Turtle Mountain Disaster — Mathie Family Carleton Place

Turtle Mountain Disaster — Mathie Family Carleton Place

Did you know this?

The Frank Slide was a massive rock slide that buried part of the mining town of Frank, North-West Territories, Canada, at 4:10 a.m. on April 29, 1903. Around 110 million tonnes of limestone rock slid down Turtle Mountain. The primary cause of the Frank Slide was the unstable geological structure of Turtle Mountain. Turtle Mountain was a mountain ready to fall. It was just a matter of time. Immediately following the slide, coal mining, which had begun in 1900, was blamed for the disaster.

May 8 1903- Almonte Gazette

Mr. and Mrs. Mathie of Carleton Place had no less than fifteen relatives affected by the Frank disaster, eight of these, being killed and seven injured. The killed are as follows : William Warrington, a cousin of Mrs.Mathie, and his wife and six children. Everyone was swept away. Not even the baby is left to tell the tale. 

This family spent two days in Carleton Place last year. The injured are as follows : Jas-. Warrington, a brother of Mrs. Mathie, had a thigh broken. He spent all the last winter in transition, and had only resumed work in the mountains a few weeks ago. Samuel Ennis (marked as Sennis on the liste below), a brother-in-law of Mrs. Mathie, with his wife and four children, were all sleeping when the downpour of rock occurred. His house was the second in the row of cottages. It was overturned three times in the descent. When it finally stopped Samuel discovered to his amazement that he had passed through the stone-crusher only slightly injured. He had his faculties and his limbs quickly in working order. He found to his infinite joy that his family, while all were hurled and-were not seriously hurt, and be helped them, one by one, out of their stone-bound prison. This was the only house in the avalanche whose occupants escaped death.  May 8 1903


As before mentioned by your correspondent, the disaster happened at 4:10 a.m., when the sleeping inhabitants of Frank were suddenly awakened by a tremendous crash, followed by a shaking of the buildings. It was still dark, and for a time the greatest confusion prevailed, no one knowing just what had happened. But as soon as day dawned it was seen that the whole side of Turtle Mountain had fallen away, and that the valley for a distance of two miles was entirely choked by rocks and debris piled to an average height of sixty feet.

Where once existed cosy homes, fertile farms and stock ranches, there Is now nothing but huge chaotic plies of debris from the mountain, this debris bearing the appearance of a volcanic eruption. The land, which was once of great value, and was rapidly increasing in price on account of the known presence of natural gas as well as coal deposits, is now buried many feet deep with waste matter, and will be valueless for all time to come.

As there is no geological expert resident in the unfortunate town it is Impossible to ascertain exactly the true character of the force exerted, but Judging from the reports now being brought In by men who have – been working around the outskirts of the waste of rock and debris, many are now inclined to the belief that it was a huge mountain rock slide caused by an earthquake or some subterranean explosion of gas, which has been proved by mining operators to exist in large reservoirs beneath this section of the country.

The nature of the rock of which Turtle Mountain is composed is largely of the limestone variety. Another theory advanced by many of the mining men of the town is that the limestone cliff had been undermined by some subterranean branch of the Old Man River, which has been silently working away unseen for ages past. Others again incline to the belief that it was simply a huge limestone upheaval, the primary causes of which were the slacking of the lime under the Influence of the thawing weather of spring. None of the theories have so far been definitely borne out, although the general opinion now seems to prevail that the trouble was not volcanic, as at first reported.

Related reading

30th Anniversary Carleton Place Disaster– The Ottawa Citizen June 1 1940

The Titanic Disaster according to the Almonte Gazette

Did You Know About the Crotch Lake Disaster?

The Titanic of a Railway Disaster — Dr. Allan McLellan of Carleton Place

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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