55 years ago–One of the Most Tragic Accidents in the History of Almonte




Sometimes we bypass those that have passed as the memories are too heart breaking. But, I feel it it important to remember those that left us too soon. Let us remember the McPhail family today.


May 16, 1961
Ontario, Canada

Three Ramsay People Die In Level Crossing Accident As Freight Train Strikes TruckOne of the most tragic level crossing accidents in the history of Almonte occurred about seven o’clock, Tuesday evening, when three people lost their lives as a west bound freight train plowed into the half-ton truck in which they were riding, at a point on the 10th line of Ramsay, some three miles from this town.Dead are Robert Timmins McPhail in his 62nd year; his son, Kenneth Oswald McPhail in his 28th year, and the latter’s wife, Georgette Alaine (Ottney) McPhail in her 28th year. The accident happened when the trio were returning to their farm home, and were passing over a crossing in the lane leading to the McPhail residence. It had been necessary for the truck to pass over a public crossing on the 10th line of Ramsay only a few hundred yards from the point where, they turned into their private roadway.Kenneth McPhail was an employee, of Simpson-Sears in Ottawa and commuted back and forth to work each day; his wife, the former Georgette Ottney was employed in the law office of Mr. C. J. Newton. Robert McPhail, a well known farmer, had come to town to drive them home for their evening meal. He picked up his daughter-in-law first and then proceeded to the corner of Ottawa and Martin Streets where his son was waiting for him. They drove, out Martin Street to the point where it reaches the town boundary and becomes the 10th line.Mr. McPhail was driving a new truck and as there was a high wind at that time, it is conjectured that the windows might have been closed. It is said he was slightly hard of hearing but it is difficult to figure why the young people, did not hear or see the approaching train because the crew said that the engineer blew loud blasts on his whistle, when he saw the truck was not going to stop. There is a good view of the track in both directions at this crossing.The freight train, pulled by two locomotives was a long one and while it had passed through Almonte only a few minutes before, it gained speed rapidly and was travelling at a fast rate when the accident occurred. It is said that the truck was carried on the front of the engine for a considerable distance before the engines and cars could be brought to a standstill. Dr. John King of Almonte was called to the scene as was Dr. A. A. Metcalfe, coroner for Lanark County. Constable Martin Brindle of the OPP, Perth, is investigating.

Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth McPhail left five young children, Kenneth aged 11, Ross 10, Harold 8, Frank 7 and Shelley 5.

Related Reading-

Linda’s Dreadful Dark Tales – When Irish Eyes Aren’t Smiling — Our Haunted Heritage

Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in Hometown News and now in The Townships Sun

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in Hometown News

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.

4 responses »

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s