Was John C. Howard Guilty? 76 Years Ago in Almonte

Was John C. Howard Guilty? 76 Years Ago in Almonte

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In early January of  1943 John C. Howard, 64, of Smiths Falls, conductor of the troop train which plowed into the rear of a C.P.R. local-at Almonte on December 27, killing 36 persons and injuring 150 others, committed suicide. His body was found in the Rideau River and left a note that he took his own life because of the wreck.

The note read in part:

“I am sorry I have to do this but I don’t want to go to jail. I. hope you (his son)  forgive me for this”.

In the note Howard also said he was being blamed for the wreck which “brought sorrow to so many people” and’ that he could not stand it any longer. Chief Lees quoted that the wreck was not Howard’s fault, but that many people thought it was and “would go on thinking it’.

The note from the conductor was found by a son, Delmar, of Detroit, on his arrival at the family home at 34 Glen avenue, Smiths Falls. Howard lived with his wife, who was an invalid in Smiths Falls. Their daughter, Ella, of Detroit had been home for New Year’s and returned to Detroit a few days ago. The son, Delmar, decided to go to Smiths Falls after the daughter returned to Detroit.

John Howard was to have been one of the principal witnesses at the public inquest into the train disaster which was to be in the Almonte Town Hall the next day at 2:30. 

So was he guilty?

As a late-arriving Sunday night local train sat at the station in Almonte, Ont., a troop train from Red Deer, Alta., carrying soldiers bound for Britain, crashed into the rear cars, which were made of wood, killing 39 people and injuring more than 200. As a result of the crash, the Board of Transport recommended that a protection signal west of Almonte be erected.



Did you know the manager of the O’Brien Theatre did not want anything to do with the accident so the police had to go and take the doors off to bring the bodies in.

The Town Hall, designed for legislative purposes, was pot big enough to be a morgue for such a major catastrophe.- The dead and injured overflowed- into the Almonte Hotel, O’Brien Theatre, and Almonte House, an apartment building, all within a stone’s throw of the scene

  1. relatedreading

    Miraculous Escapes– Almonte Train Wreck

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

  3. 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?

Names Names and More Names of Almonte Train Accident plus McDowall Family 1917

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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