The Tragic Tale of Harvey Boal

The Tragic Tale of Harvey Boal


March 1912

Sometimes working for the railroad was not a good thing. The shocking accident that had happened in March of 1912 had greater interest for those who lived in Almonte than those who lived in the Ottawa area. Harvey Boal, son of William Boal (or Boale) ( mother Mary Jane Stanley of Almonte was held responsible for the train accident in Hull. The loss of life and injuries could never be minimized but, had Harvey been habitually careless or inattentive the citizens of Almonte would have understood, but he wasn’t.

In 1915 he had completed a telegraphy course with Mr. W. S. MacDowell and he was noted as being above average in ability. The rapidity in which he achieved promotions from Almonte to the CPR head office and then  sent out west was incredible for someone who was barely 21. He had not been married very long, and did not drink and attended church regularly. He was taking classes so he could rise to a position of  divisional superintendent rather than pound a key.

 - OOOOOO oooooo oooooo ooooo WARRANT ISSUED O O...

Sympathy was expressed for the consequences that this young lad was now going to face after working a 19 hour shift. Fear took over Harvey Boal and instead of waiting to be questioned, he ran way and a warrant was issued for his arrest. In the end he was not the only guilty one, and operator John Francis Cole was also dismissed for issuing the wrong orders. I tried to find out what happened to poor Harvey Boal but the trail went coal. There was another Havey Boal that died at age 41 in an elevator accident in the 1950s, but it was not the same chap.

Jiana Daren
The elder Harvey Boal was the brother of Stanley Boal who was the father of the younger’s Harvey Boal. The elder Boal died in Vancouver in 1967 :

 - "That the collision was caused through...


Jiana Daren

The elder Harvey Boal was the brother of Stanley Boal who was the father of the younger’s Harvey Boal. The elder Boal died in Vancouver in 1967 :

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From the Chesterville Record –– Colin Churcher’s page

Five killed. Fifteeen Injured.
Work train let go ahead of time and crashed into local passenger train.
Ottawa March 8.  A train was let go this morning five minutes before it should have moved. The result was a splintering of wood, binding of iron and five people gave up their lives amid the cries of fifteen others injured.
The accident occurred on the Pontiac branch of the Canadian Pacific Railway within three miles of the Parliament buildings.
The Dead.
John Moyles, Undertaker, Quyon.
John Anderson, CPR Conductor, Ottawa.
John Darby, Duke Street, Hull.
Miss Kehoe, Quyon.
E.J. Taber, Contractor, Hull.
Details of injured not taken except Fred Cole, Engineer.
The morning train from Waltham, a little late, had reversed as usual on the Y near Hull, and was backing to reach the Union Station in Ottawa.  This is the way in which it enters the station each day.  A work train was being held at Hull until the passenger train had safely passed. In some incomprehensible way the work train was let go. At Tetraultville it met with a crash the rear of the backing passenger train.
The trains were moving in opposite directions at a fair speed.  The locomotive of the work train came into contact with the first class car.  It was new of strong construction and resisted the shock. The second class car just beyond it was not so strongly built and collapsed like a berry box between the squeeze of the two locomotives.  It was the weak spot and gave.
The result was terrible for those within and the car was half full.  Men and women were jammed with smashed seats. broken glass, fractured woodwork and twisted steel in a mass of dead and injured.  Rescue work was promptly started.  Ottawa was communicated with, doctors and nurses rushed to the spot and the injured quickly conveyed to Ottawa.
The passenger train was in the charge of Conductor John Anderson who was instantly killed apparently from a blow to the head.  The engineer was Joseph Murphy and his fireman Camille Lemieux.
The freight engine was in charge of engineer Cole and William Short, fireman, all of Ottawa.  Anderson was one of the best known conductors on the road.  The accident happened where is a sharp curve and deep cut and it was impossible for the crew of one train to see the other till too late.
Harvey Boal, operator at Hull, whose mistake in issuing an order for a clear track is said to be the direct cause of the disaster, has disappeared and detectives are searching for him.  He is a young man with a good record on the line.
Chesterville Record 3/21/1912  William Kennedy the sixth victim of the railway wreck on the Pontiac line near Hull died at the Water Street hospital at 4 o’clock this morning.
Chesterville Record  3/28/1912  The jury conducting the inquest on the victims of the fatal wreck on the CPR at Hull on March 8, returned a verdict Monday night practically exonerating Harvey Boal, the CPR telegrapher, for whose arrest a warrant has been issued and placing the blame on the CPR.

The official report gave two killed and 15 injured.

This accident was responsible for the installation of the Electric Token Block system between Ottawa West, Hull and Ottawa Union.  The Ottawa Citizen of 24 April 1912 explains:

Since the wreck of the Pontiac train at Hull last month, whereby five(sic) persons were killed and several injured, the C.P.R. has introduced a new block system between Hull and Ottawa which if it is strictly observed, will prevent a recurrence of the accident.
According to the rules of the present system a train cannot leave Hull or Ottawa before the conductor has obtained a staff which is locked and unlocked by an electrical arrangement.  Only by deliberately ignoring the system could another collision of two trains occur between Hull and Ottawa.  The Pontiac train still continues to back in from Hull to Broad Street station, but, by the new arrangement there is little or no danger of an accident.

 - BOAL HAS GOT AWAY TO STATES Drove to Russell...

 - , I He-then LETTER OF BOAL GOT v BY POLICE Hull...

 - ACKNOWLEDGES HIS GUILT. Operator Says He Was...

 - Said Boat Is Arrested. Toronto, March 19. A...



( no date ) In the afternoon and evening of May 21st more than two hundred friends gathered at the home of Mr. and Mrs. R. M. Boal to honor them, on the occasion of their fiftieth wedding anniversary. Messages were received from the Prime Minister of Canada, the Hon. John Diefenbaker, the Premier of Ontario, the Hon. John F. Robarts, Mr. George Doucett, MP for Lanark and Mr. G. Gomme, MPP for Lanark. Mr. Boal the oldest son of Mr. and Mrs. William Boal was born near Pakenham. (Cedar Hill)

When a young man he, went West and homesteaded at Davidson, Sask. After a few years he returned and married Miss Letitia Foster of Ramsay. Their love for Lanark County proved to be strong, for after eight years at Deux Rivieres they returned to reside at Cedar Hill and later in Pakenham. During this time Mr. and Mrs. Boal took an active interest in Community affairs. Mrs. Boal has been a keen worker in her church and in the Women’s Institute. Mr. Boal served as Reeve of Pakenham Township for thirteen years and also as Warden of Lanark County. Among the remembrances received was a table with a vase containing fifty golden roses. The tea table was decorated with yellow roses, yellow tapers and centered with a three-tiered wedding cake. All arrangements for the celebration was by the courtesy of the Cedar Hill and Pakenham Branches of the Women’s Institute.

Another Harvey Boal in Almonte–

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Almonte Man Fatally Crushed by Heavy Door – (1958)–ALMONTE, August 28. – (Special) – Harvey Boal, 41, of Brae street, Almonte, was crushed to death Wednesday when a 6,000-pound door he was helping install in a bank vault, tipped and pinned him by the stomach against a wall. An employee of Howard Davey, local building contractor, Mr. Boal died in Ottawa Civic Hospital two hours, after the accident. Carman Denny and Alex Spinks were on one side of the seven-foot door and Mr. Boal was on the other side when it I slipped off the roller and pinned the victim against the wall. Twenty men were unable to move the door. He was freed half an hour later by jacks obtained at nearby service stations. Mr. Boal was conscious while pinned against the wall. Attended by Dr. 0. Schulte, he was removed to the Rosamond Memorial Hospital by Kerry-Scott Ambulance where he was given first aid and then taken to hospital in Ottawa. OPP Constable Ross McMartin investigated the accident. Born and educated in Ramsay Township, he was a son of Stanley Boal and the late Mabel Miller. He attended Almonte Presbyterian Church. Mr. Boalserved overseas with the Canadian Army during World War II. He was a member of the Almonte Legion. He is survived by his wife, the former Ellen Green whom he married in 1942. Also surviving are a son, Bill, 15; three sisters, Mrs. 0rville Abbott (Luella), of Brockville; Mrs. Clare Syme (Ione), of Ramsay township, and Mrs. Clarence McInerney (Jean) of Minden. Ont. The body is at the Kerry-Scott Funeral Home, Almonte.

ome 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 and The Tales of Almonte

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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