Carte de Visite
Henry Edward Baines was born around 1840 possibly at or near Brixton, Surrey. His
father's name seems to have been Henry Egerton Ottey Baines and must have been of
some means since the younger Baines attended the Royal Military College, Woolich
and received his commission as lieutenant in the Royal Artillery on 3 January 1860.
Attached to No. 5 Battery, Royal GarrisonArtillery, Baines deployed to Canada in
December 1861 during the buildup of British forces that occurred before and during the American Civil War when the possibility of armed conflict between Britain and the
United States seemed a decided possibility.
The threat eventually passed and Baines remained in garrison at Quebec until Sunday, 14 October 1866 when a group of carousing drunks started a fire in the early morning which soon became out of control and well beyond the abilities of the local sapeurs to deal with. The fire soon reached such a magnitude that British troops were soon called out to combat the blaze, Companies of the Rifle Brigade, the 25th and 30th Regiments, Royal Artillery, and officers and men of the Royal Navy were soon employed as unlikely firefighters.
Members of the Royal Artillery under the direction of Lieutenant Baines and Lieutenant Bradley were using charges of black powder to demolish rows of houses near the General Hospital Convent in the attempt to create a firebreak when one of these charges exploded prematurely severely burning Lieutenant Baines and Sergeant H. G. Hughes. Both men were taken to the Convent Hospital and placed in the care of the sisters and doctors Adsett, McKinnon, and Anderson. Baines although badly burned and injured seemed to rally and his prognosis was good until a severe tetanus infection set in. Baines's condition worsened and in the early morning hours of 27 October 1866, he died.
Hailed as the hero of the great fire Baines was buried at Mount Hermon Cemetery with full military honours. The service was attended by literal who’s who of Quebec’s military and political society: A firing party of the Royal Artillery, with arms, reversed under command of Lieut. Ormsby, the band of the Prince Consort's Own Rifle Brigade,
the band of the 30th Regiment, the band of the Royal Artillery, Col. McCrae, R.A., and mourners, detachment of the P.C.O. Rifle Brigade, detachment of seamen from H.M.S. Aurora, officers of Royal Artillery, detachment of Royal Engineers, the Royal Artillery commanded by Adjt. Simpson, officers of Levis Volunteer Infantry, officers of 8th and
9th Battalions Volunteer Rifles, officers of Quebec Volunteer Artillery and Cavalry, officers of P.C.O. Rifle Brigade, officers of 30th Regiment, and officers of the Royal Engineers.
A small booklet – In Memoriam – was published in Quebec to honor Lieutenant Baines soon after his death. It contained an account of the Great Fire and Baines's part in the efforts to stop it as well as eulogies from officers and civil authorities. One was a letter from the Mayor of Quebec to Baines mother in Brixton, Surrey:
Madam. - The citizens of Quebec, of all creeds and classes, have deeply deplored the death of your brave son, in consequence of the injuries sustained by him while endeavouring, with equal zeal and courage, to arrest the progress of the terrible calamity with which our city has recently been visited, and they have contributed to raise a suitable monument to his memory, in Mount Hermon Cemetery, where his remains are laid, considering him to have died, not merely in the discharge of duty, but in their service, and in the sacred cause of charity. They are further desirous to employ the enclosed sum in erecting a memorial tablet in your Parish Church or wherever you may wish it to be placed, and they respectfully entreat that this may be done under your direction, and according to your wishes.
It is not for them, nor for me who am charged with this communication, to pretend to offer you consolation under a bereavement by which your whole future life must necessarily be darkened and saddened. We can only commend you to Him who healeth the broken in heart and bindeth up their wounds, and we trust you will receive it as of His good Providence that if your son was early called away, it was by a death as honourable and soldierly as if it had happened on the field of battle, and that in his last moments he received and enjoyed those consolations which, in such circumstances,
the Gospel only can give.
I am, with profound respect and sympathy,
Your faithful Servant,
Mayor of Quebec.
Quebec, 21st December 1866.
Enclosed was a cheque for Sixty Pounds.