Details of Railway Incidents in the Ottawa Area

1884, October 28 - Noisy Navvies cause Disturbance on CPR Train

Ottawa Citizen 29 October 1884

Who Refused to Pay their Fares on the C.P.R.
How Their Arrest was Effected by the Dominion and City Police - a Noisy Night in the Cells.

Last night about half-past ten o'clock a singular procession started from the Union Station, which attracted the attention of the few parties out at that hour of night, and proceeded towards Centre Town with a rapidly growing crowd mustering about it. The party consisted of some twelve policemen of the city and Dominion forces, each of whom had one or more handcuffed prisoners of rough looking appearance in charge. Who and what are they? was the general question among the crowd; but none seemed able or willing to give particulars as to when, where, how, or for what cause such a wholesale arrest had been made.


followed by the crowd, came steadily along Wellington and Spark streets and thence by Metcalfe street and Queen street to the police station, where the prisoners were run in and locked up. They were a tough looking lot, mostly French, and evidently labouring in a drunk, noisy, but not violent. The facts of the case, as learned at the station, seemed to be that


A party of twenty-three men boarded the express train due here at ten o'clock p.m. The train was in charge of Conductor John Williams. When they conductor went his rounds for the tickets he found a number of men in one of the second-class cars noisy and disorderly, and they refused to produce any tickets. On reaching Saint Martin's Junction he telegraphed to Mr. H. B. Spencer at Ottawa the circumstances in which he was placed. The latter gentleman at once communicated with the police authorities here. Chief Grant, under his advice, at once dispatched Sergt Montgomery and four men to the Hull station to meet the incoming train. When the train reached Hull it was evident that the small posse of the city men would not be sufficient to cope with the rowdy crowd, and a message was sent to Superintendent Sherwood, of


asking for additional assistance. He promptly responded to the call, and dispatched six men of his force under command of Sergeant Stevenson, to meet the train at the Union station, when the disorderly parties were secured. Mr. Thomas Graves, late station constable, who is well acquainted with all raftsman and navvies traveling through this section, was also pressed into the service, and did good work in pointing out parties likely to be ringleaders in the disturbance.


during the passage made things lively on board, smashing car windows, attempting to destroy car furniture, and generally defying the authority of the conductor and his subordinates, who owing to a disparity in numbers, were not able to cope with the would-be free passengers. At Hull the train was boarded by the city police, who did nothing more than quietly see that no further acts of violence were committed.


the train was met by the contingent from the Dominion police, who quickly boarded the car which contained the spotted rioters. The whole of them were promptly secured, and seemed completely cowed in the presence of an almost equal number of men in authority. Out of the twenty-three who left Montreal it was found that six had paid their fares before reaching Hull. The remaining seventeen, as before stated, were marched to the station and locked up for the night. The scene in the station was an unusual one for Ottawa. They were all locked up in the corridor and it was not deemed necessary to search them


was the consequence. The prisoners were pretty well loaded with whiskey, if not overburdened with other worldly goods. The majority of them finding themselves in captivity quietly submitted to their fate, but a few of the most noisy ones had to be separated from their companions and placed in separate cells. Mr. Graves, knowing what work the men of both forces had done, then invited them to the Grand Union, where he entertained them in a most hospitable manner.


for not paying their way was that they had been engaged by a party in Montreal to go west to work on a railway contract, and that free fares was a part of the bargain. Most of them were evidently men without means, and could not have paid their way even if they were so inclined. The surmise among some parties last night was that they were the victim of some sharp shipping agent. The facts of the case will probably come out this morning before the police magistrate. Meantime the locked up ones will have every opportunity to dilute their bad whiskey with good water, which was supplied to them in copious quantities by Station Constable Moylan.

Ottawa Citizen 30 October 1884

THOSE NAVVIES - the Navvies arrested on Tuesday evening, to a certain extent seemed to have been victims to circumstances. The railway company was, no doubt, right in insisting that they should pay their fares or leave the train. On the other hand, subsequent events show that the men were only asking their just rights in demanding free conveyance. The party to blame in the whole matter is the shipping agent, a Mr. Cadaret, of Montreal, who guaranteed them employment and a free passage to the scene of work. At the Police Court yesterday His Worship held that they could not be prosecuted for trespass. Mr. MacTavish, who appeared for the railway company, proposed to lay information against them for another offense. Up to a late hour yesterday afternoon no action had been taken in the matter, and the men were set at liberty.

Almonte Gazette 31 October 1884

RIOTOUS SHANTYMEN ON THE C.P.P. - it was currently reported in Ottawa on Tuesday evening last that the express train, then almost due from Montreal, had been boarded by desperados, the postal car broken into and the mailbox rifled. It was soon seen however, that nothing of so serious a nature had occurred, and that the rumor had evidently originated in the fact that the city and Dominion Police authorities had been telephoned for by Divisional Superintendent Spencer to arrest a gang of men from Montreal who had refused to pay their fare and were cutting up drunken pranks on board the train. The police took a special train to Hull. It was feared that the riotious navvies would jump off at that point to avoid arrest. As soon as the special reached Hull thirty police boarded the Montreal train, which had already arrived, and, locking the doors of the car in which the festive excursionists were holding high carnival, quickly put to order, and kept possession of the coach till it arrived at the Union Depot. Here a posse Dominion Police were in waiting, and the gang, numbering about fifteen, were taken prisoners and marched to the police station. It appears that the men had been hired in Montreal by an agent to work on the Canadian Pacific Railway, Lake Superior district, and had boarded the train expecting their passages to be paid by the party who had engaged them. Shortly after leaving Montreal the conductor, on asking the men for tickets, was told that they had none and would not pay for their passage. The conductor, Mr. Williams, on reaching St Martin's Junction telegraphed to the divisional superintendent, Mr. Spencer, who immediately took measures to secure the arrest of the party. The trial took place yesterday, but we have not learned the result.

Almonte Gazette 7 November 1884

The fifteen Montreal navvies who were caught "jugged" at Ottawa on Tuesday night of last week for refusing to pay their fares on the C.P.R. were liberated the next night. No charges could be entered against them. When they refused to pay the conductor that official should have put them off the train, that being the penalty in such a case. The conductor, however, had only a few men to assist him and was consequently unable to inflict the penalty.

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