Firefighters attend to the scene at Chantecler restaurant in Toronto’s Parkdale neighbourhood, next to St. Francis Table. Photo by Br. John Frampton

St. Francis Table escapes fire that engulfed Parkdale restaurant

  • November 19, 2019

St. Francis Table in Toronto’s Parkdale neighbourhood is shutting its doors for a few days following a three-alarm blaze that engulfed its neighbour early in the morning Nov. 19.

There was a minimal amount of water damage to St. Francis Table from fire crews responding to the fire that broke out in the building next door housing the Chantecler restaurant and apartments above it around 5 a.m. Officials aren’t certain where the fire originated but it made its way up through all three floors, though firefighters kept the flames from spreading to neighbouring buildings. All told, about 15 trucks responded to the fire. Investigators are trying to determine how the blaze began.

“We only have a couple puddles of water in the basement and we have a couple of windows and doors that need work now because the firefighters had to get in to get us out,” said Br. John Frampton, who along with five others lives above St. Francis Table.

For more than 30 years St. Francis Table has been serving meals to its patrons, many of whom are post-psychiatric patients struggling with poverty who spend most of their meagre income on accommodation. Run by the Capuchin Franciscans, St. Francis Table survives strictly on donations and the $1 a meal it charges its patrons.

Frampton said he was awakened at 5 a.m. by the sound of what he thought was hammers at work, and thought it was the renovators who are working on the premises getting an early start. He then heard heavy boots coming up the stairs that turned out to be firefighters looking to clear the premises.

“They opened my room door, let some light in and they said there’s a fire next door, sorry, you gotta get out,” Frampton told The Register. “So all six of us got out safely.”

None of the six reported any injuries, said Frampton.

They didn’t get their cat out, but when they were able to return to the building, “the cat was waiting for us,” said Frampton.

There were no reported injuries from the restaurant blaze either. Frampton said there is one tenant living above the restaurant, “but they’re in and out all the time…. so anyway, nobody hurt they say.” A TTC bus was brought to the scene to provide shelter for those displaced by the fire.

St. Francis table reopened on Nov. 21.

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