Details of Railway Accidents in the Ottawa Area

1947, August 10 - CN train no. 15 roars around the sharp curve at Kingston station and the engine tips over.  
Engineer and fireman killed, minor injuries among the passengers and spectators

Photo from Bytown Railway Society Archives courtesy Doug Wilson

From the Ottawa Citizen, 11 August 1947.

Many Ottawans unhurt in wreck at Kingston
More than 500 Ottawa and district residents and visitors to the Capital narrowly escaped injury in an early Sunday evening train wreck at Kingston in which two CNR employees were scalded to death another one injured and a crowd of would-be passengers and spectators driven to panic when steam from the wrecked locomotive swept over the CNR station.
The dead are:
B.B. Embury of Lindsay Ont., engineer of the 5100 (sic) class locomotive (it was actually CNR No. 5702) which tore 200 feet of double track as it leaped from a wide rail curve at the station, and.
C.E. White, of Belleville, Ont., fireman in the locomotive.
Brockville man hurt
The injured included Benjamin Shiers of Brockville, baggageman who ws treated at the Kingston General hospital for an injured left shoulder and left leg. Albert Martin of Toronto, a cook on the train, was treated for a fractured right hand.
Dozens of other persons standing on the platform, received bruises and other injuries when the crowd became panicky and ran from clouds of escaping steam from the wrecked locomotive.
Eye-witnesses stated that as it neared the station, the locomotive seemed to e travelling at between 60 and 80 miles an hour and moving on a wide curve of rail, the locomotive, its whistle screaming a continual warning - drove over the track. The locomotive and tender turned over on its left side, tossing lumps of coal over a 300-foot area. Pinned in the smashed locomotive, both engineer and fireman were scalded to death when steam broke through from the boiler and swept over the CNR station platform.
Cars were derailed
As the locomotive tore over the track, seven passenger cars plus the baggage car were derailed. Another four passenger cars at the rear remained standing on the track. None of the passengers was injured.
It was more than four hours before the travellers proceeding to points west of Kingston were able to leave the Kingston station. The Kingston train due to arrive at the Union Station here at 10 o'clock standard time last night was delayed an hour.
The passengers were made up mostly of Ottawa and district people returning to their jobs after spending the week-end in the Capital as well as visitors to the Capital and environs returning to their homes.
It was estimated that more than 500 passengers occupied the nine coaches and two parlour cars which sped out of Brockville shortly after five o'clock. Usually waiting for the second section of the Montreal pool train, the cars had been hooked together for a special run because of the "unusually large number of people from Ottawa" who were proceeding to points west of Kingston.
In less than 20 minutes after the wreck at 6.32 o'clock, a crowd estimated at between five and seven thousand people had flocked to the small Kingston CNR railway station. The floor of the station was covered by a two-inch layer of water as the live steam cooled.
Railway officials would not venture a cause of the wreck.  It was believed that it might have been caused by a broken rail or mechanical defect in the locomotive. Spectators stated that the scream of the whistle could be heard even as the train neared the station at its continuing high speed.
Knocked over Tower
A Canadian Press dispatch stated that the locomotive was rounding the curve just east of the station when it left the rails, knocking over a watertower and plowing along on its side until it came to rest on the Kingston station platform.
Rush of Inquiries
At a late hour last night the "mystery" of the "60 to 80 miles per hour" at which the train was alleged to be speeding as it approached the station was still unexplained.
All the passengers, although jolted by the sudden stop, remained calm. They did not dismount until told to do so.  All were able to proceed on their journey in a train made up of the four cars which remained on the track plus another four cars brought up from Brockville. The delay was said to be more than four hours.
A wrecker was brought from Belleville shortly after 11 o'clock and began the all-night task of clearing the wreckage.
News about the crash was frantically sought by many Ottawa residents who telephoned The Citizen newsroom throughout the evening. Others telephoned to state that they had heard from friends and relatives who had boarded the train here at 3.30 o'clock Sunday evening. The Bell Telephone operators reported that a steady stream of long distance calls were being made to and from Kingston.
C.R. Turner, who was returning to his work at Toronto with his wife, telephoned his parents at Woodroffe to state that they were not injured and were continung to Toronto.
Robert Edelstein, manufacturers' agent of 132 Marlborough avenue, who was on the train with his son, reported that they had both escaped injury except for shock. Mr. Edelstein told relatives in Ottawa that the train, insteas of slowing was speeding at 60 miles an hour.
Dishes tossed in diner
Incidents in the wrecked train which brought death to two men, were recounted to The Citizen last night. "Dishes flew all over the diner" was one report. "The babies seemed to have enjoyed it. They did not cry," was another.
"There was no screaming or panic" said The Citizen correspondent at Kingston who had walked through the cars immediately after the wreck. "The women especially seemed to be exhausted but they did not move from their seats."
Although at first driven to panic by the live steam which swept towards them, spectators at the CNR station, who, it was reported.ran into each other to avoid the steam, later re-gathered at the scene of the wreck.
"You couldn't get near the station with a taxi," said one report.
"The entire city must have turned out.I bet there was at least 7,000 people there."
The Kingston police force were able to cope with the crowd.
"We must have been doing better than 60 miles an hour when we were wrecked," estimated Clarence Best of Toronto, dining car waiter on the train.
"I think there must have been some mechanical trouble or something because before we came to the turn I could hear the conductor and enginer signalling back and forth on the cord."
Best was in the pantry and was thrown to the floor by the derailment. He was not injured.
Five persons received first-aid treatment but were not admitted to hospital.
Pierette J. Hamelin was standing on the platform and bruised her knee when dashing out of the path of the locomotive.
Miss Zita Howard of Toronto was treated for knee abrasions. She was also on the platform at the time.

From the Ottawa Journal  Wednesday 13  August 1947

Post-Mortem Shows Enginemen Not Dead Before CNR Wreck
Kingston Ont., Aug. 13 (CP)
Asphyxiation by steam and severe burns caused the deaths of the engineer and fireman of the CNR train which jumped the track and turned over here Sunday night, it was shown Tuesday in a post-mortem.
There was no evidence to suggest that either of the men - Engineer Baird Embury and Fireman Charles Henry White, both of Belleville, Ont., died before the accident occurred, Dr. G. C Lindsay, coroner, said.
His statement squelched rumors that the engineer had died of a heart attack just before the engine of the Ottawa-Toronto train went out of control while travelling at fast speed on the curve entering Kingston station.
No date for the inquest into the accident has been set.
Latest theory on the possible cause of the derailment is that the throttle seized, making it impossible to reduce speed. This suggestion followed the report of an observer who said he noticed the engineer working "frantically" with levers as the train passed before arriving at the station.

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Updated 26 March 2018