Railway Tales in OVAR's Back yard

1 - The First Derailment on the Parry Sound Line

Canada Atlantic/Grand Trunk/Canadian national Railway Bridge Over Preston Street
This Lead to the Chaudiere. CSTM Matt-0743

Believe it or not this is a view looking almost right over where the St. Anthony’s Soccer Club, OVAR’s home, is today. The photographer is looking roughly
north west and standing on the bridge over Preston Street of the former line to Renfrew and Arnprior, now the Queensway. The bridge in the foreground, is
over Preston Street, and it carried the Canada Atlantic/Grand Trunk/Canadian National line to the Chaudiere. At the bottom left is a siding built into the
Export Lumber company. At one time there was a streetcar line down Preston.

The only railway that remains in this area now is the OC Transpo Trillium line which runs in the former CPR trench. There are some interesting railway tales
to be told about our backyard and I will cover some of these from time to time.

The Ottawa, Arnprior and Parry Sound Railway (O.A.P.S) of J.R. Booth opened a line from the Junction with the Chaudiere Line (in the picture) in  September 1893. The O.A.P.S. later became part of the Grand Trunk and ultimately the Canadian National system.

Just over a year after the opening, on Saturday 27 October 1894, the line had its first real accident. The incident was reported in all three Ottawa papers, the
Citizen, the Journal and the Ottawa Free Press.

However, the accident occurred on a Saturday night and, with no Sunday papers, the information gained on the Monday was somewhat dated and subject to
exaggeration. The three accounts differ in many details but the Ottawa Free Press seems the most likely. I have used this as the basis of the story.

“In the annals of the Parry Sound railway Saturday night's accident will be chronicled as the first that has occurred on that line. From information given it appears that a freight and a construction train were backing into the Ottawa yards together near Preston street. The steam having been shut off in the engine of the construction train, the drawbar uniting both became dislodged at one end, and falling, caught in one of the ties. The freight engine continued in motion and as a consequence a merchandise car to which the bar was attached, was raised and canted to one side. The other train, moving up, caught the misplaced car and threw it, as well as three other cattle cars, to the side of the road. In the latter were some 300 head of sheep. As soon as the doors were opened these
scampered out, some of them falling into a pool of water, where they drowned. Eighteen in all were wounded or killed. All Saturday night and part of yesterday the hoisting engine was at work replacing the wrecked cars and last night the road was clear of all obstruction. The total loss will not reach more than $600 and officials consider the company very lucky in view of the nature of the accident.”

The Ottawa Journal added:

“Immediately after the accident a large number of men were set at work on the wreck. They worked all Saturday night and all day Sunday until 5:20 p.m. and succeeded in clearing the track in time to avoid any interference with the ordinary traffic. It was fortunate for the company that the accident happened on Saturday night instead of on a week night.

Two ballast trains coming down the line were delayed beyond Preston St. by the accident until the track was cleared.An immense crowd visited the scene of the accident yesterday. All trains were running OK this morning.”

The number of sheep involved varied from 250 to 600, probably just best to describe it as a large number. It seems the wrecking crew broke open the wooden stock cars in order to clear the line thus liberating a large number of sheep into the area. Eighteen were killed in the accident and all but fifteen were later recovered. However, it was claimed that dead sheep were being sold in the area for 40 cents to a dollar apiece.

So the next time you go to OVAR keep your eyes open for any lost sheep along Preston street.

Ottawa Valley Associated Railroaders  Interchange May 2019

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