardson Side Road have been lost to fire over the last couple of years. An indoor soccer complex and a banquet hall have burned down. The Carp Agricultural Hall office on Carp Road was badly burned one year ago to the day.