Cpl. James H. Clifford and Miss Marion  McMillan-Survivors of the Almonte Train Wreck

Cpl. James H. Clifford and Miss Marion  McMillan-Survivors of the Almonte Train Wreck



Christmas Day in 1942 was a happy day for Cpl. James H. Clifford and Miss Marion  McMillan as they got engaged. The couple were returning from a happy holiday visit to Glasgow Station, near Renfrew.  On December 27, 1942 the engineer of the passenger train that the couple were travelling on was unaware a troop train was was following as he approached Almonte. In twenty minutes several incidents happened: there was no 20 minute spacing behind the passenger train and the weather was bad, holiday traffic was heavy and steam was being difficult to be had for the CPR-550 passenger train. The engineer had no idea a troop train was bearing down. At 8:43 PM one of the worst  train accidents happened and the rest is history.

Corporal James H. Clifford, Clifford and his fiancee, Marion McMillan, both of Westboro received serious injuries in the train wreck that claimed at least 32 lives and  injured more than 200 at Almonte station that Sunday evening.

Cpl. Clifford, the first Canadian to receive his paratroop wings suffered two broken legs when the second coach from the end of the train in which he was riding with Miss McMillan was nearly demolished. Miss McMillan suffered a broken shoulder and superficial injuries in addition to shock.

Cpl. Clifford had turned down a Canadian’ Army commission some months ago, to join the paratroopers and trained at Fort Harrison, Montana. He was injured in a jump and was placed on sick leave. He was now stationed at Lansdowne Park was awaiting orders for new postings. Following the crash, Cpl. Clifford was placed in the C.P.R. hospital hospital train with his fiancee.

An Almonte priest telephoned his brother, George, in Westboro, who drove immediately to the scene. “The wreckage was strewn through the heart of the town”, George Clifford said on his return to Ottawa. “The rear car was utterly demolished and the second one smashed almost almost as bad”. The roof of one of the cars fell, across CP.R. telegraph lines and it was believed communications were disrupted.

“I looked around for my brother and his sweetheart and found them in the hospital car. It wasn’t too hard to get into the car. Everyone was pitching in to help and I grabbed the end of a stretcher and assisted in taking an injured person into the car near the station platform. When I got into the J car I looked around for Jimmy and found both him and Marion. He seemed to be taking it alright in spite of his broken legs. They had placed a tag on him and given him something to ease the pain. Marion had an injured shoulder, I believe it was broken.” 

The train crews and other workers had assisted in swinging the backs of the seats around to fill the gaps between the seats and it made a fairly comfortable surface for the injured. There were about 15 in this particular car and the scene of the train crash was one of horror and confusion.

December 28, 1942


Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun andScreamin’ Mamas (USA)


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

Survivor still affected by 1942 Almonte train wreck

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

Did You Know About These Local Train Wrecks?

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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