Details of Railway Accidents in the Ottawa Area

1868, August 18; 1871, December 4 and 1878, September 5 -
Accidents at the Dochart bridge Canada Central Railway, Arnprior

Almonte Gazette 21 August 1868

KILLED BY THE CARS,- On Tuesday last, a brakesman on the B. & O. R., named George Phillips was so much injured by his head coming into contact with a bent in a bridge, under which the train was passing, as to cause death. It appears that, as the noon train to Sand Point had left Arnprior station while passing under a small bridge, Phillips, who was on top of a box car, from some unaccountable reason not observing the danger, received a blow on the temple which threw him back upon the car, where he lay, without being observed, till the train reached Sand Point. Medical assistance was procured, but little could be done for him, and on Wednesday he was removed to his home at Irish Creek, where he died the same day. He was a young man and unmarried.

Perth Courier 21 August 1868


The following are the particulars of a melancholy accident that occurred on the line of the B. & O. Railway on Tuesday last, resulting in death the following day. About noon on the day in question, No. 2, or the morning train from Brockville, passing under a bridge near Arnprior, a brakesman named Geo. Philipps, employed on the train, who was standing on one of the box-cars, not noticing the danger, was struck by the bridge, and his skull smashed in by the force of the blow. He was at once removed to his home at Irish Creek, but died on the following day at 3 o'clock in afternoon. - He was a quiet and well-behaved young man, and was switchman for some time at Smith's Falls

Library and Archives Canada
RG 46 vol 680 letter 696
18/08/1868 Arnprior 0 1 Train No. 2, Conductor W.O'Donnell, Engineman Fitton. Employee Geo Phillips standing on cars and head came in contact with bridge.

Ottawa Citizen 5 December 1871

A brakesman employed on the Brockville and Ottawa Railway was killed yesterday.  He was on top of one of the box cars after leaving Arnprior and, passing under a bridge, about a mile from that village, struck his head against the beam.  He was killed instantly.  An inquest was held on the body after the train arrived at Sand Point, when a verdict in accordance with the facts was rendered.  He was a French Canadian from Lachine where his people reside.

Perth Courier 8 December 1871

ACCIDENT AND LOSS OF LIFE - A brakesman (sic) on the C. C. Railroad met with a sudden death near Arnprior on Monday last. The train left Arnprior station a little after I p.m. for Sand Point, and the brakesman, who had been only a short time on the line, was on top of the cars, when his head came in contact with the bridge which crosses over the track about a mile above the village. His death appeared to be instantaneous. He lay on top of the car until the train arrived at Sand Point, where he was taken off. This is the second time brakesmen have been killed in the same way at the same spot. Surely something might be done by the company to guard against such accidents. It is hardly a fair excuse to say that the man had no business on top of the cars at that place or even that they were aware of the bridge and should look out for it. At a short distance on this side of the particular place alluded to, an excellent public road might be got where it would cross the railway track on the level, besides avoiding the roughest spot between Arnprior and Sand Point. We think railways should have bridge signal that the engineer might then warn the men when nearing any bridge or other similar obstructions.

Almonte Gazette 8 December 1871

Man Killed on the B. & O. R.
A brakesman on the B. & O. R., named Napoleon Bayer, a French Canadian from Lachine, was killed on Monday last. He was on top of one of the boxcars, and passing under a bridge between Arnprior and Sand Point, and not discovering his danger, his head struck against the beams, He was instantly killed. The body was taken to Sand Point, where an inquest was held, and a verdict rendered in accordance with the facts. This is the second fatal accident that has occurred at the same bridge and in the same manner. Surely something could be done by the company, either by raising the bridge or by placing signals some distance from it, to prevent any more accidents of this kind.

Perth Courier 6 September 1878

CONDUCTOR KILLED - As we go to press we learn that Mr. Thomas Malone, conductor on the Canada Central Railway, was killed yesterday at Arnprior. It is supposed that he was on the top of a box-car at the time and his head struck a beam overhead connected with the bridge. Poor Tom was a steady, sober young man, and was rising in the company's services. He was a native of Perth.

Almonte Gazette 13 September 1878

CONDUCTOR ON THE CANADA CENTRAL KILLED. - last Thursday afternoon, while the freight train was going north, after leaving Arnprior at 3 o'clock, the conductor, Thomas Malone, went on the top of the van to see if there were any tramps hanging on the back of the van, they having been in the habit of doing so, and it is supposed that he, not thinking of the bridge which they have to pass under was struck on the top of the head and killed instantly. When noticed by Robert Cram, the brakeman, his foot was hanging over the top of the van. Cram spoke, and receiving no answer, went up and found him lying. Raising him he found he was dead. Death must have been instantaneous, as only two minutes had elapsed from the time he went up until he was found. An inquest was held at Sand Point on the body, and the following verdict was returned : "That the deceased came to his death from his head accidentally coming in contact with Dochart bridge railway crossing while on the top of the car in the discharge of his duty : and we recommend that this being the third accident of a similar nature which has occurred in this vicinity, that the attention of the railway company be called to the fact; so that accidents be prevented, or danger in future, if possible, be obliterated." Deceased's remains were conveyed to Perth by special train. He was the sole support of his widowed mother. The funeral took place on Sunday, 8th inst., and a special train ran over the road to convey officials and others wishing to attend, to Perth.
And this is the third man murdered at this Dochart bridge - a small bridge over the railway track near Arnprior. During the last sitting of the House, a bill was introduced, by Mr. Trow we think, making it illegal for railway companies to build overhead bridges, or retain those already built, at a height that a man standing upon the top of a box car would be in danger of striking ; but the bill did not become law. To our mind, however, the company is more or less censurable for its criminal negligence in continuing the present state of affairs. Are the lives of the employees of no consequence? Is the community to be periodically shocked by hearing of men meeting horrible deaths when, in the performance of their duty, when the expenditure of a few hundred dollars would render such accidents impossible?

Perth Courier 27 December 1878

NEW BRIDGE - The death of three men at the bridge crossing the railway track in Mansfield, near Arnprior, was an argument that the railway authorities could not very well refute; and they have replaced the old structure with a new one, and fully three feet higher. This will most likely prevent further fatal accident to their men. "Better late than never."

Almonte Gazette 27 December 1878

THE - BRIDGE - OF - DEATH. The Arnprior News reports another accident at the bridge over the railway track near that village, which has already been the cause of the death of three railway employees. It says: "On Friday last as Mr. James O'Connor, sen., was crossing the bridge on foot over the railway track in Mansfield, he fell and broke one of his thigh bones. He could not get up from the spot where he fell until one of his sons came along, and procured assistance to take him home. The accident if [sic] a serious one, especially to one of his advanced age. As Mr. O'Connor, who lives about a mile beyond the bridge on the Sand Point road, is an old and much esteemed farmer, his misfortune is much regretted by a large circle of acquaintances. This is the same railway bridge that we noticed in our last issue as having very dangerous approaches to it since it has been rebuilt, and it would appear as if it was doomed to continue its bad name for accidents. Formerly it was so low that no less than three employees of the railway company lost their lives by striking against it while attending to their duties on the top of the cars. To obviate this difficulty the raolway authorities took down the old one and built a new one three feet higher in the centre. In order to get this additional height in the centre, they merely planked the sloping sides of the bridge and in icy weather even horses find it difficult to get a foothold, and accidents are liable to happen. Something should at once be done to remedy this, for there is no use in merely changing the liability to accidents from under to the upper side of the bridge, as appears to be done in this case. The roadway itself should have being raised as well as the bridge in order to make good crossing. The Township Council should look into this matter without delay. We mentioned before that a level crossing could be had near at hand and thus do away with the bridge altogether."

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Updated 26 March 2022