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

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

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