On 9 February 1904 Canadian Pacific train 7 collided head on with
Canadian Pacific train 8 about two miles west of Sand Point
Thirteen people died and nineteen were hurt in this accident.
Tid Bits by Duncan
H. du Fresne,
Branchline, May 2006.
The meet of CP
trains 7 and 8
at Sand Point, Ontario. Sand Point, is a little town along the shores
of the Ottawa River and is located just west of Arnprior. It was not,
usually, the meeting point for trains 7 and 8. The meet we're about to
read about happened in 1904, just over 102 years ago. And, it was a
"cornfield meet", or head-on collision to the layman.
Mr. R. Glenn Jamieson of Sand Point sent Branchline the following
article and photograph, as a result of going through the effects of his
late Mother. Mr. Jamieson is a retired CN-VIA conductor and a friend of
a retired CP engineman, Doug Chalmers (a former colleague of mine) who
also lives in Sand Point. So, without further comment, here is the
article verbatim, just as I received it:
TRAIN WRECK AT SAND
POINT IN 1904
"Thirteen Dead, 19 Hurt, Sand Point Collision". The Citizen (newspaper)
Ottawa, Canada, Wednesday, February 10, 1904.
"In a head on collision between two C.P.R. passenger trains near Sand
Point early yesterday morning more than a dozen lives were lost and
some nineteen people were injured more or less seriously. Travelling at
a rapid rate of speed, the westbound Soo train #7 in charge of
Conductor Nidd with Engineer Dudley, collided head-on with No. 8, the
eastbound Soo train in charge of Conductor Forester and Engineer
Jackson. Failure of the up-going train to obey orders and remain on the
siding at Sand Point till No. 8 passed, was the cause of the smash.
An official list of the dead follow: Joseph Jackson, engineer, Ottawa
W. Mullen, newsagent, Montreal Robert Thompson, express messenger,
Montreal John O'Toole, baggageman, Ottawa Ernest Dubois, fireman,
Hochelaga Nelson Robertson, express messenger, Montreal Joseph Chalu,
Dolphis Seguin, J. Carriere, M. LeBrun, Wm. Pouliotte of
(ON) and two unidentified.
Badly injured were G.T. Price, fireman, Brockville J.M. Dudley,
engineer, Ottawa and many others (names on file)
No. 7 left Ottawa about 3 am Tuesday, February 9, 1 904, one hour late.
It was given orders to meet No. 8 at Sand Point. When Sand Point was
reached the engineer instead of stopping and pulling his train into the
siding, went ahead.
The night was cold and frosty and the conductor said they didn't know
when Sand Point was reached. The engineer either forgot himself or was
unable to distinguish the siding when he came to it.
The train went on travelling at a rapid rate until at a point a couple
of miles beyond Sand Point it ran on the time of the down express
having the right of way. It was a frosty morning - the mercury away
down below Zero - causing the atmosphere to be filled with vapour.
While the windows were frosted or beclouded with steam and as a result
the engineers couldn't see far ahead. A minute or two later the crash
came (about 5 am). Hero that he was, Engineer Jackson shut off the
steam and applied the brakes -an act which did much to reduce the
momentum of the train and lessen the number of fatalities. The impact
was awful but it was particularly No. 7 the up train that suffered.
Nearly all the cars save the rear one, were more or less smashed though
they stayed on the track space with the engines locked tightly together
and badly demolished at that. Beneath the ruins were the mail, express
and train hands and a considerable passenger list, largely composed,
however of those travelling on No. 7. Many were wedged down and unable
to extricate themselves.
On No. 8 the passengers fared much better but three being killed while
the occupants of the rear cars were so fortunate as to escape with a
No. 7 was made up of the locomotive, a baggage car, a mail car, two
second class cars, one first class and a sleeper.
Engineer Jackson on No. 8 was looking for the siding at Sand Point when
he saw the headlight of No. 7 approaching. He applied the brakes and
reduced the speed of his train. To this is attributed the fact that No.
8 escaped with a lighter death list and smaller damage to railroad
stock. Jackson stuck to his post according to Father Paradis, a
passenger, who was one of the heros of the post crash, and was killed
instantly. The wreckage of the locomotive and cars were piled high
above him and "we could only see his hand" the priest said.
The locomotive of No. 7 mounted the locomotive of No. 8. The tender of
the westbound train was thrown on top of the baggage car of the
eastbound train and the baggage, the express and the second class cars
followed suit and piled on top of the eastbound locomotive. It was in
this mix up that the list of casualties was greeted. It was a fortunate
thing that the wreck did not take fire as the lamps in the wrecked cars
made this possible according to Father Paradis.
It was dark and intensely cold (-30 degree F). Some of the injured
froze to death before they could be rescued even though fires were lit
A hospital train was sent from Ottawa to transport the injured to that
city. Wrecking crews were dispatched.
Most of the passengers on the two trains were shantymen, hired by the
lumber companies in Ottawa, going to or coming from the shanties west
of Pembroke and beyond."
Well, that's it. Seems to me that newspaper reports are no better (or
worse) today than they were a century ago. I can't help but wonder why
Mrs. Jamieson kept this old newspaper clipping and photograph. Did she
know someone on either of the two trains? Or was an accident like this
such a momentous event in the little community that one kept clippings
of these sort of goings-on?
When I railroaded as a CP fireman on transcontinental passenger trains
on the Chalk River sub. which passed through Sand Point, many years
later, on Hudson and heavy Pacific locomotives, I never gave much
thought to "cornfield meets" with other trains, and during my time
there was lots of traffic on that busy main line. No doubt train
dispatching and signal systems had improved in the intervening years. I
always enjoyed working on the Chalk River sub. - it was a place for
My thanks to Mr. Jamieson for sending in this historical gem of a
flashback to another time in the annals of Canadian railroading, and to
my old colleague, Doug Chalmers, for providing Mr. Jamieson with the
Bytown Railway Society's magazine, Branchline.