The Fred Calder “Fire Buff of The Year” Award

The late J. Frederic (Fred) Calder, who proudly hailed from Glace Bay Nova Scotia, always had an abiding interest in, and love for, the fire service.  As a result, it was no surprise when in 1963 Fred became a professional firefighter and joined the Toronto Fire Department.  He carried Badge No. 641.

Fred, who last drove Pumper No. 34 out of the north end Yonge Street Station, came from a real family of firefighters.  It all began in 1907 when James A. Calder (Fred’s grandfather) was elected a member of the Glace Bay Fire Department.  As he held a ‘Steam Engineer’s Certificate’, he was named an engineer on the “John Leaman”, a 1904 Waterous steam fire engine named after the department’s first Chief.  In 1918, when Glace Bay acquired its first piece of motorized apparatus, a 1917 LaFrance Type 75 Triple Combination, James was appointed operator and caretaker and became Glace Bay’s first full time member.  His son, Fred W. Calder, joined the department as a spare driver in 1927 and in 1938 became assistant operator and the department’s second paid man.  James A. was promoted to Captain in 1933, a rank he held until his death in 1956.  At that time, Fred W. was appointed Captain and chief operator and caretaker and retired in 1975.

Fred’s career with the Toronto Fire Department was like most others and he moved from station to station as he gained experience and qualified to drive the various apparatus.  He never considered ‘going into work’ to be a chore and always looked forward to being with his ‘second family’.  He was a real people person and especially enjoyed whenever young people visited his hall.  He would spend hours on the apparatus floor answering their questions….and often a bit more.

Fred also built and collected fire apparatus miniatures and models in his spare time.  When he died in 1991 at the age of 52, his basement was full of un-built kits waiting their turn at the hands of a caring and methodical craftsman.

The Toronto Fire Department lost a most dedicated fire fighter.  The OFBA lost a very special friend, a former Executive Officer and active member.  A tradition of over 109 years of active firefighting in the Calder family has also come to an end.

Fred Calder’s contribution to fire buffing, to the preservation of ex-T.F.D High Pressure Number 2 and other apparatus and other firematic items will long be remembered and appreciated.  His skill as a model builder was, and is, legendary.

As a means of perpetuating Fred’s memory and measuring his achievements, the O.F.B.A. in 1992 established the “Fred Calder Fire Buff of the Year Award”.

The Award, when presented, is to recognize an individual fire buff or buffs, who have made a significant contribution towards furthering either the cause of Fire Buffing or promoting the general welfare of the Fire Service.  Recipients of the Award likely have an active interest in a host of activities designed to aid or promote either Fire Buffing or the Fire Service.  These interests could include furnishing a canteen service for a local fire department, or recording the past by preserving pieces of antique fire apparatus and other firematic memorabilia or by publishing photographic histories of fire departments and fire apparatus.


Bob Dubbert & Shane MacKichan
Fred Gaines
Walt McCall
Jerry Campbell