On April 19, 1904, a small but ominous hostile fire started at the Currie Building at Bay and Wellington. The fire went undetected and swept across the city core to the south-east. Out went the call to fire brigades in response to the raging inferno. Many responded, including fire fighters from Hamilton and Buffalo, New York. By 10:30 the following morning, the fire was at last contained but the damage was horrendous. More than eight city blocks were destroyed, 5000 workers lost their jobs and the city suffered property damage in excess of $10 million. The city recovered quickly and continued on with its tremendous economic pace.
One of the many businesses to shine as a silver lining during this tragic time in Toronto’s history was the establishment of an insurance brokerage firm by Mr. Martin Merry. Owing in part to Mr. Merry’s business inclination, sense of empathy and high integrity, the firm flourished. Mr. Merry grew his business to secure established clientele, including household names such as Gooderham and Worts, Christie Bakeries, Kerr Addison Gold Mines and the Toronto Transit Commission.
Soon joined by his son Spencer (Spike) Merry, the firm’s name was altered to Martin Merry & Son. Following World War II in 1949, David Browne’s father, Jack Browne, approached Spike to join the firm as a young professional. Jack’s keen sense for client satisfaction and a spirit to have fun led the firm to new heights. Short of three years, Jack proved himself to be a winning ingredient and the firm expanded. Sadly, in 1953, Mr. Merry became ill and passed away. Jack Browne, assisted by his father in law, Bill Sixt, purchased the brokerage. Bill Sixt’s brother, Herb, continues to be a valuable member of our team.