Details of Railway Accidents in the Ottawa Area



1907, April 13 - Passenger train derailed at Sand Point, Canadian Pacific Chalk River subdivision due to a split rail.  
Engine, tender and mail car passed over dangerous spot, first and second car derailed.  3 injured
.


Ottawa Journal Saturday 13 April 1907

Train for West jumps from tracks.
Three men injured at Sand Point
Accident occurred at station, a little beyond Arnprior, at 4:20 this morning. Five cars on CPR Winnipeg train leave the tracks as result of broken rail.
The injured.- Details not taken
PSuch is the list of injured in a wreck on the CPR at Sand Point at an early hour this morning, in which the early west - bound train figured. It was only a lucky turn of fortune however, which brought the train around the curved embankment leading to the station before it took the leap from the tracks, that a serious wreck was not the result. Had the cars jumped a second or so sooner the whole train would have been drawn over the embankment and plunged into the Ottawa River below. Few if any of the passengers and trainmen would have escaped with their lives.
Cause is uncertain.
Advices received from Sand Point are to the effect that the wreck was caused by a split rail. This seems to be the likely explanation, but officially no cause has yet been ascertained.
It was announced at CPR headquarters in the city this morning that the real cause was not known, but that an investigation would be made at once.
The train was due to pull out of the Union Depot at 1:10 a.m., but it was considerably after that time when the start was made. The train was well filled, mostly with settlers, and men from the West, who had come through from Montreal and points for the East.
A few people got on at the station but the local officials state that most of them were returning from Ottawa to intermediate points in this vicinity. At any rate, no official record is obtainable as to whether any local people figured in the smash.
Scene of the wreck.
Sandpoint is situated 5 miles beyond Arnprior, and therefore about 55 miles from Ottawa. At that point there is a curve in the track, bending in at the station, and then bending out again somewhat in the shape of an S. The train had pulled around the first curve and was just getting into the station when the wreck occurred. Luckily for all on board, they had pulled safely pass the danger point, where the embankment overhangs the river, and any deviation from the tracks would have meant instant death for practically everyone.
Those on board are certain that a defective rail must have been the cause. The engine, the tender and the mail car had got over the dangerous part, when the first of the second-class cars jumped the rails. Four others followed suit and breaking away from the rest of the train in front and behind plunged along the tracks. Of the five cars, three were second - class, one a tourist and one a first- class coach.
Luckily the train had eased down on coming around the bend into the station. Otherwise the five coaches would probably have been smashed to kindling-wood. As it was they plunged along for some distance, tearing up a deep furrow, cutting the ties and spreading the rails. After tearing up the gravel for some distance because the cars blocked up and was thrown over against the platform at the station, where they keeled over.
The dining car and theparlour car, both of which were going straight through to Winnipeg, were left on the rails in the rear.
Passengers frightened.
The crash came at 4:20. Most of the passengers were sound asleep in their berths at the time. The suddern crash and shock, followed by the rocking headlong motion of the cars as they plunged from the tracks, awakens the frightened passengers and tumbled them out of their beds.
Pyjama - clad menclung to the first means of support and hung to save themselves, expecting at any moment to feel the cars take the plunge over the embankment. With visions of another Chapleau wreck fresh in their minds, quite a panic prevailed.
Luckily however, the only ones really injured,were the three men in the tourist car - McBride,  Burn and Belanger. The first two named received their injuries in the first shock which hurled them across the car. Strangely enough both sustained injury in the same way, wrenched and perhaps broken ankles being the result. Belanger was badly cut around the face and head. It is supposed that broken glass was responsible for his injury.
None of the men were seriously injured, however, as far as the reports received this morning go to show.
Relief was felt.
As soon as all possible danger was over, the passengers from all the cars turned out into the open. Great relief was felt when it was seen that the wreck was no worse. Many white, scared faces was seen among the crowd, however.
People from Sand Point soon crowded to the scene of the accident and considerable excitement prevailed illegible.
Story of a passenger.
The Journal was notified at an early hour of the occurrence and managed to get one of the passengers to the long-distance 'phone at Sand Point. Mr. E.J. Brownlee of Stittsville is his name. He had boarded the train at Ottawa and was bound for Winnipeg.
He gave a graphic story of the night's exciting occurrences, from the time when they were all tumbled out of bed by the first shock.
"First thing I knew," he said, "I felt myself pitched head first into the side of the car. The coach seemed to have suddenly struck a bumpy incline and we felt ourselves going along rocking from side to side and expecting to be killed at any moment. Then the motion stopped and we all got out as fast as we could go."
"I tell you they were a pretty scared crowd," he continued, "all of them had heard of the wreck the other day and that seemed to have got on their nerves." He soon got over the shock however. "The rest of the night was spent by the passengers in the station and in the coaches."
Nearly all immigrants.
A large majority of the people on board were immigrants bound for the homesteads of the West. Most of them were men.
The train was in charge of conductor Aubrey, whose home is in North Bay. The engineer was Mr. T Chapman of this city. None of the train hands were in the cars which left the tracks.
Line was blocked.
The spreading of the rails effectually blocked the main line. There is a siding running near the station, which is used for the passing of through trains in cases of emergency. This also was blocked, however, by the fallen cars and as a result it was impossible for the trains following in the wake to get by. The Soo train was blocked up for some hours. As soon as word have been received at headquarters, two auxiliary trains, manned by wrecking crews, were dispatched to Sand Point one from Ottawa, the other from Chalk River.
The gangs got to work with a will and after a few hours effort had cleared the cars off the rear siding so as to allow the trains to pass through that way.

Ottawa Journal Monday 15 April 1907


Narrow Escape for Passengers
In the Saturday Morning Wreck at Sand Point
If Accident Had Occurred a Few Lengths Above or Below the Station, cars Would Have Rolled to River's Edge
Sand Point. April 15. Providence was certainly kind to the passengers on the C.P.R. transcontinental No. 97, which left the tracks in front of the station here at 4.20 o'clock Saturday morning. A couple of train lengths above or below and the derailed cars must have rolled down a steep embankment to the river's edge, and what would have been the reault is something one does not like to contemplate. As it was, the passengers all escaped without serious injury. A jolt, rude and unexpected, wakened the sleepers, and that was about all the damage done. Only three men required doctor's care, and in these cases the injuries were trifling. G. Belanger, of Montreal, had a cut over his eye which required a couple of stitches. and John McBriide and Charles Burr, of Ihe same city, had each an ankle slightly sprained. None were so injured that they could not mingle with tha crowd which curiously watched the work of the wrecking gang.
Cracked Rail Gave Way,
The accident, which delayed traffic for twelve hours, was caused by a cracked rail giving way. The engine and baggage car passed that danger spot in safety, but when the first tourist car, laden with navvies for work on the railroad near Medicine Hat, and colonists for the West, struck it the crack meant a broken rail. This car was followed by three others with the same class of passengers, and all went bumping along the ties and ploughing up the ground. The break occurred at the eastern end of the station, and the cars which left the track smashed like matches the heavy planking and sleepers of the platform. The greater part of it was carried bodily away in broken pieces and a flying plank smashed a hole clear through the waiting room wall.  The train is not scheduled to stop at this station, and the derailed trucks ploughed through the soil with the cars tilting ever more and more until the strain on the coupling was too much and between the baggage car and the passenger cars off it snapped and the released engine and baggage car sped ahead free. The balance of the train stopped dead with a jerk. Behind the four colonist cars were a first-class coach, a dining car and a sleeper. None of these lost their level, the coach being the only one to pass the break in the rail.
Wild scramble at first.
In the cars off the track and tipped at such a dangerous angle there was at first a wild scramble, but as no danger seemed imminent this soon subsided. Some broke their way through the windows, but the greater part left by the doors, disagreeably wakened, but glad to be safe.
Word of the wreck was at once wired to headquarters and from Carleton Junction and Chalk River wrecking trains were soon on the way. Between seven and eight o'clock the wrecking gangs were at work. A gang was at hand to help those who had been employed laying new steels. Eighty-pound rails were replacing the present lighter ones, and in a couple of days Sand Point would have been reached and the defective rail would have been taken out before it had signalized its retirement from duty by such an expensive act to the C.P.R. About 8 o'clock Mr. H.B. Spencer, superintendent of the division, arrived and took charge of the operations. General Superintendent Zimmerman, of Montreal and Trainmaster D. Robertson, and other Ottawa officials arrived to see what could be done. On the special came also Doctors Mayberry and Kidd, of Ottawa, whose services fortunately were required only for minor injuries, which took them but little time.
A Temporary Track
The rear cars were pulled back into a siding and then the under structure of those derailed which projected was removed and the workmen set at once to building a temporary track around the wreck. This, however, was not accomplished until 4 o'clock in the afternoon and then the train, so inauspiciously stopped, was made up and attached to the Soo train, which had been waiting since early morning to get by for the west. With two engines coupled to the 14 cars the long train puffed pantingly forth on the interrupted journey and traffic was once again open. But all day yesterday the work of getting the dreailed coaches on the track and repairing the main line went busily on.
An Eye Witness
Probably the only eye witness of the accident was Mr. James Stewart, who lives close by the station. As every patriotic citizen Mr. Stewart is interested in the immigrants to Canada. "I got up early," he said, "to see the size of the train as I understood it was to be entirely for immigrants. I was walking from my house when I heard a ripping crash and then the cars ploughed through the ground. The noise was tremendous. The passenger coaches in front I could see tipping over and then the coupling broke and the engine and baggage car went ahead like a shot.
"Some of the passengers broke through the window and got out, but in a little the most came out by the doors. After the first excitement they seemed to cool down, for some were still sitting in their seats when others came to see the trouble."
Superintendent Speaks
Mr. H.B. Spencer was greatly pleased that there had been neither loss of life nor serious injury, though regretting greatly that the accident had happened at all. "So far as our investigation goes the trouble was caused by a broken rail," he said a couple of hours after his arrival. "Nobody was hurt at all seriously and those who were slightly injured are able to get around already. While very sorry that such an accident should happen, I am not worrying nearly so much  as I would if if any lives had been lost. Wrecking trains were sent at once from east and west and we will work right through Sunday to get the cars on the rails and the track repaired."
Immigrants Cheerful
The laborers and immigrants all took the accident in cheerful mood when it was found no one was hurt. They were good humored, although it rained during part of the day. and watched operations with interest. One old country man named D. Williamson took the delay very philosophically. "It sure was a big shock," he said, "but we were lucky it didn't happen lower down. One good thing the company stood us a good meal," he concluded with evident satisfaction.
Mr. J.D. Dixon, also from Merry England, was congratulating himself that he had left the upper bunk an hour before the wreck happened. He had examined the rail which gave way and was satisfied from its appearance that it had been cracked some time.
Another man was both surprised and indignant at the abrupt termination to the journey.
"H'ive been on the sea an' had to tike to the small boats, but such a thing as bein' stuck tight in such a blarsted way hi never see," he commented wrathfully.

Return to Main Page of Railway Accidents



Updated 14 August 2018