Details of Railway Accidents in the Ottawa Area



1922, January 21 - Derailment at Ellwood, Canadian Pacific Prescott subdivision




From the Ottawa Journal Monday 23 January 1922

ENGINEER DEAD, SCORE HURT IN WRECK ON C.P.R.
Local on Way from Prescott to Ottawa Derailed With Fatal Results
ENGINE AND FOUR CARS  DITCHED NEARING CITY.
One man, Engineer Holland Edward White, of Prescott, was killed and 21 persons were injured, many only slightly, when the C.P.R. Prescott to Ottawa  local was derailed near Ellwood, five miles south of Ottawa, at 4.35 Saturday afternoon. The engine, tender, baggage and mail cars and two passenger coaches plunged down a 15 foot embankment and Engineer White died with his hand on the throttle. Six people were among the injured. A defective rail caused the wreck.
The following are among the casualties
Details omitted
Broken rail the cause
A broken rail caused the wreck of the train according to an official statement issued by Divisional Superintendent H.B. Spencer of the local office C.P.R last night. The statement was issued  after a thorough investigation of the scene of the accident. Mr. A. Price, General Manager of Eastern Lines, who along with some assistants left Montreal on the first train after receipt of the news of the accident and arrived in Ottawa at 11.15 Saturday night. They left at once on a special car and made a thorough examination into the wreck.
Official statement
The statement follows:
"At 4.35 p.m. Saturday, January 21, C.P.R. train Number 553 Prescott to Ottawa, was derailed about five miles south of Ottawa. The train consisted of engine, mail and express baggage car and three coaches. The train was in charge of Engineer H. White and Conductor John Young. The engine turned over and Engineer White was killed. Fireman George Ellioy and Dominion Express employee Arthur Naud were slightly injured. There were also six passengers who were taken to the St. Lukes and Water Street hospitals. They were all reported on Sunday as doing well their injuries not being of a serious nature. Several other passengers were injured but did not require hospital treatment. Relief train with doctors and nurses was immediately despatched from Ottawa and passengers were soon brought in. Mr. A. Price, General Manager of Eastern Lines, immediately proceeded to the scene of the accident from Montreal and thorough investigation shows that a broken rail was the cause of the accident."
Mr. Price Discusses Causes
Mr. Alfred Price, General Manager, Canadian Pacific Railway, eastern lines, Montreal accompanied by Mr. J.E. Armstrong, assistant chief engineer and Mr. A.N. MacKenzie, maintenance of way engineer, arrived in Ottawa from Montreal at 11.15 Saturday night and at once proceeded to the scene of the wreck. After investigation Mr. Price gave out the following statement to The Journal.
"The cause of the wreck could not be ascertained until daylight when we found that a hidden defect in one rail had caused it to break under pressure. The engine was the first to leave the rails and travelled some distance on the hard smooth roadbed before it toppled over into the ditch.
"The train could not have been travelling at a high rate of speed as it was too close to a switch and to Ellwood station. It was going at about 25 miles per hour. The equipment is not badly damaged. All of the working parts of the engine are in order which removed any possibility of the accident having been caused from this quarter. There was no evidence of a spread of rails having caused the accident.
"We will attribute the wreck to one of those unaccountable defects for which we can blame nobody and which we are unable to explain in an altogether satisfactory manner. Cold weather often has a bad effect on steel and causes it to become very brittle."
The Heroic Engineer
"Jump for your life," cried Engineer White to Fireman Elliott as he felt his engine wheels leave the track about a quarter of a mile south of Ellwood (formerly Chaudiere) Junction. Elliiott leaped from his cab and fell bruised in the ditch on the left hand side of the embankment. White applied the brakes. The engine bumped along the ties pulling the rest of the train consisting of the mail and baggage cars and a second and two first class cars as they swayed along the ties for 500 feet. Then the engine and tender veered to the right, plunged down the steep 15 foot embankment. With a hiss of escaping steam it turned a somersault and imprisoned the faithful engineer in his cab. He was instantly killed.
The baggage car followed the engine and fell on the side while the mail coach shoved its nose in the ditch but stood up.  The two rear first class coaches in the meanwhile lurched over on the left hand side of the embankment and toppled on their sides. The second class coach and smoker which came immediately behind the mail coach did not leave the roadbed.
Although there were 175 passengers on board, it is marvellous that only 21 were injured and most of these but slightly.
That the second class coach didn't follow other coaches in their headlong fall into the ditch is due to the quick action of brakeman John Riordan.
Brakeman saves One car
He was in the vestibule of the second class coach when he felt the wheels on the ties. He immediately applied the brakes. This quick action, no doubt, saved many lives, as there were 80 passengers in this coach.
The accident occurred with such suddenness that few passengers realized their great danger. The train was going between 25 and 30 miles an hour.  The passengers were a jolly crowd, many coming here on a visit and others homeward bound. The tall spires of the city churches and towers of Parliament Buildings shining in the late afternoon sun were a welcome sight to the passengers on that high ground as they prepared to put on their wraps and get their grips ready when the wreck occurred.
On the train were Sister mary Clement, Mother General of the House of Providence, Kingston and Sister Mary Charles, also of Kingston, coming to Ottawa to attend the funeral on Tuesday of Archbishop Gauthier.
The news spread quickly throughout the city, and when the special relief train brought in the injured and other passengers at 7 o'clock there was an enormous crowd of anxious watchers and friends at Union Station.
Holland Edward White, the brave engineer who lost his life with his hand on the throttle, was 47 years old.  He leaves a wife and seven children, the oldest of whom is 18 and the youngets four, at his home in Prescott, where he had gone from here a year and a half ago. He was affectionately known as "Holly" among his fellow workers. He was a member of  the I.O.O.F. and the B. of L.E. His father-in-law is Mr. Alex Roger, a retired engineer of Westboro.
Came Suddenly
The derailment came with such suddenness that no one had a clear recollection of what had happened. The train was travelling about 30 miles an hour about half a mile south of Ellwood station. A horrifying scraping and grinding of metal parts was the first warning the passengers had. Then came a nerve-racking bumping, followed immediately by the coaches being toppled into the ditches on either side of the track. For several minutes there was a confusing tangle of passengers. Those sitting on the right side of the coaches were hurled to the opposite side and on the came a shower of hand baggage, parcels, seat cushions and debris of the coaches. For a brief period following the derailment there was a stillness that was most depressing to those who had fortunately been in the smoking car which did not leave the sleepers. Suddenly the air was pierced by a woman's cry, which was followed, in rapid succession by many others.
The rescue work was soon commenced and the train crew was augmented by many men, including members of the Perth hockey team. The women and children were exrticaed first and then the male passengers were taken out. Brakeman Riordan ran to Ellwood, where he reported the accident and was advised that a rescue train would be made up and sent to the scene with the utmost despatch. Within an hour all the passengers had received medical assistance and had been placed in the relief train.
The scene at the wreck was terrible. Nearly 500 feet of track had been torn up and the marks of the wheels on the snow covered ties were quite plain. At first it had been thought that a spread of rail was the cause of the disaster. Close examination brought out the fact that the wreck was due to a defective rail.
Suerintendent Spencer, who was early on the scene, made an investigation soon after arrival. Owing to darkness no positive conclusion could be reached, but the officials at that time were more concerned over comfort of the passengers.
30 Miles an Hour
As far as could be ascertained, the local was travelling at from 25 to 30 miles an hour, and as the train was on time, there was no need for exceeding the normal rate of speed. The part of the rail that was defective could be seen Saturday night. The pressure of weight from the heavy engine apparently caused it to "buckle"and derail the engine and five cars. The train dashed along the ties for about 300 feet until it stopped, when the engine left the tracks and  and stopped at the bottom of the embankment turned upside down. The baggage car, immediately behind the tender, followed into the ditch, landing on one side. The front end of the mail car became foul of rthe rear of the baggage car, but did not fall on oe side. The smoker remained on the ties, and the occupants,although somewhat shaken up, rushed out of the coach.
The two first class coaches at the rear lurched to the opposite side of the track and toppled down the 15-foot embankment coming to a stop in the ditch. The smoking car was on a high culvert and, if it had been precipitated to either side there would have been a perpendicular drop of at least 15 feet to a small creek. There would probably have been a heavy casualty list as this coach had about 80 passengers in it.
The scene at night when the wrecking crew was busy clearing the line was memorable. The damaged area was brightly lighted by white, red and greenish colored flares. On the left, as one faced Ottawa, two heavy coaches were resting on one side. The windows had been smashed in and the doors wrenched from their hinges. On the right the mail and baggage cars were aso in the ditch, and immediately  ahead was the overturned engine and tender.The ony part of the locomotive visible from the tracks were the wheels, while the cab, smokestack and other parts on the top of the engine were buried in the ditch. As soon as possible trainmen attacked the buried cab and tenderly took out the body of their fellow-workman, Engineer White, who had died while faithfully performing his duties.
Died a Hero
Engineer White died a hero. When the defective rail broke under the weight of the engine, Mr. White sensed the danger and immediately endeavoured to stop the train and save the lives of the passengers. At the same time he shouted to his companion, Fireman George Elliott, of Prescott, "Jump for your life". Elliott followed his superior's instructions and saved his life. The engineer remainedin the cab and when the heavy lovomotive somersaulted down the incline, he was imprisoned at his post. The escaping live coal and steam instantly killed the heroic engineer.
While all the members of the crew did everything humanly possible to avert the disaster, the efforts of brakeman John Riordon, of Prescott were an outstanding value. He happened to be in the vestibule of the second class smoking coach when he felt the shock of the derailment. Riordon jammed on the emergency brakes and rapid action caused the secomd class coach to stay upright.
The train is officiallyu known as No. 553 and makes a round trip from Prescott to Ottawa daily. At Bedell, many passengers from Montreal and Toronto trains. Who were on route to Ottawa, were taken on.
Hockey Teams Aboard
The Smiths Falls and Perth hockey teams, which were scheduled to play Victorias and Munitions, respectively in the Rideau group at the Rideau rink Saturday night, were on the train. The Perth hockeyists went into the smoker, but the Smiths Falls team would not join their rivals and entered a first class coach. The medicine town youths, although shaken up, were able to fill their engagement at the rink, but the Smiths Falls team was crippled through injuried received by Charlebois and naud, their regular defence players. The latter is an employee of the Dominion Express Company.
The wrecking crews from Ottawa and Smiths Falls worked from both ends of the wreck. The track was repaired and two coaches had been raised at 8 o'clock Sunday morning. The heavy sniowstorm was a serious handicpa, and Superintendent Spencer decided to halt operations until thi smorning.  The baggage cars and engine will be raised to the tracks sometime today, but ordinary traffic was given the right of way.
Relief Train
Within the remarkably short period of 32 minutes after word was received in Ottawa of the wreck, Mr. H.B. Spencer, divisional superintendent of the C.P.R in Ottawa, was on the scene with relief and hospital train and a staff of doctors and nurses. Owing to the somewhat isolated location of the wreck it was not until 5.07 that Mr. Spencer, who was at his house, was notified.
Realizing at once the necessity of quick action Mr. Spencer phoned Broad street yard officials to have his private car and a relief train ready within 15 minutes and then took a taxi to the station. Doctors J.F. Kidd, H.B. Moffat, W.E. Cavan and D.T. Smith were communicated with and tod to come at once to the C.P.R. Broad street yard and bring a nurse.
Mr. Spencer was ready to pull out at 5.30 but was forced to wait five mimnutes for the medical men to arrive. The relief train in charge of Conductor J. Crawford and Engineer H. Matthews, pulled out at 5.35 on its errand of mercy and, travelling at 45 miles an hour, the whole party reached the scene of the wreck at 5.45, exactly 3 1/2 minutes after the news reached Mr. Spencer.
The doctors and nurse at once commenced work among the injured and for almost an hour they were busy applying bandages and helping the wounded. Those who were injured had been gathered in the second class coach which remained upright. Stretchers and large quantities of medical supplies and warm blankets formed part of the equipment of Mr. Spencer's private car and everything possible was done to ease the suffering of the other passengers.
After everything possible had been done for the wounded they were transferred on stretchers to the relief train and with the uninjured passengers were brought into Union Station where nurses and ambulances were ready. The relief train arrived in Ottawa just two hours after the schedule time for the Prescott train. It was composed of three coaches and a baggage car.
Working All Night
Mr. Spencer';s private car remained on a siding all night and was the temporary headquarters for all work. A wire was at once strung and within an hour of his arrival Mr. Spencer was in communicatin with President Beatty of the C.P.R.in Montreal, and gave him a private report on the wreck. Instructions were then given for a wrecking train to proceed from Smiths Falls so that all night long huge wrecking trains were at work north and south of the wreck removing debris and clearing the right-of-way. Two cars were rerailed.
An auxiliary train from Ottawa also left about six o'clock, in charge of Conductor J. Kelley and Engineer Geo. Dupuis.
"Our first care was for the injured and not until we had taken care of them did we commence the work of salvaging the property and clearing the track," said an official of the C.P.R.
There as very little confusion as the result ot the wreck, and only two trains were delayed behind schedule time in their arrivals and departures from Ottawa. One was the incoming train from Toronto, due at 9.30 and which was 25 minutes late, and the other was the Prescott local which leaves Ottawa at 5.25 but which was detained to 8.00 o'clock
News of the wreck reached St. Luke's Hospital at 5.35, and steps were immediately taken to accommodate the cases. Mr. Fred taylor, the superintendent, kept the whole day staff to handle the sufferers, not knowing whether there would ne a few or a hundred. Although the hospital was already full of patients, the authorities were ready to put a number of cots in the hallways for the slightly injured cases, and if necessary, to move out minor cases of illness. Drs. J.F. Kidd, H.B. Moffatt and W.E. Craven. Who had gone to the scene of the accident accompanied the first patients to the hospital.
At 7.30 the first accident cases began arriving in Wodburn'sand Burney's ambulances. For a while the scene reminded the overseas nburses in the hospital of war hospital days when strings of ambulances delivered their freight of human wreckage after a big "drive". Everyone at the hospital was readyu for the cases, and the seriously injured were pkaced in beds. The minor cases were taken straight to the X-ray room, where pkates were made of their injuries, and then they were allowed to go to their resopective destinations after first aid had been administered. By 10.30 the injuries of every person who had been brought to the hospital had been examined. The X-ray room staff worked nearly all night developing plates.
As news of the accident spread through the city, hudreds of enquireies were received at the hospital. Relatives and friends of the injured were given free access to the hospital and every assistance was given them to converse with the injured patients. The efficient manner in which the hospital authorities handled the cases drew many favorable comments both from patients and their friends,
J.M. Flett, of Perth, secretary of the Rideau Hockey league, recceived slight injuries to his right hio, and after treatment at St. Luke's Hospital was able to attend the game between Perth amd Munitions. To a Journal reporter he said that the accident was so sudden that noone knew where he was for a moment. He was seated in one of the rear coaches talking to two of his fellow hockey fans when the accident happened. First there were a few bumps, apparently caused by the coach riding the ties, then the coach lurched to the left and fell on its side. He was thrown violently against the forward seat and about six other passengers fell on top of him.
Everything quiet
One of the facts that impressed him most forcibly was the deathl-like stillness which followed. Everything was so quiet you could almost hear a pin drop in the coach, he said. The sound of escaping steam from the engine could be plainly heard. The tension was relieved when a woman cried out. Then cries, groans and shouts filled the air.
The hockey players and fans who were in the second-class coach and smoker, which remained on the embankment, and who were not injured went to the rescue of their less fortunate brother passengers.
More on p 15

From the Chesterville Record Thursday 26 January 1922.


"Jump for your life" cried Engineer White to Fireman Elliott as he felt his engine wheels leave the track about a quarter of a mile south of Ellwood (formerly Chaudiere Junction about five miles from Ottawa) at 4.35 Saturday afternoon.  Elliott leapt from his cab and fell bruised in the ditch on the left hand side of the embankment.  White applied the brakes. The engine bumped along on the ties pulling the rest of the train consisting of the mail and baggage cars and a second and two first class cars as they swayed along the ties for 500 feet.  Then the engine and tender veered to the right, plunged down the steep 15 foot embankment with a hiss of escaping steam it turned a somersault and imprisoned the faithful engineer in his cab.  He was instantly killed.

The baggage car followed the engine and fell on the side while the mail coach shoved its nose in the ditch but stood up.  The two rear first class coaches in the meanwhile lurched over on the left hand side of the embankment and toppled on their sides.  The second class coach and smoker, which came immediately behind the mail coach did not leave the embankment.

The accident was due to a defective rail.

Although there were 175 passengers on board it is marvellous that only 15 were injured and most of these but slightly.

That the second class coach didn’t follow the other coaches in their headlong fall into the ditch is due to the quick action of brakeman John Riordan. He was in the vestibule of the second class coach when he felt the wheels on the ties.  He immediately applied the brakes.  This quick action, no doubt, saved many lives, and there were 80 pasengers in this coach.

The official accident report gives the number of injured as 21.

Ottawa Journal  Wednesday 8 Fenruary 1922

JURY UNABLE TO FIND CAUSE OF DERAILMENT
That engineer Holley E. White came to his death through scaldlng by live steam when train No. 553 of the C.P.R. was derailed near Ellwood. on January 24 (sic) was the finding of the jury last night. "We are unable to discover the cause of the derailment," was added to the verdict.
Chief among the witnesses was fireman. Geo. Elliott, of Prescott.  He stated he was thrown out of the engine cab by the lurching of the train. The engine was running along about 30 miles an hour. Previous to this about half a mile before Ellwood Engineer White tried his brake and found them all right. The first indication he had that something was wrong was the jolting of the engine on the ties. He had no theory as to the cause of the derailment.
Other witnesses examined included, Samuel Jeffrey, 86 Preston street, the roadmaster and Harold Amy, 478 Gilmour street, the divisional master mechanic, both of whom testified to the condition of the road and the engine.
 Dr. J. H. Kidd. who examined the engineer, said he came to his death, from scalding.




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