Details of Railway Accidents in the Ottawa Area



1963 April 17 - three locomotives and 27 cars derailed when a CN train hits a bread truck at Portage du Fort, Beachburg subdivision
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This account by Dave McCurdy

Story by Bob Rupert, Citizen staff writer. 
 
PORTAGE DU FORT --
 
 'Thousands of gallons of highly-volatile naptha gas was filling up ditches and spreading over a wide area here following a spectacular train-truck collision early this morning.
'Police and railway officials describe the situation as dangerous.
'Three cars of gas were among 27 cars derailed when a westbound CNR freight and a transport trailer truck crashed near the station here.  Portage du Fort is 65 miles northwest of Ottawa.

'Only takes a spark
'Some 200 spectators have been forced back by police who are attempting to cordon off the area.  There is no immediate danger to Portage du Fort, a mile and a half away.
'However, an offical said: "It only takes a spark to set it off."
'The train was also carrying explosives as well as the gas, but there was no fire or explosion despite the fact all the derailed cars were strewn on both sides of the track, some completely overturned and others left balancing on their ends.  Three diesel engines were thrown on their sides.

'Three in hospital
'Three of the train crew, engineers Bill Callan and Edward Rock, both of Ottawa, and a brakeman, Raymond V. Markle, 45, of 108 Minnetonka Road, Ottawa, were injured and are in Pontiac Community Hospital in Shawville.
'None of the injuries are reported as serious.
'Driver of the tractor-trailer truck, Rosaire Cantin, 45, of 2648 Clarenda Street,. Ottawa, escaped unharmed.  The truck's trailer was sliced into six pieces.
'Owned by Morrison-Lamothe bakery, the transport was hauling 800 loaves of bread which were strewn over a wide area.
'The freight train was also loaded with heavy construction equipment. including iron pipes and chemical tanks.
'For a time, railway and police officials feared for a large crowd that had garhered at the scene.  "One spark and the whole thing would have gone up." one workman said.
'The crowd was pushed back and the dangerous cars isolated.
'The accident happaned at 7:30 a.m. as the northbound truck headed along the Portage-Bryson highway.  The train was westbound.
'The conductor, Ernest Beddington, 38, of 98 Nicolet Street, Hull, riding in the caboose, was not injured.
'Two of the four men involved in the wreck have been released from Pontiac Community Hospital.
'Still hospitalized are Bill Callan, 53-year-old chief engineer who lives at 44 Havelock Street, Ottawa, and fireman Eddy Rock, 52 of 66 St. Francis Street, Ottawa.   
'Mr. Callan, who may have a fractured thumb, said the train was travelling about 49 m.p.h. when it struck the truck. He said that he saw a flash ahead (probably the aluminum trailer) and hit the emergency brake.
''"It's a peculiar feeling when you know you are going somewhere, but don't know where you will end up.  I thought my fireman was dead when I was him.  He and the brakeman were lying right on top of me after the train turned over on its side.   
 
 'Railway line cleared
 
PORTAGE DU FORT (Special) -
'The main line of the Canadian National Railway at Portage du Fort, 35 miles southeast of Pembroke, opened again for normal traffic at noon FRIDAY. 
'Work crews and security guards were kept busy thoughout the day and night THURSDAY to clear 27 freight cars and three diesel engines off the right-of-way after one of the most spectacular level crossing accidents in the area's history.
'A westbound CNR freight was derailed about 7:30 a.m. Thursday, in a collision with a Morrison-Lamothe tractor-trailer.
'Engineer William Callan of Ottawa has been dischared from the Pontiac Community Hospital in Shawville after X-rays showed no serious injury.  Fireman Edmond Rock, also of Ottawa, is to be dischared Monday.  He suffered multiple bruises.

From the Ottawa Journal  Thursday 11 April 1963

FREIGHT HITSTRUCK
Ottawa Crew Hurt In Derailment
PORTAGE DU PORT
A fast Canadian National Railway freight was derailed here this morning after hitting a transport-trailer unit at a level crossing.
Two men were injured.
The truck driver, 38-year-old Ross Cantin, 2648 Clarenda Street, Ottawa, was left sitting safely behind the steering wheel when the 96-car freight sheared off the trailer unit and scattered it for a distance of 500 feet along the tracks.
Three diesel units rolled over, injuring engineer Bill Cullen and fireman Ed Rock, both of Ottawa.
They are in Shawvllle Hospital not seriously hurt.
Thirty thousand gallons of naptha gas spilled along the right of way which was cordoned off by Quebec Provincial Police.
Bits of the truck body were spread throughout the wreckage of 27 freight cars which piled up behind the ditched diesels.
CNR auxiliary equipment was brought here from Ottawa and Capreol to clear the lines. The wreckage is blockings the main road between here and Campbell's Bay, 12 miles west on Highway 8.
Mr. Cantin is a driver for Morrison-Lamothe.
The truck was loaded with empty metal bread baskets) which were strewn along the highway.
Other crew members on the train were: conductor Ernest Beddlngton,'94 Nicolet Street, Hull, brakemen Raymond Markle, 1089 Minnetonka Road, and Dennis O'Connell. 1219 Kitchener Avenue, both of Ottawa



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Updated 30 March 2018