Details of Railway Accidents in the Ottawa Area

1887, July 23 - First Annual Canada Atlantic Railway Employees' Excursion to Clarke's Island

Ottawa Free Press 23 July 1887

The strains of lively music at the Canada Atlantic railway station at the early hour of six this morning announced the fact that several hundred jolly railroaders, employed on that popular line, were about to depart on their annual picnic on Clark's Island, St. Lawrence River, opposite Coteau Landing.  Half an hour later, fifteen first class cars, filled with nearly a thousand pleasure seekers, rolled out of the station, amidst the shrieking of several locomotives in the yard and the music of Barrett's fine band.  --

Ottawa Journal 25 July 1887

Canada Atlantic Railway Men and Their Friends on Saturday
A Splendid Outing Brought off Without Hitch or Drawback.

Thirteen first class cars with fully eight hundred excursionists, the brave, the fair and the little ones, all alive for a days frolic steamed out of the Elgin Street Station on Saturday morning last bound for Clarke's Island and a good day's outing among the scenery and the health giving breezes of the St. Lawrence in the vicinity of Coteau landing. The excursion was the first annual picnic of the employees of the Canada Atlantic Railway company, and the successful way it was carried out gives ample guarantee that the employees are quite capable of organizing a day's pleasure to the satisfaction of everyone. The employees' committee who had charge of the excursion are deserving of the highest encomums [sic] for the way they managed things. They were indefatigable in their efforts to make everybody happy, and they succeeded abundantly.
The weather was simply splendid. The run to Coteau Landing was without accident, if one accepts the large contingents of pleasure seekers who boarded the train at the different stations en route.
Something amusing occurred at Alexandria, when the train stopped there. Several of the male excursionists, no doubt eager to test their powers of speed, started an impromptu race from the the train to McDonald's hotel, a distance of a couple of hundred yards. The car windows spectators called it a Scott Act race, and took the liveliest interest in the sport, with running comments on the different conditions of the contestants. Some were old and carried canes but although thus handicapped with age and wooden support, they put many of the younger men on their mettle.. Some of the excursionists too indolent or not thirsty enough to take an active part in the sport, conjectured that the train would move on and leave the racers behind. But the train was a pic-nic one and was too polite to be inhospitable and the panting "sprinters" regained their seats amid general applause.
When the landing was reached the big transport steamer the "Tranfer"[sic] was waiting to receive the party, and its decks, upper, lower and everywhere were soon crowded with a living laughing freight who drank in the bracing breeze on the St. Lawrence with a robust heartiness that was general.
Clarke's Island, the scene of the days festivities is one of the choicest spots for a picnic in the Dominion. It is thousands of acres in extent mostly all meadow land nearly level and with a velvety sward. On its western side it commands a fifteen mile sweep of the river which is here fully eight miles wide. The shores of the island on all sides are boarded with hardwood giant trees, the value of whose shade the pic-nickers were not slow in valuing, when baskets were emptied and keen appetites brought into action. The island is the property of the C.A.R. Co. who purpose making it a summer resort shortly by building a large hotel and putting a track on it for races and sports. It is just such a spot where those weary of the heat and dust of the city can find relaxation with every stimulus to health.
In selecting this place for a pic-nic the C.A.R. employees conferred a favor on their patrons, and this latter were not slow to acknowledge it. Everything was in readiness on the grounds when the party arrived. A large refreshment tent which had been erected for the convenience of those who came unprovided was quickly filled with hungry mortals and its full catering capabilities tested. When dinner had been partaken of the day's sports began. These were not of the professional, but rather of the family order. The picnic was a family one and the amusements were all built accordingly.
(Details of the events omitted here)
One of the features of the day's amusement was dancing, a large dancing platform having been erected in a large tent for that purpose. Barrett's string band supplied the music to everyone's satisfaction, and everyone danced that could shake a leg. At intervals during the day Barrett's brass band played many really fine selections, which added a musical spice to all the other proceedings.
Shortly after six o'clock the "Transfer" steamed to the dock, and the party filed on board, many with regret that the day was not a little longer, it had been so pleasant. Shortly after seven o'clock the excursionists were all safely seated in the train. The run home was without incident, the party reaching the Elgin street station shortly after eleven o'clock.
In every respect the excursion was an unbounded success, without a hitch or without a flaw, and it may be safely prophesied that when next summer's trip takes place thirteen or fifteen cars won't half accommodate those wishing to go if the weather is fine and Clarke's Island the point of destination.
The Prize Winners.
(Details omitted here)

Ottawa Ciitizen 25 July 1887

The Canada Atlantic Railway Company's employee excursion on Saturday was a decided success.  The train which was gaily decorated with flags and streamers started from the Chaudiere picking up many of the employees on the way to the Elgin Street Depot.  Here, the majority of the passengers, to the number of some 700, got on board, and after a selection from Barrett's band, which accompanied the excursion, the party started at 6.30 a.m. o'clock on their long day's outing.  A glimpse through the long line of thirteen cars showed the preparations that had been made for an enjoyable day.  Many of the men had furnished baskets, minnows and rods, and though no fish were seen, there will doubtless be the usual number of fish stories.  Some had prepared to play cricket, and nearly all had their sweethearts or wives with the usual number of picnic baskets.  All down the line at the point the cars stopped at fresh numbers got on board, and by the time Coteau had been reached, at 9.45, the number of pleasure seekers exceeded 800.  In but few minutes, the whole party, augmented by some 250 from Coteau, were on board the Transfer which was waiting for them, and which, in the course of half an hour, took them past several of the beautiful islands of the St. Lawrence and landed them at their destination, Clarke Island.  The trip across, with the music of the band and beautiful sun and breeze, was much enjoyed.  Arrived on the island to find the excellent preparation that had been made by the committee for the party consisted of two large marquees and a number of small tents.  The largest marquee was devoted to those who had not brought provisions with them, and here lengthy tables were laid out and an excellent meal could be had for the modest sum of 25 cents.  The other marquee was provided with a large platform and band stand, and here many dancers enjoyed themselves to the strains of Barrett's string band.  The other tents were occupied by the baseballers, lacrosse players and runners. It being, by this time about lunch time, the various groups found shelter under the trees by the river and lunch baskets were opened out, many of the enthusiastic anglers however being tempted to at once try the beautiful waters of the St. Lawrence.  The first item of the long list of games and sports on the programme to start was the
After the lacrosse match the company started home and were once more marshalled on the Transfer, all hands being delighted with the visit to the island, and many evincing a desire to stay a few more hours.  On the train it was plain to be seen that they had had a long enough days amusement for much of the company took advantage of the first class carriages to indulge in a sleep to wake up and say good night to their friends at the different stations as they got off.  The train arrives at the depot at 10.45 and the passengers went home to renew the reminiscences of an enjoyable day's picnic.  But one thing occurred to mar the pleasure and that was that a lady named Mrs. Hill was taken ill on the way home and had to be seen by a doctor at Coteau, who relieved the feelings of all present by saying that there was no danger, the attack of faintness being caused by the heat.  Too much praise cannot be given to the gentlemen who arranged the excursion and carried it off so successfully.  It was a great boon to the general public to be allowed to join and the committee must be thanked for the uniform courtesy that was shown to everyone of the company.

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