Tag Archives: almonte train wreck

The Almonte Wreck Poem George Millar Dec 29 1942

The Almonte Wreck Poem George Millar Dec 29 1942

Looking for information about George Millar.. most likely from Almonte as thanks to Jim Houston I have a copy of a poem he typed in 1942 about the Almonte train wreck.

Almonte Wreck by George F. Millar Dec, 27, 1942

This is an original copy given to me from Jim Houston

I was feeling pretty low that night, and sort of on the shelf

For I was looking forward to getting back myself

When the telephone rang, and there was Tom, I could hardly believe my ears,

A terrible wreck, just happened now, the worst in years and years

The Sunday local on the CPR to Ottawa was starting back,

The night was dark, a dirty sleet was filling up the track,

Witch coaches full,packed in the aisle, of folk from far and near

Returning again to their varied jobs, to commence a brand new year.

From Petawawa down they took on load, as each station drew nigh

The platforms again were thronged with folk and baggage piled up high.

But little was thought amid the last farewells while some a tear would hide.

That the Angel of Death was lurking near, this is their long last ride

The train pulled into Almonte, oh how we know that town.

Sure we played Lacrosse and Hockey, the Valley up and down

But now we have a different scene, a headlight glares in the night

A troop train that had just caught up to a passenger train that was running slow,

A bang, a rip, a bang, a smash, how far will that ting go?

Oh duck, get down. Oh God what’s up, she yelled and grabbed a hand.

And in the seat behind, she saw a big black monster stand.

The engine plowed through coaches two, and stood now in the third from rear.

The coaches smashed to kindling wood, and a mass of twisted gear.

Some thrown beyond the mass of wreck, others mangled in the gear.

And then the ones all shaken up, kept searching in the debris near.

A dress, a doll, a compact small, a bra and undies too.

A coat that had a sleeve torn off, a leg in a bloody shoe.

The Almonte folk now joined the scene, their doors they opened wide,

A steady stream of wounded moved, from the wreck to the warmth inside.

A call for doctors, nurses too, went out on S.O.S.

But speed and all, to answer the call, saved neither Jean or Bess

Pillows, blankets, sheets and towels in haste pulled from the bed,

With never a thought a thought of their return, let’s cover up these dead,

And while we can, bring comfort to the wounded and the maimed

There was the spirit of Almonte to us their deeds are famed,

Before the doctor was in sight right on that very train,

There was a nursing sister brave, who kept so cool and sane.

To give first aid she had no kit, but her clothing she simply tore,

And used the strips for bandages, and saved so many more.

The Town Hall soon became a morgue, the Hospital over-flowed

And more and more picked from the wreck to be bandaged and some sewed

The night wore on, and it got late, for workers no relief,

And then the train for Ottawa bent, with its load of pain and grief,

Our hearts go out to all the folk whose homes are hit so hard,

We’re trying now to ease the load, by word, or deed, or card,

And there was he of the other train, who went through a little hell,

A few more runs and he’s be through, with a record clear as a bell,

And here he was, no fault his own, just seemed to be his rate,

For fortune deals some awful hands, that local just had to be late.

He thought so much of what others might think, and all that be said.

Our hearts go out to this poor guy, in this hour of grief,

But God above is God of Love, and HE will hold no brief,

But instead He’d say, you’ve naught to pay, your load was too much to bear,

It’s me in your need, yes tis indeed, for such is the Kingdom I bear.

Pte. F.R. Whitta gave up his shirt and tunic to make bandages and tourniquets, then aided doctors in surgery for hours in the falling snow. He and another soldier, Sgt. J.W. Gillespie, were awarded the British Empire Medal for their actions that night, while Lt. Nursing Sister Anne Thorpe received the Royal Red Cross, Second Class.


Fred Gauthier Survivor — 6 Months 1 Day –1942 Almonte Train Wreck – Vern Barr

  1. Cpl. James H. Clifford and Miss Marion  McMillan-Survivors of the Almonte Train Wreck
  2. Linda’s Dreadful Dark Tales – When Irish Eyes Aren’t Smiling — Our Haunted Heritage
  3. Survivor still affected by 1942 Almonte train wreck
  4. 55 years ago–One of the Most Tragic Accidents in the History of Almonte
  5. Did You Know About These Local Train Wrecks?

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

Miraculous Escapes– Almonte Train Wreck

Miraculous Escapes– Almonte Train Wreck




On their way to Ottawa to report to new jobs this morning two girls, Rita Burns, of Renfrew and Rhoda Scobbie, of Calgary, had a miraculous escape from serious injury or death when the C.P.R. troop train from Petawawa crashed  into the rear of the Pembroke- Ottawa local on which they were passengers. The two girls were riding in the end passenger coach which received the full brunt of the crash.

Sitting side by- by- side when the troop train scoped their car, they were thrown into the air and  alighted uninjured on opposite sides of the car. Both of the girls were pulled  quickly from the wreckage. Miss Burns was one of the few who was lucky enough to find her personal belongings quickly. December 28,1942

Journal Employee Mrs. Stuart Mason, 128 Pretoria, employed with The Ottawa Journal, boarded the train at Renfrew and got a seat in the fourth last coach of the train. “We got quite a jolt but no one was seriously injured in our car”. As soon as the crash came, Mrs. Mason explained that an R.C.A J officer requested everyone in the coach to remain seated. There was no panic, and the men and trained nurses quickly left to assist In caring for the wounded. 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.