Details of Railway Accidents in the Ottawa Area



1913, June 25 - Derailment of a Canadian Pacific passenger train at McKellar near Ottawa.





A Winnipeg bound Canadian Pacific passenger train, the Imperial Limited, was derailed at McKellar (Westboro), near Britannia, on the Carleton Place subdivision.  Eleven people were killed and 40 were injured in this accident which was caused when a track crew had not completed repairs.  Three colonist, one first class, one tourist and one dining car were derailed, several lying close to the Ottawa River.  All the dead and practically all the injured were immigrants, principally from the British isles.


LAC PA 206027


LAC PA 25111 Samuel Jarvis collection

Ottawa Journal Thursday 26 June 1913

Saw Train Wrecked; Tells Thrilling Story of the Scenes After the Crash
Westboro Resident was Watching Express from Electric Car
Four Coaches Suddenly Jumped Outwards Into the River - Terrible Scenes Immediately Followed.
Mr. H. Hill, of Westboro, witnessed the wreck. Mr. Hill and his wife had taken a car ride to Britannia. He says: "Returning, when near McKellar Townsite, between McKellar homestead and Mason's mill. I noticed the train coming. Two track-layers had just stood aside to allow the train to pass when suddenly four coaches upset. Two fell inwards and two outwards into the Ottawa River.  The two which upset towards the shore side of the tracks fell on the two track men. They must have been killed.
"The engine and first three coaches and the last two did not leave the rails. The engine and first three coaches broke away from the wreck and went forward. Then the last coach of the three broke loose again from the engine and front two cars. The last two coaches stood on the track. They did not telescope. Two of the cars, the ones which fell inwards, buckled and fell nearly lengthwise. We got one man out from right underneath one of these cars. His chest was badly mangled and he died immediately afterward without gaining consciousness.
Cars in Water
"The cars in the river were only half submerged and when the rescue party arrived we broke in the windows and commenced to pull out the people in these cars'"
"Some of the dead came from these cars. Whether they were pinned down and drowned in that way, I do not know. They may have been stunned and drowned in this manner.
The first people we took out of the cars on the bank were a man and a boy with their hands badly injured. They were placed in the ambulance and hurried to the hospital. The first doctors to arrive on the scene were Dr. I.G. Smith and Dr. Kidd.
We took a Salvation Army girl out of the first coach to go into the water. She was uninjured and was taken to the Salvation Army headquarters in the city. Another old gentleman, his wife and five children were in the last coach to overturn. The old gentleman broke a window and climbed out. They were all uninjured. A girl of about seven years of age and her brother of fifteen years were on their way to Edmonton, to meet their father. They were with their mother and she is as yet unaccounted for. They were taken from a coach which overturned into the water, and the supposition is that their mother was drowned.
"There were quite a number of foreigners, Russians, Scandinavians, and others in the colonist car which overturned into the water.
From what I could see they will be unable to find just how many are in the cars which went into the water until the wrecking crew lift the cars. One of the cars broke of its trucks and fell in the stream nearly turning upside down. It finally lay on is (sic) side.
Old Man's Story
"The old gentleman with the five children told me his experience of this wreck. 'I was standing up', he said, 'when I felt the car going over. After the first shock I braced myself and fell into the corner without any injury. I was merely shaken up. Although it happened in a second it felt as if it took the car half a minute to fall on its side. The Salvation Army girl was thrown violently from one side of the car to the other side of the car but was uninjured.
"The first men on the scene were the section men," continued Mr. Hill "I and some other people in the car ran across the fields to the train, but the section men commenced the work of rescue immediately.
"Two girls who live close to the wreck, the two Misses Barrie, did heroic work in attending to the injured. They carried pails of water and stimulants around to the injured, helped dress wounds and assisted the surgeons.
"Mr. Dunning, who lives close to the scene of the wreck, telephoned to the Chief of Police, also for ambulances and doctors, and it was due to him that ambulances and autos to care for the injured reached the scene of the wreck so quickly. He also provided linen to dress the wounds received by the injured. The first ambulance arrived about 15 or 20 minutes after the wreck had taken place.
"There was a lady and her daughter taken from the first car to turn into the water. The lady's head was badly crushed. Her daughter was uninjured but hysterical.
"The most pathetic incident was that of the two children bound for Edmonton. They searched the faces of each injured person taken from the wreck, looking for their mother.
Rail Torn Up
"Whether the accident was caused by a spreading rail or not I do not know. When I got there one of the rails was turned clear of the ties altogether. I do not know what the section men were doing at that spot but I imagine that they were engaged in laying new ties.
There is no curve at that spot, so I imagine that the track was weakened in some way and that the weight of the engine spread the rail and the swing of the back coaches would strain the weakened track and bulge it to one side. I didn't hear any of the officials discussing the cause of the wreck.
The insides of the cars were very badly wrecked, although the cars themselves were not telescoped. The seats were ripped every way , all torn from the floor. The floors were not turned up, but the sides on which the cars fell were caved in and smashed to splinters. I think that the majority of the people hurt were on the side which fell and that the fall of the heavy seats, torn from their fastenings, caused quite a number of fatalities."

Ottawa Journal 26 June 1913

Over 5,000 visited scene of wreck. Inquiry is ordered.
Enquiry into the cause of fatal wreck ordered injured recovering
Death list now totals 8, and injured sixty-five
CPR will open inquiry tomorrow - woman believe dead is found alive - woman passenger disappears.
The inquest in connection with the tragic wreck of the Imperial Limited at McKellar Township yesterday afternoon was opened by Coroner Dr. Craig at noon today. The jury met at Rogers and Burney's undertaking parlors, Laurier Avenue, and adjournment was made till tomorrow night in the courthouse, Nicholas Street. H.R. Meredith is foreman of the jury.
All that took place today was the formal identification of the body of John Peace, Glasgow, Scotland by his chum, a man named Cutt of the same place. The inquest will be nominally into the death of Peace, but will really concern itself with the whole tragedy and it cause.
Messrs George Hodge, general superintendent, and C Murphy, general superintendent of traffic for the CPR arrived in the city this morning, and the company's inquiry into the circumstances will begin tomorrow at the Broad Street Station. Superintendent Gilliland of the Ottawa - Chalk River division of the CPR on which the accident occurred is here from Smith Falls.
Monetary loss.
Seen by a Journal reporter, Mr. Gilliland denied the report that any section men have been killed, but admitted that section men had been working on the right-of-way in the vicinity of the wreck.
"I don't know how the report that section men had been crushed to death had his origins," he said.
The Montreal - Ottawa division of the CPR over which superintendent Spencer has jurisdiction and responsibility, has its western limit at the end of the Broad Street terminal yards, or about 2 miles east of the place where the derailment happened.
The monetary loss to the company will not be great, according to opinions expressed this morning. While the two cars that went down the embankment into the river are now of practically no value the other two that were twisted into the opposite direction can, according to Mr. Gilliland, be still repaired and used.
Track cleared,
The track was cleared by 6:30 this morning and a great part of the morning was spent in raising the four cars. This will take some time.
There are several changes in the list of fatalities. Mrs. Bunting, of Winnipeg, and her little child were reported this morning to have been among the killed. As a matter of fact they are stopping at the home of Mr. E. Hurry, of Woodroffe. Mrs. Bunting and her four children came through the accident with no very great injury, although the mother has slight injuries about the back.
The body supposed to have been that of Mrs. Bunting proved to be that of Mrs. McClure and Edmonton woman, of about 52 years of age. She was on her way out to Edmonton after a visit. The child found and said at first to be the daughter of Mrs. Bunting is the granddaughter of mrs. McClure. Its mother who escaped from the wreck with only slight injuries is at 131 Lawn Avenue, the home of Mr. John Sarsfield.
Woman disappears.
Strange things can happen at times of great excitement, such as that which prevailed after yesterday's accident, and strange things did. One of the most remarkable was the sprinting away of a woman who had come through the wreck physically unscathed but with her nervous system badly shaken. She was standing beside the cars sobbing her sorrow for the less fortunate friends, when a helpful woman took her, and led her away. Those taking the names of survivors failed to get a record of this woman's identity, and since the accident she has not been heard from. Superintendent Spencer of the CPR is anxious to get in touch with her.
John Donnelly of Glen Island, has left St. Luke's Hospital fully recovered. He was pinned under a seat and nearly drowned.

5,000 carried by O E. R to the wreck scene.
During the afternoon and evening the Ottawa Electric Railway carried about 5,000 passengers out to the wreck. Cars from every service in the city were rushed on to the Britannia line to accommodate the overflow.

Chesterville Record 26 June 1913


Eight dead and fifty injured, two probably fatally, is the toll of the railway accident three miles from Ottawa yesterday afternoon when the CPR train from Montreal for Winnipeg left the track.  All the dead and practically all the injured are immigrants, principally from the British isles.  The cause of the wreck is not known, but it is thought to be either a loose rail or what is known in railway parlance as a "sunkink".
Also reported in Globe and Mail for 26 June 1913.  This was the wreck of the Imperial Limited.
Ottawa Journal 25 June - occurred at Springfield Park near Britannia. Pictures in June 26 edition.



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