Tale of a 1409

To the uninitiated, the expression ‘Form 1409’ has little meaning. To anyone in railway service at the Canadian Pacific Railway several decades ago, however, the meaning of ‘a 1409’ was quite clear. It was the time-consuming report that had to be filled out in every case of accident or injury, no matter how slight, involving the company's employees or property.

Such reports rarely become public. When one does slip out, however, it can make for some fascinating reading. One such 1409 is reproduced here but, as with much of the unsolicited and anonymous trivia that crossed my desk when I worked for Canadian Pacific some years ago, it cannot be fully substantiated. Two things are certain, however. First, the report’s author was very familiar with railway operations in Fort William, (now Thunder Bay), Ontario.  Second, no one with firsthand railway operating experience would ever suggest that the facts had been any more that slightly embellished.


Station: Fort William Ontario

Date: July 21, 1965 

Time: 1400K


Yard diesel 7018, Engineman N. Tanchik, no fireman, Yard Foreman R.D. Lane, Helpers, B. Lyrozub and H. Dowell working on the regular Farm Assignment had pulled CP 313005, Subway Car destined Toronto, from the Canadian Car Co.'s Industrial track and when reaching the Neebing Ave. gate, yard crew decided to make a running switch so the car could be handled on the west end of the diesel for pulling to the Island Wye for turning. In doing so, the movement was lined up for the diesel to go into the stub track located inside the Canadian Car Co.'s fence and CP 313005 was to go westward on Neebing Ave. lead towards the North Western elevator. Just at the time the running switch was made, a Canadian National yard movement, diesel 7183, moving from a Montreal St. siding and pulling 3 loads behind the diesel, came out foul on Neebing Ave. lead, sideswiping CP 313005 which had been cut off and was moving free on the Neebing Ave. lead in a westerly direction. The impact caused the subway car to come loose from its moorings on CP 313005 and catapult off the car, clearing the ditch on the north side of the track and striking the Jenkins Funeral Home Hearse, a 1963 Cadillac model, license 34762-J driven by H. Gillman, which was heading a funeral procession and also moving slowly in a westerly direction. The Subway Car struck the middle of the Hearse and this resulted in the coffin being shot out of the damaged hearse, striking the macadamized roadway and the body of the late Mr. A. Brown, a well known pioneer of the City, was dislodged from the coffin and landed up laying face down, in 6 inches of water, in the ditch on the north side of the roadway. H. Gillman, driver of Jerkin’s hearse, received a knock on the head which rendered him deaf instantly; whereupon he ran back towards town on the highway. He was later picked up by a motorist from the funeral procession that had been commandeered to take Mrs. A. Brown to hospital because she had collapsed when she discovered what had happened. Mr. N. Jenkins, director of the Jenkins Funeral Home and driver of the automobile following the hearse was unable to assist in this respect as he and the 4 pallbearers were injured by flying glass when they were unable to avoid running into the damaged hearse. CP 313005, the flat car which had the Subway Car on it, remained on the rails and ran free down the Neebing Ave., lead when Yardman B. Lyrozub was knocked off the car when it came in contact with the Canadian National diesel 7183. The flat car ran into #4 track at the North Western elevator demolishing the stopblock and coming to rest, hanging half over the trestle over the Kam River. Canadian National diesel 7183 when struck by CP 313005 had all wheels derailed at the point of impact and Engineman R. Spithead had several upper and lower teeth knocked out when he pitched forward and hit his head on the control stand in the cab when the diesel stopped suddenly. The third or last car of the drag being pulled by the Canadian National diesel 7183 was CN 660042 containing concrete blocks loaded at Terra-Krete on Montreal St. This car was exactly on the Montreal St. crossing when incident occurred and when it stopped suddenly, 11 concrete blocks toppled off the car, landing on a 1964 Chevrolet Sedan, license 64F33 owned and driven by W. Wytoruk of 1822 Hillsdale Drive, St. Paul, Minn. who had stopped on Montreal St. at the crossing to allow the Canadian National movement to clear. Damage to W. Wytoruk's automobile was estimated at about $1,000 and Wytoruk substained (sic) 2 apparent broken legs and was taken to hospital. Yard diesel 7018 which was involved in making the running switch in the first place was lined up to go into the stub track inside the Canadian Car Co.'s fence and became derailed. It was discovered the Roadmaster had shortened up this track to about 40 feet in length but had forgot to put out any advice in this regard. The diesel 7018 ran out of rails and stopped with all wheels completely off the track and listing on an angle of about 45 degrees. Yard crew and engineman on diesel 7018 were unaware that the stub track inside the Canadian Car Co.'s fence had been shortened and their view of the track was impaired by the density and height of flora on the track, which obliterated rails, ties and stop-block

The last detail of this handwritten report was a note, probably added by the Chief Clerk to the Superintendent:

“Hold wire to Montreal as AJC advises he may be able to cover it up.”

Bytown Railway Society,  Branchline, April 1988, page 15.

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