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

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.

4 responses »

  1. Linda – thank you for this beautiful write up. I was young, 13 when the call came to our home, that my sister, georgette and Kenny and Bob were killed. It was horrific to see our parents go through this.

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