Tag Archives: train wreck

Train Wreck January 21, 1969– Almonte Gazette

Train Wreck January 21, 1969– Almonte Gazette
Almonte Gazette

The remains of five twisted box cars stall lie scattered about at the scene of the spectacular train wreck which occurred at tile half-way crossing between Almonte and Garleton Place on Tuesday. Clean-up crews of the C.P.R. Mechanical Department estimate it will take another week to clear the area of the remaining debris.

They are now in the process of burning out the wooden interiors of the boxcars, following which they will be cut up with torches and hauled away. Meanwhile, another crew is busy replacing, all the rails on the east side of the track from the halfway crossing all the way back to Almonte. A broken wheel apparently spread the track at about eight foot intervals for the entire distance and trains have been on a go-slow order along that stretch since rail traffic was resumed the day following the accident.

A telegraph pole beside the crossing which had the bottom portion sheared off leaving the top dangling on its wares has yet to be replaced. Traffic on Highway 29 was disrupted for several days while heavy cranes removed most of the 30 cars which left the rails during the pileup and had to be rerouted along the 8th line and the Appleton road. Marks are clearly visible where derailed box cars rolled across the highway adjacent to the crossing gouging deep ruts in the asphalt. Some are even evident several feet back of the white line on the south side of the track where vehicle traffic is required to stop. Occupants of a car and a Bell Telephone truck who witnessed the derailment from that location were fortunate they had stopped well short of the crossing.

Ottawa Citizen 22 January 1969

CARLETON PLACE  Attempts to clear the $500,000 wreckage of 34 freight cars piled up at a level crossing near here Tuesday continued this morning under the threat of an explosion from two overturned propane gas tankers.

Provincial police kept guard over the area, about three miles north of here on Highway 29 at the CPR crossing, as about 50 men and two giant cranes hauled twisted box cars from the clogged line.
The highway remained closed to traffic today while other trains were rerouted.

The two tankers were not ruptured in the massive 3.30 p.m. derailment, but police kept hundreds of curious spectators well back from the scene in the event leaking gas might explode. Both police and railway officials were astonished that there had been no injuries. One of the first cars to derail left the tracks just before the level crossing and sliced across the highway only a few feet in front of a waiting school bus.

Other cars ripped up sections of the highway, railway lines and wooden ties as they piled up, and in some cases, landed on top of one another. One freight car landed with its steel wheels on top of a tanker.
Two hydro poles were sliced through by other cars. The top section of one pole was left dangling over the line supported only by the high-voltage cables. Complete wheel assemblies of many cars were torn off as they piled into one another and lay strewn along the tracks among sections of line, twisted cars and splintered ties.

A crack which caused the leading wheel of either the fourth or fifth car to come off is believed to be to blame for the $500,000 freight train crash near Carleton Place yesterday. It is known that at least eight rails between Almonte and the accident scene were broken.

Photo from the Carleton Place Canadian from the Wanda Lee Morrison and the late Joan Kehoe collection.

This could have been caused by the faulty wheel running out of line and pounding against the rail as the east bound train headed for Carleton Place, said one railway employee. The 60-car freight train left Chalk River several hours before. Its speed at the time of the accident was estimated to be about 45 m.p.h. George G. Sayer, assistant superintendent for the Smiths Falls division of CPR, said work crews were concentrating their efforts to pulling cars away from the tracks and repairing breaks so regular traffic, which had been diverted to other lines, could again travel the main line.

Mr. Sayer said he hoped the two cranes, one brought in from Smiths Falls and the other from Sudbury, could pull the two tankers back on to the tracks and pull them away by sometime this afternoon.

“The line should be open again by about 5 p.m. today,” he said, adding that the general freight being carried by the train could then be hauled away and the other cars righted and moved later this week.

Mr. Sayer said there was, as far as he could tell, little damage to the cargo. One eye-witness, Bill Ritchie, 32, a Bell Telephone employee from Almonte, was driving north toward the level crossing when he saw the red signal lights begin flashing.

“I saw the train swaying so I stopped about 500 feet from the tracks,” he said. “The next thing I saw were freight cars flying through the air like cardboard boxes in a high wind. It was terrifying.”
He said a couple of cars shot across the highway “while the others piled up on the north side like magazines thrown on the floor.”

“There was a hell of a crash and snow flying in the air. A lot landed on my truck so I jumped out and after a minute or two ran up to the tracks. I thought people would be hurt,” said Mr.Ritchie.
He said that by the time he got there, people from the locomotive, that had shot through the crossing pulling three cars and dragging a fourth without wheels, met him.

“One box car just missed the school bus, which luckily didn’t have any children aboard, and another cut into the hydro poles and the warning flashers,” said Mr. Richie.
“There was a ball of fire in the sky when one hydro pole was cut off,” said Mr. Ritchie, who added that he and a work-mate then flagged down cars until police arrived.

The McKellar Train Derailment 1913

The McKellar Train Derailment 1913
Photo from Charles Dobie’s page and LAC

I saw this on Charles Dobie’s history pages and really had to find out the story behind this photo. If you love photos from the past this page of Mr. Dobie’s is the place to check out.

So where today would this location be? Thanks to

David C Elgear – well, the tracks actually hit the SJAM just past the beach (where the Transitway merged). I would assume it was a little further along. Lawn Avenue is also in the story….it is up parallel to Carling Ave just past Carlingwood…..a little bit of a hike

Ottawa Journal Thursday 26 June 1913

Saw Train Wrecked; Tells Thrilling Story of the Scenes After the Crash
Westboro Resident was Watching Express from Electric Car

Four Coaches Suddenly Jumped Outwards Into the River – Terrible Scenes Immediately Followed.

Mr. H. Hill, of Westboro, witnessed the wreck. Mr. Hill and his wife had taken a car ride to Britannia. He says: “Returning, when near McKellar Townsite, between McKellar homestead and Mason’s mill. I noticed the train coming. Two track-layers had just stood aside to allow the train to pass when suddenly four coaches upset. Two fell inwards and two outwards into the Ottawa River.  The two which upset towards the shore side of the tracks fell on the two track men. They must have been killed.

“The engine and first three coaches and the last two did not leave the rails. The engine and first three coaches broke away from the wreck and went forward. Then the last coach of the three broke loose again from the engine and front two cars. The last two coaches stood on the track. They did not telescope. Two of the cars, the ones which fell inwards, buckled and fell nearly lengthwise. We got one man out from right underneath one of these cars. His chest was badly mangled and he died immediately afterward without gaining consciousness.

“The cars in the river were only half submerged and when the rescue party arrived we broke in the windows and commenced to pull out the people in these cars'”

“Some of the dead came from these cars. Whether they were pinned down and drowned in that way, I do not know. They may have been stunned and drowned in this manner.

The first people we took out of the cars on the bank were a man and a boy with their hands badly injured. They were placed in the ambulance and hurried to the hospital. The first doctors to arrive on the scene were Dr. I.G. Smith and Dr. Kidd.

We took a Salvation Army girl out of the first coach to go into the water. She was uninjured and was taken to the Salvation Army headquarters in the city. Another old gentleman, his wife and five children were in the last coach to overturn. The old gentleman broke a window and climbed out. They were all uninjured. A girl of about seven years of age and her brother of fifteen years were on their way to Edmonton, to meet their father. They were with their mother and she is as yet unaccounted for. They were taken from a coach which overturned into the water, and the supposition is that their mother was drowned.

“There were quite a number of foreigners, Russians, Scandinavians, and others in the colonist car which overturned into the water.

From what I could see they will be unable to find just how many are in the cars which went into the water until the wrecking crew lift the cars. One of the cars broke of its trucks and fell in the stream nearly turning upside down. It finally lay on is (sic) side.

photo- citynews.org and LAC

Old Man’s Story

“The old gentleman with the five children told me his experience of this wreck. ‘I was standing up’, he said, ‘when I felt the car going over. After the first shock I braced myself and fell into the corner without any injury. I was merely shaken up. Although it happened in a second it felt as if it took the car half a minute to fall on its side. The Salvation Army girl was thrown violently from one side of the car to the other side of the car but was uninjured.

“The first men on the scene were the section men,” continued Mr. Hill “I and some other people in the car ran across the fields to the train, but the section men commenced the work of rescue immediately.

“Two girls who live close to the wreck, the two Misses Barrie, did heroic work in attending to the injured. They carried pails of water and stimulants around to the injured, helped dress wounds and assisted the surgeons.
“Mr. Dunning, who lives close to the scene of the wreck, telephoned to the Chief of Police, also for ambulances and doctors, and it was due to him that ambulances and autos to care for the injured reached the scene of the wreck so quickly. He also provided linen to dress the wounds received by the injured. The first ambulance arrived about 15 or 20 minutes after the wreck had taken place.

“There was a lady and her daughter taken from the first car to turn into the water. The lady’s head was badly crushed. Her daughter was uninjured but hysterical. The most pathetic incident was that of the two children bound for Edmonton. They searched the faces of each injured person taken from the wreck, looking for their mother.

“Whether the accident was caused by a spreading rail or not I do not know. When I got there one of the rails was turned clear of the ties altogether. I do not know what the section men were doing at that spot but I imagine that they were engaged in laying new ties.

There is no curve at that spot, so I imagine that the track was weakened in some way and that the weight of the engine spread the rail and the swing of the back coaches would strain the weakened track and bulge it to one side. I didn’t hear any of the officials discussing the cause of the wreck.

The insides of the cars were very badly wrecked, although the cars themselves were not telescoped. The seats were ripped every way , all torn from the floor. The floors were not turned up, but the sides on which the cars fell were caved in and smashed to splinters. I think that the majority of the people hurt were on the side which fell and that the fall of the heavy seats, torn from their fastenings, caused quite a number of fatalities.”

Ottawa Journal 26 June 1913

Over 5,000 visited scene of wreck. Inquiry is ordered.
Enquiry into the cause of fatal wreck ordered injured recovering
Death list now totals 8, and injured sixty-five

CPR will open inquiry tomorrow – woman believe dead is found alive – woman passenger disappears.
The inquest in connection with the tragic wreck of the Imperial Limited at McKellar Township yesterday afternoon was opened by Coroner Dr. Craig at noon today. The jury met at Rogers and Burney’s undertaking parlors, Laurier Avenue, and adjournment was made till tomorrow night in the courthouse, Nicholas Street.

All that took place today was the formal identification of the body of John Peace, Glasgow, Scotland by his chum, a man named Cutt of the same place. The inquest will be nominally into the death of Peace, but will really concern itself with the whole tragedy and it cause.

Messrs George Hodge, general superintendent, and C Murphy, general superintendent of traffic for the CPR arrived in the city this morning, and the company’s inquiry into the circumstances will begin tomorrow at the Broad Street Station. Superintendent Gilliland of the Ottawa – Chalk River division of the CPR on which the accident occurred is here from Smith Falls.

Seen by a Journal reporter, Mr. Gilliland denied the report that any section men have been killed, but admitted that section men had been working on the right-of-way in the vicinity of the wreck.
“I don’t know how the report that section men had been crushed to death had his origins,” he said.
The Montreal – Ottawa division of the CPR over which superintendent Spencer has jurisdiction and responsibility, has its western limit at the end of the Broad Street terminal yards, or about 2 miles east of the place where the derailment happened.

The monetary loss to the company will not be great, according to opinions expressed this morning. While the two cars that went down the embankment into the river are now of practically no value the other two that were twisted into the opposite direction can, according to Mr. Gilliland, be still repaired and used.

The track was cleared by 6:30 this morning and a great part of the morning was spent in raising the four cars. This will take some time.

There are several changes in the list of fatalities. Mrs. Bunting, of Winnipeg, and her little child were reported this morning to have been among the killed. As a matter of fact they are stopping at the home of Mr. E. Hurry, of Woodroffe. Mrs. Bunting and her four children came through the accident with no very great injury, although the mother has slight injuries about the back.

The body supposed to have been that of Mrs. Bunting proved to be that of Mrs. McClure and Edmonton woman, of about 52 years of age. She was on her way out to Edmonton after a visit. The child found and said at first to be the daughter of Mrs. Bunting is the granddaughter of mrs. McClure. Its mother who escaped from the wreck with only slight injuries is at 131 Lawn Avenue, the home of Mr. John Sarsfield.
Woman disappears.

Strange things can happen at times of great excitement, such as that which prevailed after yesterday’s accident, and strange things did. One of the most remarkable was the sprinting away of a woman who had come through the wreck physically unscathed but with her nervous system badly shaken. She was standing beside the cars sobbing her sorrow for the less fortunate friends, when a helpful woman took her, and led her away. Those taking the names of survivors failed to get a record of this woman’s identity, and since the accident she has not been heard from. Superintendent Spencer of the CPR is anxious to get in touch with her.
John Donnelly of Glen Island, has left St. Luke’s Hospital fully recovered. He was pinned under a seat and nearly drowned.

During the afternoon and evening the Ottawa Electric Railway carried about 5,000 passengers out to the wreck. Cars from every service in the city were rushed on to the Britannia line to accommodate the overflow.

The Ottawa Journal
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
26 Jun 1913, Thu  •  Page 7
The Ottawa Journal
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
26 Jun 1913, Thu  •  Page 7
The Ottawa Journal
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
26 Jun 1913, Thu  •  Page 1
  1. relatedreading

The Almonte Wreck Poem George Millar Dec 29 1942

The Almonte Railway – Memories

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

Photos from the train accident

Ian Steup

This derailment was put on Postcards back in the day. Found these in my Grandfather’s collection.

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

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

How do you portray the depth of what an infant possibly experienced on a cold winter night on December 27th, 1942 in the 9th worst railway crash in Canadian history?  Here is the untold story of the baby that survived that fateful night– Fred Gauthier by Vern Barr. Fred was the baby that was found the next day in a tree near the Almonte War Memorial by the town hall and was totally fineafter being thrown by the train.

79 years ago today in 2021

The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
28 Dec 1942, Mon  •  Page 3
The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
29 Dec 1942, Tue  •  Page 11

This is a photo of the Gauthier family who took that fateful train journey and was involved in the Almonte train wreck December 28,1942. The baby is Freddy Gauthier who was thrown out the train window 

The Ottawa Evening Journal – Monday, December 28, 1942

Almonte Wreck Death Toll 36; 118 in Hospital; Icy Rails Blamed(See photos below)10 Ottawa Residents Perish In Crash; Many Are Still Unreported.  Death List Mounting From Among 200 Injured.  The ghastly story of last night’s railway disaster still was incomplete this afternoon.  Mounting hourly, the death toll has reached 36.  To the horror of the slaughter and the suffering was added the confusion and uncertainty of identifying all those whose lives were lost in Ontario’s worst railroad wreck of 32 years.  C.P.R. Statement:  In the latest of its statements the Canadian Pacific Railway said 33 had been killed and 118 injured when the troop train sliced through the three rear coaches of the Pembroke-Ottawa local boarding holiday passengers at the Almonte station.  Death had out-dated the railway’s list even as it was issued.  At noon there were 30 bodies in the basement of the Almonte Town Hall, one of them that of a child found in the wreckage late in the morning.  Aboard the hospital trains, bringing the injured to Ottawa, another four had died.  At the Civic Hospital one more was added to the death list.  This afternoon, with the total of dead at 36, hospital authorities reported others among the injured were in critical condition and might not survive.  23 Identified.  Of the dead, 23 had been identified.  Ten of them were residents of Ottawa.  Estimates of the number injured ran as high as 200.  While investigators yet had issued no statement on the cause of the disaster, railwaymen blamed icy rails, a down-grade in the line, and the congestion of holiday travel which disrupted running schedules.  The Pembroke-Ottawa local, crammed with people returning to work at the end of the holiday week-end, should have left Almonte an hour before the collision at 8.30 p.m.  The night was stormy, with sleet and snow falling, and the train had been delayed at each stop along its Ottawa Valley run by the record holiday traffic load.  Soldiers aboard the troop train said it had been travelling at “a fair rate of speed”.  Rolling as an extra, and making no stops for passengers, the troop train was on schedule when it research Almonte, where, for an hour, the track should have been clear.  The troop train was on a down-grade when its headlight, piercing the darkness and the added gloom of slanting sleet and snow, picked out the red lamps on the rear coach of the Pembroke-Ottawa local.  Brakes Failed.  Railwaymen theorized that at this moment when the troop train rolled down the grade leading to the Almonte station, its brakes failed to do more than slow it.  The wheels, locked by the brakes, they believed, skidded down the icy rails, sending the heavy locomotive plowing through the rear three wooden coaches of the standing train.  There were no sidings leading off the main line to which the troop train could have been switched before it slice through the local.  The crash was on a single-track main Canadian Pacific line.  Further down the grade, and closer to the Almonte station were switches leading to three or four sidings.  But between those switches and the troop train were the end cars of the local.  Investigators of the railway and the Dominion Board of Transport Commissioners were at Almonte today probing the tragedy.  Open Inquest.  At 11 o’clock this morning – 15 hours after the disaster – an inquest was opened by Coroner A. A. Metcalfe at the Almonte Town Hall, in the basement of which rested bodies of 30 of the dead.    
These pictures were taken by Wilma Munro, of Almonte,  with her “Brownie” camera in 1942.  She had many copies made and sold them in McDonald’s Store, Almonte, Ontario for 5 cents a copy.
Dead—With only a number of the 32 persons killed identified at an early hour this morning, following is a tentative list of the dead and injured:  DEAD – Melville C. Bailey, 19, soldier, of Calabogie, son of Mrs. Gordon Bailey, Calabogie; Miss Rae Burgess, Renfrew; Samuel H. Butler, Admaston, Ont.; Darlene Belcher, 22 RR No. 1, Arnprior, Ont. (identity positively established by father).  Miss Belcher worked in Ottawa.; Joseph Charron, 202 Bolton street, Ottawa.; Mrs. C. Couvrette, 41 St. Marie street, Wrightville.; Private E. J. Desjardins, Brockville, Ont.; Francis S. Herrick, 39, employee of Department of Transport, Ottawa, who resided at 396 MacLaren street.  His body was identified by his brother, Owen Herrick.; Private Michael Lapointe, Canadian Army Basic Training Center, Ottawa.; S. O. Link (or Lusk) of Renfrew.; Mrs. Mary Kelly, of Renfrew.; Pte. E. G. MacDonald, Chalk River, stationed at Kingston.; Miss Betty McPhail, Renfrew.; Janet McNab, daughter of Angus McNab, 592 Horton street, Renfrew.; Eldon Montgomery, of Arnprior.; AC2 K. G. Moorehouse, R.C.A.F., Kingston, Ont.; Lieut Douglas Merkham, 48th street west, Vancouver.; Harry F. O’Brien, 34, and his two-year-old son, Jack, 552 Hilson avenue, Ottawa.; Corporal P. O. Brien, Petawawa Camp, Ont.; Dorothy Rafter, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Rafter, Gillam, Man. and Arnprior.; Gilbert Raymond, 15 Katharine street, Carleton Place.; Mrs. Gilbert Raymond, Carleton Place.; Cecilia Rowan, 297, Arlington avenue and RR No. 2, Renfrew.; Gordon Scheels, Renfrew.; Private W. S. Storie, C100824, Ottawa.; Turcotte baby.; Private Fred Volz, 72 Balsam street, Ottawa and Frank White, 30 Hanna street, Eastview, Ont.
InjuredAt the Civic Hospital;Guardsman Fred Gauthier, 38 LeBreton street, shock; Viola Armstrong, 19 of 26 Lewis street, head injuries; Mrs. Fred Gauthier, suffering from shock and possible fractured nose; and their five months old baby boy, shock and other undetermined injuries; Julius Carl Kitner, of Fort Erie, Ont., injuries about the head and eyes; Mrs. Carl Kitner, of Fort Erie, severe shock; Elizabeth McPhail, 20 of Winnipeg and residing at 180 Lisgar street; Myrtle Moore, 275 Booth street, severe shock.In Rosamond Hospital;Miss Patsy Foulds, 124 Flora street; Bob Scheel, of Arnprior, employed with Laurentian Air Services, Ottawa; Pte. Howard Hillard, of Renfrew; Mr. and Mrs. J. A. Wilson, of Renfrew; Muriel Schell, Arnprior; Margaret Petinsky, Renfrew; Nora Beronsky, Arnprior; Dorothy Walker.Other Injured;Agnes F. Andrecheck, No. 8 Service Flying Training School at Moncton; Mr. and Mrs. H. Beauregard, 207 Laurier avenue, Ottawa, and their nephew Larry Sutcliffe; Anna Barsky, Arnprior; Titania Bratyenko, Montreal; Lila Barr, Renfrew; Alice Barr, Renfrew; Aileen Bescinsky, no address; Norman Butler, no address; Miss Margaret Campbell, Renfrew, who works in Ottawa, injuries unknown; Mrs. Chartrand; Anna Chepeskie, Renfrew, T. A. Cook, 511 Gladstone avenue, Ottawa; T. H. Coombs, Renfrew; L. J. Colds, RCAF, Headquarters, Ottawa; Mrs. Comberford, no address; Mrs. S. Cutts, 117 Gloucester street, Ottawa; Pte. Gordon Evans, Bancroft, Ont.; Philip Freemark, Renfrew; Douglas Finney, 9, of Ottawa, injuries unknown; Ronald Finney, 94 Marlborough avenue, Ottawa; Mrs. Walter Finney, 94 Marlborough avenue, Ottawa, (son also injured); Mrs. Flora Frappier, Arnprior; Margaret Froats, Ottawa, 180 Lisgar street, not serious; C. A. Grierson, 118 Irving avenue, Ottawa; Myrtle Graziano, no address; D. A. Highland, Arnprior; Gilbert Imbleau, Renfrew; Mary Anne Jocko, 206 O’Connor street, Ottawa; Cpl. Sadie Kranz, CWAC, Golden Lake; Kay King, no address; Aileen Liscinsky, Renfrew; Margaret Levinski, Renfrew; Thomas Lynn, Mount St. Patrick, Ont.; Margaret Malloy, Renfrew; Edith McDonnaugh, Arnprior, serious; Helen McDenna, serious; Miss Betty MacPhail, 189 Lisgar street, Ottawa, serious injured; Leslie McHugh, Renfrew, a civilian, fractured leg and broken nose; Miss Muriel McLean, Arnprior; Marion MacMillan, 157 Wesley street, Westboro, Ont.; Anna McHugh, Renfrew; Mr. McRae, no address; Mrs. Jean Muirhead, 238 Slater street, Ottawa; Felix Melsiki, no address; C. R. Nicholson, 91 Stewart street, Ottawa; Ray Poole, 248 O’Connor street, Ottawa; Mrs. Jean O’Brien, 552 Hilson avenue, Ottawa; Mrs. H. F. O’Brien, 552 Hilson avenue, Ottawa; John O’Shea, Renfrew; Charles O’Reilly, Douglas, Ont.; Howard Osler, no address; Lois Pilon, 190 Gladstone avenue; Margaret Robertson, Turtleford, Sask.; Corp. Esther Ross, RCAF, (W.D.), Ottawa, Jackson Building, injuries unknown; Florence Rantz, Petawawa; Mr. and Mrs. Emerson Roach, Renfrew; Olive Scott, Renfrew; Mrs. Desmond Raby, Petawawa; Sadie Shellhorn, 26 Kippewa Drive, Ottawa; Sylvester Sullivan, Barry’s Bay, a civilian, possible fracture of the skull.  Cuts to face and body and shock; Theresa Sulphur, Renfrew; Milton E. Smyth, Pembroke; Ben Toristskee, Killaloe; Mr. and Mrs. Maurice Turcotte, 371 Cambridge street, Ottawa; Cecile Turcotte, no address; Mildred A. Viner, 430 Clarence street, Ottawa; Bridget Wendle, Renfrew; Mr. and Mrs. J. A. Wilson, Renfrew; Pte. Coulus Zigner, Barry’s Bay, stationed at Lansdowne Park; Bernard Tugent, no address; Gunnard Taccott; Francis Valiquette; and Mildred Vince, no address.Others Injured;Gunner Orville Belair, CATC, Petawawa; Norah Bososki, Arnprior; Cpl. Beauchamp, Pembroke; Talena Batunanko, 3499 City Hall avenue west, Montreal; Rita Burns, Renfrew; E. W. Burke, 24 Spadina avenue, Ottawa; Elizabeth Carter, Huntley; Zita Carter, Huntley; Ellen Carswell, Renfrew; Jean Carswell, Renfrew; Mrs. Hector Jones, Renfrew; J. W. Chartrand, Petawawa; E. H. Collings, 150 Front street, Belleville, serious injuries; Mrs. E. H. Collins, Belleville; QMS, B. G. Crowley, 404 Gilmour street and Pte. Arthur Charbonneau, Arnprior. (more listed but center of page is missing)Injured in Wreck Tell Experiences84 Stretcher Cases, Some 20 Walking – Injured Brought Here by Hospital Train.Vivid descriptions of how death and destruction tore through the rear coaches of their train at Almonte station were told by badly injured who arrived by special hospital train at Union Station at 5.30 this morning.  The train left Almonte with 84 stretcher cases and some 20 walking injured – but three of the most seriously hurt died en route – two men and a woman.  There was not a murmur of pain or complaint from the shattered and bleeding forms as they were laboriously lifted from the improvised ambulance cars and rushed by a fleet of civilian and military ambulances to city hospitals. One of the Bravest Injured.  One of the bravest of the injured was Mrs. Harold O’Brien, of Ottawa, a young matron returning from spending holidays in Petawawa.  Lying on a stretcher patiently waiting her turn to be taken to hospital, she told reporters her husband, a two year old baby and her sister, Mrs. DesRavey, of Petawawa, were separated from her in the crash and she did not know what happened to them.  She had been in one of the rear cars of the train and had suffered leg injuries and a head injury, which left her unconscious until medical help revived her.  Tearless and patient, she inquired vainly for her family.  (Her husband and baby were later reported killed.)  Two pretty sisters, Alice and Lilah Barr, were sitting near the rear end of the second – last car when the troop special crashed through it.  They are Renfrew girls, who work in the Transport Department here and were returning from Christmas holidays at home. Lilah suffered broken legs while Alice escaped with a badly cut wrist and hand.  “We were sitting near the door, side by side,” Alice said, “talking to Mrs. English, of Renfrew, an old friend of ours, when the crash came.  They had to cut away seats to get us out.  Mrs. English was killed.”  Man Thrown 40 Feet.  Tom Lynn, a young war worker returning to his job in St. Catherines, Ont., after spending the holidays at his home in Mount St. Patrick, near Renfrew, told a vivid story of the crash.  “I was in the rear car”, he said.  The engine tore through it and turned it right on end.  I was thrown 40 feet from the wreckage but did not lose consciousness.”  “But I could not help the others.  My leg was broken and I had to lie there in the snow until help came.  The doctors and nurses were wonderful.  They gave me morphine and put a splint on my leg and I should be all right.”  Wilfrid Moisan, of Montreal, described seeing one sailor catapulted out a window and another through a hole in the root.  “I had just boarded the train and was walking down the aisle of the third car from the end when the crash came”, he said.  “There was a sailor standing hear the drinking water tank.  He shot out the window and that is all I remember until I recovered consciousness several minutes later.”  Moisan and his wife both escaped serious injury.  Two Cars Smashed.  “The engine went right through the end car and half through the next one,” he said.  “I helped pull seven or eight people from the wreckage, some of them through windows.  They were badly hurt.  “I don’t know whether they were dead or not.  We took them to a theatre across the street from the station.  “Among those I helped was a sailor who had been thrown through the roof where it had buckled.  He landed about 25 feet from the train.  When we started to get on the train at Almonte my wife wanted to get on the rear car but I thought there might be more room up front.  I am sure glad we didn’t get on the back.”  Nursing Sister Ann Thorpe of St. John’s, Que., was a passenger in the second car from the rear end of the train.  She arrived in Ottawa on the hospital train, her white collar flecked with blood and with only one desire – to get to a hospital and continue helping to care for the injured.  “I can’t tell you much about what happened”, she said, “but I can tell you the doctors and nurses did a splendid job.  I was not injured and so I was able to help.  Now I must get to a hospital and get back to work.”  Everything Flew Apart.  Mrs. Ann Barski, of Arnprior, Ont., and her seven year old niece, Tatanni Bratzenko, of Montreal, rode from the hospital train to an ambulance on the same stretcher.  Both suffered arm injuries.  Mrs. Barski had a magazine wrapped around her arm for a splint while her niece sat up on the end of the stretcher, silent but smiling.  Mrs. Barski said she was riding in the centre of the last car, one which was telescoped by the other engine.  “I saw the lights of the train coming”, she said.  “It seemed to be going quite fast.  The suddenly everything just flew apart and I felt as though I was all in pieces.”  Pte. J. Bechamp of Pembroke, suffered a compound fracture of his left leg when he tried to save a companion, Miss Lois Pilon, of Ottawa, from injury.  Miss Pilon also suffered a leg injury, but less serious.  

Miraculous Escapes– Almonte Train Wreck

The Almonte Wreck Poem George Millar Dec 29 1942

A Personal Letter John Reid, Almonte 1942

  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?

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


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

  1. 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?

Linda’s Dreadful Dark Tales – When Irish Eyes Aren’t Smiling

Linda’s Dreadful Dark Tales – When Irish Eyes Aren’t Smiling

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My mother had just packed my clothing in the old brown suitcase she had come from Ireland with. I had decided to leave school and was going to see if I could get a job at the Rideau Hotel in Smiths Falls. I had seen an ad in the local newspaper boasting about airy rooms, modern conveniences, fine food and I was sure I could find myself a place.

My mother kissed me goodbye as I boarded the old Pembroke local Arnprior #2518 and hoped we would make good time to Smiths Falls. The smell of the train was horrid as the wooden cars were overloaded with holiday travellers and the train was leaking. We stopped and stalled many times and the conductor told us we were an hour behind schedule and the groans in my car were louder that the roar of the train whistle.

Finally we arrived in Almonte at approximately 8:40 pm, and I let out a sigh of relief but had no idea there was danger in the air. I had no thoughts that a 10 steel car troop train was heading our way and our train should not be at the station. No one knew that the local train crew did not send a flagman back along the tracks nor did anyone place a torpedo on the rail to warn the approaching troop train that was heading to Stittsville. Someone later said that they saw the light of the train as it crossed the trestle over the waterfall and by the time the engineer spotted the lights of the oncoming train some of our lives were about to be cut short. I was seated in the last coach as the powerful CPR 4-6-4 Hudson #2802 hit us dead on. All I remember was a loud roar, bright lights and then I was gone as the locomotive barreled through our car and on to the one ahead of us.

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Some say the brakes of the troop train failed and slid down the icy rails that night. Thirty-six of us died and over were 200 injured as the sleet and the snow came down like icy tears. As I  looked down over the train wreck 30 minutes later I saw what was left of my body being brought into the local Post Office. I knew my mother would be devastated to lose her only child and hoped they might find my suitcase so she would have something to remember.

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There would be no job at The Rideau Hotel for me or continuation of a promising life with family. All I could do was look down and sing, “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling” as I watched the death list mounting below me. I knew I would haunt the Almonte Post Office for the rest of my life as I was one of 30 whose life’s lamp untimely went out that snowy night on December 27, 1942.

Despite immediate emergency service from as far away as Ottawa, 36 people died and over 200 were injured. Bodies were packed into the basement of the old Town Hall and the Post Office. It’s said that the Post Office is still haunted by the ghosts of the dead – 64 years later.

Private photos were taken by Wilma Munro, of Almonte, with her “Brownie” camera in 1942.  She had many copies made and sold them in McDonald’s Store, Almonte, Ontario for 5 cents a copy.


The Gazette
Montreal, Quebec, Quebec, Canada
29 Dec 1942, Tue  •  Page 1

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