Details of Railway Accidents in the Ottawa Area



1899, August 8 - St. Polycarpe, Canada Atlantic Railway.




The passenger car in the picture is 2nd class Pullman-built coach 300, in which most of the passengers died, due to scalding steam from the locomotive boiler. The remaining three (not five) passenger cars are still upright behind the coach. The express-baggage car has run past the inverted tender and derailed behind the photographer, without fatalities.
Although the papers reported that eight died in this wreck, the total subsequently appears to have risen to ten.  This was effectively the end of racing between the CPR and CAR, although on 17 July 1901, the largest 4-4-2 Atlantic was tested over a measured mile at 92.75 mph. However the benefits of this speed were apparently never reflected in running time to Montreal.

It also may have been the last service for the almost brand new Pullman-built car 300, which, although repaired, was apparently destroyed in the Elgin Street car shop fire of 21 March 1902 and never again appeared on the roster.

Here is a newspaper account:

Eight dead in wreck.
Ottawa Aug. 9.  The Canada Atlantic fast train, which should have arrived here at noon today, jumped the track at St. Polycarpe Junction and Fireman Geo. McCuaig and a sectionman and a second class passenger, whose name cannot be ascertained, were killed.
It is supposed that the train jumped the track at the switch.
Engineer Orr was slightly injured and five passengers more or less injured.
The accident was the first since the inception of the road and General Manager Chamberlain was at a loss to imagine the cause of it.
The track at St. Polycarpe is as level as a floor and there are no ditches.  The track is said to be about the best piece of road on the system and is constructed with 73 pound steel rails. The fast express from Ottawa to Montreal, which leaves the Central Depot at 8.40 passed over the same track ten minutes before the ill fated express, crossing the Montreal train at Coteau Junction.
The wreck train left Montreal at 9.40 o'clock and was due at Ottawa at 12.10.  It was the fast express and was made up of a baggage car, a second class, a first class, two parlour cars, a sleeper and the Intercolonial parlour car.
Five of the cars left the track, the Intercolonial car and the sleeper being the two rear cars remained on the rails.
So far as learned, the baggage car, the second class and the engine were piled together in a heap.  All the passengers that were injured were in the second class car.
The news spread around town with wonderful rapidity, and the most exaggerated reports were prevalent.
Hundreds of people kept the telephones ringing and called at the station to get news.
Friends of the excursionists, who went to Ste. Ann de Beaupre, were especially anxious as it was feared that some of the victims were on the train.
The special train with pilgrims to Ste. Anne de Beaupre was shortly behind the regular at the time of the wreck.  It was due about two o'clock, but it will not likely reach here before six o'clock.
Within an hour after the wreck, six doctors were on the scene attending to the injured.
As the news of the accident spread around the city people flocked down to the Central Depot to await the arrival of the special train sent out to convey the passengers to the city.  Many had friends on board and were extremely anxious to hear whatever news was going.  Very little satisfactory, however, could be obtained, as the operators at the wires were, according to the rules, forbidden to impart any information.
The killed so far as identified are O'Connor, Rochleau and Roach.
Later - the identified so far are:
Joseph Rochleau and daughter, of Champlain Street, Montreal.  Ned Stairs, Ottawa. Wilson O'Connor, Ottawa.
The fatally injured are Nellie Ryan, Aridget Ryan and Ellen McDougall of Maniwaki and Mrs. Jos Rochleau of Montreal.
Most of the dead and injured were pilgrims returning from Ste. Anne de Beaupre.
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Updated January 2014