The Railways of Ottawa

Finding No. 21   Railway Structures Destroyed (Mainly) by Fire


Ottawa and Prescott Railway Engine House Burned 8 November 1857

Kingston Weekly British Whig 14 November 1857

FIRE AT OTTAWA. The Engine-house of the Ottawa and Prescott Railway, at this end of the line, was early on Sunday last consumed by fire, and a new engine and its tender almost completely destroyed. This engine had been running only a few days on the road, and it is said to have cost about 3,000. We have not heard that the cause of the fire has been satisfactorily ascertained. It is said that the watchman, whose duty it was to look after the building that was burned and its contents, was, at the time the fire broke out, either absent, or asleep. A contemporary contains some very mysterious hints, which would lead it to be supposed that the fire was the work of an incendiary, and that the watchman was guilty of some complicity therewith. - If any substantial ground exist for such a suspicion every possible exertion should be used to ferret out the truth, and to bring the criminal, or criminals, to the bar of justice. Appearances would indicate that incendiarism has been rife, during the last few months, within the limits of the city, and the interests of the community demand that the most stringent measures should be taken to deter from its repetition. It is possible after all, that the destruction of the engine-house and engine is a casualty that might have been prevented if the railroad watchman had been as attentive to his duty as he appears, by the statement of our contemporary, to have been remiss. The destruction of the engine will be a serious inconvenience as well as a pecuniary loss, to the unfortunate Railroad Company.

Montreal Gazette  18 November 1857

Between Saturday night and Sunday morning last, the engine shed of the Ottawa and Prescott Railway Company, at this city, was burned to the ground. The beautiful new locomotive " Prescott," lately purchased by the Company, was in the shed at the time, and was, of course, much injured ; It is estimated that it will cost about $1,000 to repair the damage. The shed itself was of little value. The fire was first discovered by Mr. Baskervllle, the watchman at the terminus, about half a mile distant from the shed. He, of course, could not leave his post, but quickly roused some persons in the neighbourhood, who hurried to the spot. They found the shed all in flames, so that the locomotive could not be removed, but were in time to remove some cars which otherwise would have been destroyed. The watchman was found asleep in one of the cars. He immediately absconded and has since kept out of the way. Rumours are afloat that the fire was the work of an incendiary, but nothing has yet transpired to cast suspicion on any one. It appears quite possible that the culpable negligence of the watchman is alone to blame. Citizen

Updated 13 January 2024

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