Details of Railway Accidents in the Ottawa Area



1951, January 20 - Canadian Pacific, Churchill Avenue, Ottawa.




The Westboro Wreck
By Michael Iveson.

Canadian Pacific Train No. 8, "The Dominion" was better than an hour-and-a-half "off the advertized" on January 20, 1951 when it crested the grade near the suburban Ottawa station of Westboro and struck a coal truck at the Chuchill Avenue crossing, just east of Westboro Station.

The truck driver and his helper, employees of  the nearby Independent Coal and Lumber Company,  were  able to jump clear  of  their vehicle and were uninjured. The train and its crew were not so lucky.

Powered by Royal Hudson No. 2821, the "Dominion" was rolling along at better than 70 mph when the collision occured. Upon impact, the truck was thrown against a switchstand just at the crossing. The force of the blow opened the turnout, diverting the train into the siding of the Cummings Coal Company.

The engine was unable to negotiate the tight curvature of the siding. It derailed and ploughed down the track embankment on its side, coming to rest some 500 feet from where the Westboro transitway station is now located.

The wreckage also included a heavy weight baggage car, a 2200-series coach, a heavy weight diner, and a sleeper. The balance of the train stayed on the rails.

The train's Engineer, Albert Scharf, was trapped in the cab of the 2821, suffering fatal burns. His Fireman, Earl Fergus, miraculously survived, retiring from CP engine service a couple of years ago. In all, some 30 passengers and crew members were injured that day.

The 2821 was hauled out of the mud and snow and rebuilt. Ironically, it was involved in yet another collision - a cornfield meet with sister 2823 on the North Bay Subdivision. She was rebuilt after this incident, and was scrapped in December of 1959.

On a personal note, my mother and I had just waved at the crew of Number 8 as it had passed our home not two minutes before the accident. My father, who worked on Saturday morning in those days, was driving down Churchill Avenue and witnessed the accident. He was one of the first to reach the crew trapped in the cab.

I spent the next few days after the accident watching the equipment being rerailed. After its retrieval, the 2821 was stored on a siding at Westboro Station until it could be shipped to Montreal for repairs.

To this day, as I approach the intersection of Scott Street and Churchill Avenue, I still think of that awful wreck of January 21, 1951.

Bytown Railway Society,, Branchline,March 1987, page 6



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Updated January 2014