The Railroad Thanks You For Giving Up Your Life for “Safety’s Sake”


Sometimes I shake my head at the loss of local life given up courtesy of the C.P. R. or C. N. R railroad– especially exiting moving trains before they reached Carleton Place. Was there not some safety program awareness available to the local populations of Canadian towns? There wasn’t a day that did not go by that someone didn’t lose a leg, arm, or life somewhere– all in the name of the railroad. Even the cows marched weekly across the Carleton Place bridge and down Bridge Street to the train station were not exempt from trouble.


August 1909

Mr. P. McDermott, age 29, the only son of Richard J. McDermott of the 11th line of Beckwith died on August 7th at Warman Junction in Saskatchewan on duty in the C.N. R. yards. The local police reported that the young lad had only been employed by them for three years as a trainman. He was described as a splendid young man and transferred to Winnipeg from Carleton Place. McDermott was a first class trainman and much esteemed by his associates.


The residents of Carleton Place also mourned his loss as he was the former baggage master at the Carleton Place C. P. R. station. The young man was best known for finding a broken rail just west of Ashton while walking along the C.P.R. track near his home. It was only because of his prompt action that a fast incoming train was stopped in the nick of time. It was McDermott alone that prevented what would have been a disastrous wreck. For that he received an expression of gratitude from the executive of the C.P.R. The remains left Saskatoon and reached Carleton Place on the following Thursday. It was said he was thrown a funeral nothing short of that of a heroe.


The deadliest crossing was on Lanark County Road 17- just north of Hwy. & 7. In 1986 they finally went to the Canadian Transport Commission to get a signal after all those years of accidents. The crossing still had an average of 400 cars a day, yet the trains had been cut down to 2. A signal with a bell and flashing lights in the 80’s cost over $80,000.

Photos from the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum

Police car photo:

1947 Cadillac sedan limo. It was owned by a doctor in Toronto. He gave it to CPR president Buck Crump to be converted to ride on the rails. It was used by managers and such to go around. It has a turntable underneath so that it could be turned around on the track to go back the way it came.

From the Railway Museum of Eastern Ontario

“If you don’t know where you come from, you don’t know who you are!” —The late Edna Gardner Carleton Place

Buy Linda Secaspina’s Books— Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac– Tilting the Kilt-Vintage Whispers of Carleton Place and 4 others on Amazon or Amazon Canada or Wisteria at 62 Bridge Street in Carleton Place

About lindaseccaspina

Linda Knight Seccaspina was born in Cowansville, Quebec about the same time as the wheel was invented and the first time she realized she could tell a tale was when she got caught passing her smutty stories around in Grade 7 at CHS by Mrs. Blinn. When Derek "Wheels" Wheeler from Degrassi Jr. High died in 2010, Linda wrote her own obituary. Some people said she should think about a career in writing obituaries. Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa from 1976-1996. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off she finally found her calling. Is it sex drugs and rock n' roll you might ask? No, it is history. Seeing that her very first boyfriend in Grade 5 (who she won a Twist contest with in the 60s) is the head of the Brome Misissiquoi Historical Society and also specializes in local history back in Quebec, she finds that quite funny. She writes every single day and is also a columnist for Hometown News and Screamin's Mamas. She is a volunteer for the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum, an admin for the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page, and a local guest speaker. She has been now labelled an historian by the locals which in her mind is wrong. You see she will never be like the iconic local Lanark County historian Howard Morton Brown, nor like famed local writer Mary Cook. She proudly calls herself The National Enquirer Historical writer of Lanark County, and that she can live with. Linda has been called the most stubborn woman in Lanark County, and has requested her ashes to be distributed in any Casino parking lot as close to any Wheel of Fortune machine as you can get. But since she wrote her obituary, most people assume she's already dead. Linda has published six books, "Menopausal Woman From the Corn," "Cowansville High Misremembered," "Naked Yoga, Twinkies and Celebrities," "Cancer Calls Collect," "The Tilted Kilt-Vintage Whispers of Carleton Place," and "Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac." All are available at Amazon in paperback and Kindle. Linda's books are for sale on Amazon or at Wisteria · 62 Bridge Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada, and at the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum · 267 Edmund Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada--Appleton Museum-Mississippi Textile Mill and Mill Street Books and Heritage House Museum and The Artists Loft in Smith Falls.

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