Tidbits by Duncan du Fresne, Branchline September 2006
On August 28, 1930, train No. 7 left Ottawa with engine 2217 (4-6-2) on the point. The 2217 was not the regular engine, however, and one of the newer and larger 2300's would normally have been assigned. The engineer was George Clark, and the fireman was John Shouldice. In any event, it seems the trip was going along normally when, approaching Pembroke (mile 93) at about 12:40 A.M., someone had left the east switch of the passing track open and No. 7 went into the passing track at a fair rate of speed and overturned onto the Ottawa River side of the track, but did not roll over into the river. George Clark was seriously injured and scalded in the wreck and John Shouldice was critically injured and scalded and died as a result of those injuries. Interestingly enough, John Shouldice was the fireman on a troop train en route to Petawawa a year earlier, which was wrecked at Sand Point, and he survived that one unscathed! I guess John's luck had run out as he was working on No. 7 as a spare fireman as the regular fireman, Robert Baugh, had booked off.
Two of the heavyweight cars list toward the Ottawa River without even breaking a window. Photo courtesy Lorne Blackburn.
Another interesting point is that back in the 1904 head-on at Sand Point, (see May 2006 Branchline) George Clark, who was a fireman at the time, missed the trip when the head-on took place, and the spare fireman who replaced him was killed in that affair. Train No. 7 at the time of the Pembroke affair went by the name of the "Trans Canada Limited". As near as I can determine 1930 was the last year for this name to be used and by the following year the train was called "The Dominion". That name stuck right until the end, when on January 11, 1966, the last "The Dominion", ever, made its final run from Ottawa to Montreal behind RS-10 8470, with engineer Johnny Gillespie doing the honours.
The all steel Combine on the head end of No. 7 came to rest at quite an angle, but intact. The main line is in the foreground and that's an N-2 class, 3700 series 2-8-0 with the "big hook" in the background. There's little doubt about the mileage on the Chalk River sub., that Combine just about took out the milepost. There was no shortage of on-lookers, the whole town showed up. There was a definite shortage of security forces - can you imagine the Company or the local constabulary allowing that to happen today? Photo courtesy Lorne Blackburn.
Actually there was a third person in the cab of the 2217 that night. He was Basil Watson. I'm not sure if he was even a CP employee or not, but, in any event, he was along for the ride, - a ride that almost killed him, and certainly left him badly injured. According to retired CP locomotive engineer Lome Blackburn, (step) grandson of George Clark, the fact that George had allowed Mr. Watson to ride on the engine, he had contravened Company policy (or rules) or something, and when it came time for George to take his pension that incident came up and adversely affected his pension! I'm not surprised, - Lome wasn't either.
Two more tough heavyweights lean precariously toward the Ottawa River. In the lower right of the photograph is one of the trucks off the tender of the 2217.
One of the very interesting facts about the "affair" in Pembroke is that the cars on No. 7, by 1930, were all of steel construction, unlike those cars involved in the head-on at Sand Point back in 1904. In the 1904 affair, about a dozen people were killed and many others injured as the wood constructed cars "telescoped" into each other and were prone to burning. An examination of the poor quality photograph above, taken the following day at Pembroke, shows what a difference steel construction makes. Only one employee on the train (other than those on the engine) was hurt, although I'm certain the sleeping car passengers got a rude awakening!