Tag Archives: funeral trains

The Funeral Train That Went Through Carleton Place — Our Haunted Heritage


Photo from the collection of Colin J. Churcher, National Archives of Canada PA-207507.


This is the train which conveyed the casket containing the remains of Sir John A. Macdonald from Ottawa to Kingston, Ontario, on June 6, 1891. It is standing in the Canadian Pacific Queen Street or Broad Street station, originally opened by the Canada Central Railway on September 15, 1870, and which was subsequently destroyed in the great Ottawa-Hull fire of April 26, 1900.

The locomotive, #283, was a 4-4-0 built by Hinckley in August 1883. It was subsequently wrecked in a collision with #354 at Stittsville, Ontario, in October 1897. On this auspicious occasion Jack Hollyoak was the engineer and Harry Fraser the fireman.


That day all engines on Canadian Pacific were decorated with black crepe. The casket was conveyed in an express car which was completely covered with black crepe, both inside and out.  Stops were made at Carleton Place and Smiths Falls on the way to Kingston where crowds of our townsfolk pressed around the funeral car that was draped in purple and black. A floral offering was offered at Smiths Falls by a contingent of local Liberals and Conservatives. The train stations all through Canada, including Carleton Place, had black mourning displays for one week.

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Funeral train leaving Buffalo- Mourning President William McKinley 1901

So why did they have funeral trains? A funeral train is a train specially chartered in order to carry a coffin or coffins to a place of interment. Funeral trains today are often reserved for leaders and national heroes, as part of a state funeral, but in the past were sometimes the chief means of transporting coffins and mourners to graveyards. Funeral trains remain mostly steam locomotive hauled, due to the more romantic image of the steam train against more modern diesel or electric locomotives.



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