Details of Railway Accidents in the Ottawa Area

1890, March 12 - The CPR Soo Express is derailed at Graham's station Chalk River subdivision

Ottawa Journal  Wednesday 12 March 1890

A  Big Upset
Accident on the C.P.R. Near Pembroke
Spreading of the Rails Causes Four Coaches of the Sault Train to leave the Track - Several People Badly Hurt, but None Killed
Pembroke March 12 - The morning train from North Bay and Mattawa passing here at 9 a.m. jumped the track ten miles east of here. All the coaches including second class, first class, Pullman and dining car went over and are lying upside down . One or two passengers were badly hurt. A Mrs. Munroe, mother of Jno. A. Munroe, the well known contractor, has been severely injured. Mr. Mackey, the well known lumberman, was cut about the head and all the passengers badly shaken up.  One of the dining car waiters is said to be severely hurt. The engine did not leave the rails but the rest of the train is badly wrecked. There were about 80 persons on the train. The accident was caused by the spreading of the rails.

Ottawa Journal  Thursday 13 March 1890

A Nasty Accident Fortunately Accompanied by Comparatively Light Injuries
Stories of the .Smash Told by Passengers - The Injured.
The C.P.R train as reported in yesterday's Journal, 10 miles east of Pembroke yesterday, was the Soo express, and was due here at 11.35. The passengers were transferred from the wrecled train to a "Special" sent out from Ottawa for that purpose and arrived here at 7.55 p.m. They were met in the Union depot by a reporter of the Journal.
The appearance of the car was most melancholy. The injured passengers were sitting around in all positions with bandaged heads and limbs, but were inclined to enter freely into conversation with those who addressed them as to the cause of the accident.
The cook, named Blake, who was severely scalded was lying covered up, only a small part of his face being seen.  The poor fellow was asleep, a narcotic having been administered.
There was a great diversity of opinion among the passengers, and absolute reticence among the officials as to the cause of the accident.  The railway officials took care that the injured passengers would not be allowed to give their opinion to the reporters as the latter were immediately peremptorily ordered off the train and prevented from speaking to any on board.
The Passengers Stories.
One of the first passengers seen by The Journal believed that the brakes were at fault and that the speed of the trainwas very irregular.  Sometimes when on a down grade it seemed out of control. He believed that from abut twenty miles from the Soo the brakes were out of order.
Thought the Raolls Split
M.A.L. Wilcox, another passenger said the accident was quite unavoidable. When asked about the brakes, he said there was nothing wrong there. They were going at a good speed, and when taking the curve, the tender of the engine split open the rails. Asked if there was blame attached to anyone he said, "Not in the slightest." The great wonder was that they all got off as safe as they did.
Rocked, Dragged and Rolled Over
When the accident occurred the train was going at a great speed and when rounding a curve the engine and tender burst the track. Imediately ther was the greatest possible excitement. Behind the engine came the baggage car which at once burst the couplings but remained firm on the track. Behind it there were a sleeping car, dining car and one fiorst and second class carriages.  From the first shock the passengers had little time to take advantage of the warning. For a short soace the cars rocked and dragged along and finally woth a crash rolled over on theior sides, casting the passengers around in all directions with great violence.
An Exciting Scene
Immediately there was a scene of excitement incident to such accidents. Among the passengers hurt the most serious, were Mrs. Munroe and Mr. MacKie both of whom were conveyed back to Pembroke.
The Cook's Bad Scalding.
The second cook, Blake, of Montreal, who was working near the cooking range when the addident occurred was the worst injured on the train. He is severely scalded on the face, head and body and was suffering intense agony.  He may not live.
The Scene of the Wreck
The scene at the spot shows a thorough wreck with the four cars lying in the ditch being twisted and smashed to a degree illustrating the awful suddenness of the accident, whilst the wonder was called one that the personal injuries had been so slight. The passengers were attended to with all possible speed.
"Wild Bill" and the Sherriff
In the train were Sherriff English of Central Prison and a prisoner named Mulligan with the sobriquet of "Wild Bill," whom he was taking to Toronto. When the officer entered the train he joined the handcuffs of the prisoner to his own wrists with the result that when the accident occurred both were pitched with great force to the opposite side of the car, the sherriff landing on his head and becoming insensible. The convict immediately released himself from the bracelet, and some one said to him "Now's your time, skip to the woods," "No," he repleid, "I will not," and straightway proceeded to assist the sherriff and alleviate his suffering. This set was admired by all on board and overtures will shortly be made to have the prisoner's sentence shortened or commuted. During the remainder of the journey he was not handcuffed.
Not Mr. Mackie of Ottawa
The report which gained considerable credence yesterday afternoon that Mr. Wm. Mackie, the well known lumberman, was on board and seriously injured is happily not true. Mr. Mackie was in this city yesterday in excellent health. The injury to Mrs. Munroe is however of a very serious nature. Three of her ribe are broken and her nervous system has received a severe shake.
Out of between thirty and forty passengers it is almost phenomenal that only a dozen were hurt, some very slightly. The nature of the accident and the fact of four cars rolling down a ten foot embankment is sufficient to cause the wonder and congratuation that severe deaths and more serious injuries are not chronicled.
Cool, Well Behaved Passengers
Mr. R. H. Cram, the conductor on the train, was seen today by the Journal. He had received a cut on the head and was somewhat shaken up, but not much the worse for the smash, Mr. Cram states that the passengers behaved in a splendid manner, taking things very coolly and showing good judgment. Mr. Cram being asked what caused the "run off" said he did not know. He had heard that it ws owing to the spreading of the tracks, but he did not believe it was the road bed at that particular place was second to none on the road.
List of Injured
Not noted
John English of Central prison, had in his charge a prisoner well known here as Wild Bill Mulligan. He had this man chained to his seat, and instead of escaping he assisted the bailiff out of the car unhurt. By the use of snow the fires in the stoves were put out before any damage was done. The injured were well cared for by the railway officials and neighbors. Doctors from Pembroke were immediately sent for and these, with others from the neighborhood, were soon on the spot to alleviate the suffering. The injured were removed to Pembroke.

Almonte Gazette 14 March 1890

The town was thrown into a state of intense excitement on Wednesday forenoon by the report that the Soo train, due here at ten o’clock, had been wrecked near Graham’s station, that the cars had gone down an embankment, and that at least one life had been lost and every passenger on the train more was injured. The balance of the day the accident was the subject most talked of,  being impossible to obtain any reliable account of the disaster, the telegraph wires being required by the officials.

The reports that had been received were as they went from mouth to month greatly exaggerated, and the excitement and suspense increased proportionately. Immediately on receipt of the intelligence here all the available medical men were requested to hasten at once to the scene of the disaster, a wrecking train having in the meantime been despatched from Carleton Place.

Prs. Lynch, Reeve and Gemmill, and Messrs. J. Lawson, V.S., D. H. Davis, W. M. Rea, J. Dunlop and W. Martin responded to the call for help, and at Pakenham were joined by Dr. Jamieson, Dr. D. Cameron, of Arnprior, going by a later train. On arrival at the scene of the accident Drs. Dickson and Bedard, of Pembroke, and Rattray, of Cobden, were found in attendance, and the pleasing intelligence learned that all the passengers had been got out and the injured ones attended to, that no lives were lost, and that with two or three exceptions the injuries were not serious.

The most serious ones were Mrs. Munro, mother of Mr. J. W. Munro, contractor, of Pembroke, and aunt of Mr. J. M. Munro, of Almonte, who had. three ribs broken and was otherwise severely injured. The cook of the dining car, Mr. Duclois, of Montreal, was very badly scalded. He was in the kitchen of the car when it went over, and the boiling contents of the range were poured over him. His escape from instant death was one of the most miraculous. His injuries are very severe and painful, his arms, face and the upper part of his body being badly scalded. Another miraculous escape was that of Mr. Thos. Mackie, of Pembroke, who was seated in the rear of the dining car smoking when the shock came. He was thrown from his seat with such force that the veneered ceiling of the car was stove in where his head struck againat it. He received two severe scalp wounds, but was able to be around.

Mr. T. R. Horn, of Pembroke, also received pretty severe injuries, being badly braised about his side and back, and very much shaken up. Mrs. Munro was placed in a car and made as comfortable as was possible under the circumstances, the others being taken to the residence of Mr. Graham near by.

The accident occurred about 9:40 a.m., a quarter of a mile beyond Graham’s station, the rails having spread while the train was passing round a curve just after crossing Graham’s bridge. The engine— a heavy Mogul - kept the track, but the tender and entire train of six can were thrown off, the four rear ones - a Pullman, a dining and a first class and a second class - turning over on their sides, and going down an embankment about ten feet high. As the cars overturned the passengers, seats, baggage, lamps and everything movable wen thrown in a promiscuous heap, many of the wounds and bruises sustained being caused by the falling furniture. That about seventy passengers could pass through such an experience without the lose of a single life, and with so few serious injuries, can only be attributed to the providential ruling of the Supreme Being in whose hands all our lives are.

Following we have a list of the injured ones as far as could be ascertained : Mrs. Munro, Pembroke, three ribs broken and other injuries. Mr. Thos. Mackie, Pembroke, severe scalp wounds. Mr. Thos. R. Horn, Pembroke, side and back bruised. Mr. J. O. Dunlop, Pembroke, bead cat. Mr. Julius Blaisdell, Pembroke, head cut and bruised. Mrs. Cardiff, Pembroke, braised about the face. Two children with her escaped unhurt. Mr. Henry Duclois, Montreal, severely scalded. Mr. Stephen Smith, of Maryland, Pontiac Co., Que., back hurt. Mr. James Jones, Montreal, back slightly hurt.

Mr. A. G; Fields, Minneapolis, bound for Woodstock, N.B., face and scalp wounds and bruises on body. Mrs. Walker, Old Superior, slightly hurt. Mr. E. J. Antell, Brooklyn, N.Y., leg and left shoulder injured. Mr. Edward Gravelle, Ottawa, heat, pretty badly cut and shoulder strained. Mr. Jos. Joly, L ’Orignal, head cut ant right arm injured. Mr. John English, Toronto, was knocked senseless and badly cut about head. Miss Bertha Delahey, daughter of Mr. John Delahey, of Cobden, slight. Mr. James Wark, Forrester’s Falls, slight bruise on face. Mr. Nicholas Larkin, Minneapolis, head, face and hand cut. Mr. Henry J. Morrow, Schuyler, N. Y., head cut aud bruised. Mr. W. H. Maxwell, Toronto, leg bruised. Capt. Davy, West Broughton, head cut. Mr. A. E. Mullburg, Fergus Falls, Minn., head cut. Mr. Jerome Ford, Concord, N.H.

The passengers were treated to a free lunch on arriving at Carleton Place by the company. The loss to the company will not be very heavy, the cars not being very badly damaged. A large gang of men was put to work clearing the track, and in a few hours it was again open for traffic. A passenger train was made up and left for the east about four o’clock, having on board all the passengers except those belonging to Pembroke and vicinity. The action of Mr. Jerome Ford, of Concord, who, though injured himself, worked manfully in rescuing the passengers, and would not consent to have his own wounds dressed until all were removed from the cars, is spoken of in terms of highest praise.

Mr. W. R. White, of Pembroke, the company’s solicitor, was promptly on hand, and poured balm into the wounds of many of the injured in the shape of $5 and $10 bills, on condition that the amount paid relieved the company from any further liability in the matter. Some refused to settle.

Mr. Jno. English, of Toronto, is an official of the Central Prison, and had in his custody "Wild Bill" Mulligan, of Pembroke, whom he was taking to the Central Prison, where he had been sentenced for one year for theft. He was hand-cufied to the arm of the seat in the second-class car, and when the car went over Mr. English was rendered insensible from a blow. Wild Bill by a vigorous effort released himself, and, being uninjured, at once set to work to rescue his custodian, which he did, and not only remained by him until he had regained consciousness, but made no effort to escape. Mr. English was greatly pleased over the conduct of his prisoner, and will use his influence to have the sentence cancelled, or at least shortened. It certainly was a very manly act of Mulligan not to take advantage of his keeper’s misfortune and clear out, as he might easily have done. his departure for the land of Uncle where he hopes to make a fortune in a few years. Our wish is that his hopes may be fully realized.

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Updated 7 December 2019