of the locomotives involved was #283 was a 4-4-0 built by Hinckley in
August 1883. This was the locomotive that hauled Sir John A. McDonald's
funeral train on 6 June 1891.
14 October 1897
Shortly after five o'clock this morning the C.P.R. Toronto "Cannon
Ball" Exress coming to Ottawa and a freght train ran into each other
about three miles this side of Stittsville. A bad wreck
Five are dead and one is badly injured.
The dead are:
Robt. Peden, mail clerk Ottawa.
Jas Hastey, brakeman on the express, Carleton Place.
James Tierney, of Cantley, Quebec, was on the freight and supposed to
be stealing a ride.
Engineer, Frank Laurendeau, Carleton Place, of the express is under the
wreck and supposed to be dead.
James Fleming of Cantley, Quebec, who was in freight. Not
how he was on.
Engineer McCuaig of the freight Carleton Place. Leg broken.
Mail clerk Birchall and Expressman T.C. Hewton were badly shaken up.
The accident as far as can be learned was the result either of a
misunderstanding or non-obeyance of orders between the night telegraph
operator and the conductor of the express.
Marion McNish, the night operator at Stittsville got instructions to
cross the express and a freight at Stittsville.
Why the express was not held at Stittsville as orered has yet to be
ascertained but the fact is it was not held and thundering on along the
downgrade met half of the freight that should have crossed it at the
Stittsville switch. The result was a terrible
the point where the accident occurred the express runs at a high rate
Stittsville is at the top of a long steep grade. Just past Stittsville
the ground rises slightly and then descends so that a train going east
cannot see a train coming west.
The freight train was long and heavy.
The engineer of the freight divided his train in two. He had
taken one section to the Stittsville siding and was on the up-grade
with the second section when the "Cannon Ball" express came tearing
down the grade and quicker than it can be written there was a head-on
crash, cries of the injured and wreckage strewn all around.
collision occurred near the Hazeldean crossing.
The wreck was piled up 30 feet high. The two engines are badly damaged
and the baggage car on the express and three freight cars
wrecked. The scene was a sad one to witness.
As soon as the crash was over and a crowd gathered doctors were set for
in all directions. Soon there were on the scene Dr.
Hazeldean, Dr. Channonhouse and Dr. Danby of Richmond. They
worked hard to aid the injured.
Jumped for Life
As soon as the express appeared in sight, Engineer McCuaig of the
freight put on the air brakes, but as soon as he saw a collision was
inevitable he and the fireman jumped for their lives.
Pinned in the Wreck
Brakeman Hastey of the freight, who had been riding on the engine, did
not jump. When the crash was over he was found pinned down by
leg in the wreck of the freight engine. He was
He suffered terribly but lived until 8.30.
The poor fellow could not be taken out. Mr. S. Mann of
Stittsville was near him when he died.
"Get the stuff off me", he said weakly, and I will be all right. He
then swooned and shortly afterwards breathed his last.
No Time to Think
According to the story of Engineer McCuaig, the trains did not see each
other until they were less than 8 car lengths apart, and there was no
time to think. As soon as he saw the express coming he told
fireman and brakeman, he says, to jump and jumped himself, getting
clear. The air was misty at the time and still comparatively
Descriptions of narrow escapes by crew members
Pen Picture of the
Wreck as seen
by Journal Reporters
The wreck is a terrible looking scene. Two engines lie bottoms
together, with the debris of broken freight cars and tenders piled upon
them. They are in a ditch on the south side of the track, in
swamp full of bulrushes.
The telegraph poles on both sides are bent away from the track, the
wires broken and down.
The track runs through a swampy land and on both sides are low
bushes. The two engines are lying together in a ditch on the
south side of the track. The tender of the exress train was
way through the baggage car and the front of the second baggage car is
also badly smashed. Of the passenger train, only the engine
the track while the freight engine lies beside the passenger engine and
the freight cars are piled in a heap on the north side of the
track. Two of the freight cars are smashed to pieces, while
of the trucks are broken and twisted altogether out of shape.
trees beside the engines are covered with earth for twenty feet back
from the swamp and right up to the topmost limbs, while the fences look
as if they had been built of mud.
The track where the engines met has been bent considerably, while the
sleepers are broken and many will have to be renewed.. While
train hands at noon today are cleaning up the debris the wreckage was
so entangled that many ties were further broken. Trains will likely be
moving along the line before five o'clock this afternoon.
Ottawa Evening Journal Friday 15 October, 1897. Extensive
coverage: Victims taken home, Inquest opened.
McNish in Custody
Operator McNish of Stittsville is being kept in custody at the C.P.R.
station. The crown authorities have not yet decided to place
under arrest, but he is being held for the present. He is only nineteen
years of age and feels very keenly over the accident. An
expression of opinion that he is responsible for the accident should be
withheld until the verdict of the coroner'sjury is given.
First Train Through
The first train to get past the scene of the wreck was the Brockville
mixed which arrived at Ottawa at three o'clock yesterday afternoon
about six hours late. --
Ottawa Daily Citizen 15 October 1897
SERIOUS CP.R. COLLISION
TORONTO EXPRESS DASHES INTO A FREIGHT TRAIN.
Accident Took Place Two Miles this Side of Stittsville-What Walter
Kavanagh Heard While in the Station at Stittsville-Evidence Given
Before the Coroner's Jury Last Evening.
A "head-on" collision with
fatal results occurred early yesterday morning on the CP.R. about two
miles east of Stittsville, and 13 miles from Ottawa. The express train
from Toronto, due to arrive here at 5.50 a.m., collided with a freight
train going west. Both trains were running at a high rate of speed.
There are four deaths as the result of the accident:
Frank Larondeau, Ottawa, engineer of the express, found dead under the debris.
Robert Peden, mail clerk, Ottawa.
James Hastey, Carleton Place, front brakeman on freight train.
H. Kearney, of Cantley, Quebec.
injured are: Alex. McQuaig, of Carleton Place, engineer of the freight
train, leg broken; H. Kavanagh, fireman, also of Carleton Place,
scratched and bruised ; and P. J. Fleming, of Cantley, Que, who was
HOW IT HAPPENED.
The accident occurred at 5.27,
as is indicated by Larondeau's watch having stopped at that time. It
was foggy. and Engineer McQuaig, of the freight train, says he could
not see a yard ahead. The two trains were running at full speed. The
place where the accident happened is about half way between Stittsviile
station and a curve in the road about three miles east. The freight was
a heavy one, and had been divided into two parts at Bell's Corners in
order to run up the heavy grade between that place and Stittsville. The
first half had been taken as far as Stittsville and orders should have
been left there for the express to wait at Stittsville till the freight
came up with the second section. It was the duty, it is said, of
brakeman Hastey to have stayed by the section of the freight
sidetracked at Stittsville, in order to flag ary train from the west.
Instead, he went back with the freight engine to Bell's Corners.
However, Walter Kavanagh testified before the coroner's jury last night
that he heard someone, presumably the conductor of the freight train,
tell the station agent at Stittsville, Marion (sic) McNish, not to
allow the express train to pass until the freight train had been made
AN AWFUL CRASH.
The Toronto train was sharp on time, and the
two trains met with a crash that was heard a mile away. At the place
where the collision occurred the freight had just got over the grade
and was running for Stittsville at a good speed.
The two engines met
at united speed of about ninety miles an hour. As they struck they
reared up on end, the hind drivers meeting. Both locomotives then
toppled over on the south side of the track. Four freight cars, three
of them empty cattle cars, were driven on past the engines and piled in
a heap on the north side of the track. Two i these cars are broken into
kindling wood. The other two can be repaired.
On the rear of the
passenger train the shock was scarcely felt. The mail car, in which
were Peden and F. Birchall, also a mail clerk, was badly broken up.
THE DANGERS, Engineer Alex. McQuaig, of the freight, and his fireman,
H. Kavanagh, heard the express coming thundering down upon them just as
they rounded the curve. The driver reversed his engine and put on the
steam brake. Then both men jumped for their lives. McQuaig came off
with his right leg broken near the ankle. Kavanagh was more fortunate,
sustaining only a few, bruises and a cut over one of his eyes
ON THE EXPRESS.
engineer of the express evidently did not see the approaching freight
in time to jump. His fireman, Lyman Annable, jumped, and escaped with a
few slight cuts and bruises. Annable says he jumped from the engineer's
side of the engine cab and the engineer from his side. The place where
Larondeau's body was found, among the wreckage on the north side of tie
track verifies this statement. F. Birchall and M. W. Sloan were also in
the mail coach with Robert Peden, and had miraculous escapes from death.
the search for the bodies began Peden was found under the debris of the
engine and baggage car. Brakeman Hastey was not dead when found pinned
in between a freight car and the wreck of the freight engine. He was
unconscious, though, and died about three; hours after. It is thought
that Kearney had been stealing a ride, and when found was dead. His
body was lying among the debris of the freight) cars.
The body of
Larndeau was not discovered until about half-past four in the
afternoon. As Annable said, be must have jumped from the fireman's side
of the! cab. He probably jumped almost as the engines met, for his body
was found among, the broken freight on the north side of the track
almost opposite the wreck of the locomotives. When found the body was
doubled up, with the hands up to the head, and the clothes were partly
P. J. Fleming was stealing a ride with Kearney on the
freight train, but escaped with a few scalp wounds. His injuries are
not serious and he will probably .soon recover. Hei is at the
Protestant Hospital, where he was conveyed at once.
THE RELIEF TRAIN.
wrecking train was promptly on the scene of the accident, and the work
of rescuing the wounded and cleaning (sic) the tracks begun. Doctors
were also sent for, and Dr. Richardson came from Hazeldean, Dr.
Shannonhouse and Dr. Darby from Richmond. They gave valuable,
assistance in taking care of the wounded. The line was cleared
sufficiently to allow trains to pass by one o'clock. The telegraph
lines of both the G. N. W. and C. P. R. Companies run along this line,
and were broken down by the wreck being thrown against the poles. Gangs
of men repaired them temporarily. The passengers on the express were
transferred to a train for Ottawa, brought into the cityj and
breakfasted by he C. P. R- They sneak in high terms of the way in
which the company treated them.
Mr. C. W. Spencer estimates the
loss to the C. P. R. at about $6.000. The two engines were old; ones
and were soon to have been sent to the repair shops. Two of the freight
cars can be repaired at a small cost, while there is a great deal of
both engines and cars that can be saved.
During the day the wreck
was visited by large numbers of people from Ottawa and from the country
round. Many went by bicycle from the city, and many farmers drove to
the scene of the accident and watched the gang of wreckers at work
clearing the tracks. Several of the sight seers brought their kodacks,
and took snap shots of the wreck.
Evldence of Some of the Psssengers - Walter Kavanagh's Story.
Freeland opened the inquest at Undertaker S. M. Rogers' morgue, at four
o'clock, yesterday afternoon. After the remains of James Hastey.
brakeman, and Jas. Kearney had been viewed, an adjournment was made
until the evening. lte y is composed as follows: A. C. Larose. foreman;
Dr. Parnell, Geo. Low. Frank Kehoe, John Buchanan, Jos. Boyden. S.
Mahoney. P. H. Charbot. L. T. Rochbn,,W. H. Davis, Frank Montgomery.
Ed. Whelan, W. E. Brown, F. Merritt, Wm. Keenahan, W. A.Davis.
the jury met in the evening County Crown Attorney Ritchie was in
attendance and examined the witnesses. Mr. Curl, of Scott and Curl,
appeared on behalf of the C. P. R. and Mr. MacCraken for the relatives
of Mr. Peden. Mr. C. W. Spencer and Mr. Robillard of the C. P. R. were
It was decided to confine the inquest to the death of
James Hastey, the brakeman. who was killed on the front part of the
MR. WHITE'S TESTIMONY.
Mr. W. J. White,
press agent of the department of the Interior was first examined. He
was on the train, having boarded it at Toronto. He could not say what
time they reached Stiftsvi!Ie. but the accident occurred just a few
minutes before half-past five o'clock. He was in his berth at the time.
As soon as it happened he arose and went to the rear end of the coach.
It was so foggy that it was difficult for him to see any distance. He
heard the screaming of those ahead and he put on his clothes and went
forward. There was nothing that be noticed then except that there had
been a smash up.
To Mr. Ritchie the witness said he saw two men
carried into the first class car. These were all be saw, except a
portion of a man underneath a freight car.
Further, he stated that
the coal oil lamp in the baggage car was still burning. He asked one of
the injured men if he was hurt, but he seemed so badly shook up that he
gave but a very incoherent answer.
Mr. C. W. Spencer, by way of
explanation, stated that coal oil was not used in the lamps. Mineral
sea oil was used as a precaution.
Witness withdrew his statement about the coal oil, stating that he only thought such had been used,
Joseph P. Rogers was on the train. He testified that as soon as the
accident happened he jumped from his berth, went forward, but could
only see a cloud of vapor. On going forward further be saw a man
injured. He went over the debris and heard a man crying out for help.
One of the engines was on the right hand side of the track coming east.
Both might have been there ; he didn't take particular notice.
TESTIMONY. Dr. Scott, sworn, said he had examined the body of deceased.
Death was due to shock and injuries received. There were several burns
on his right leg. which was broken a little above the knee. The left
foot was burned, and there was a deep cut over the right temple. He
went to the wreck from the city with Mr. |Spencer, and when he first
saw Hastey he was alive. The tender was turned on its side. He was in
it, and part of the boiler was holding him down. Hastey said he was
suffering very much. It was very difficult to get at him. One of the
train hands had got in where be was and was carrying out directions.
Eveiything was done that could be done to get him out. It took quite a
while because they had to go gently about it for fear of some of the
wreck falling on him. He was dead when taken out, having died in there
about five minutes before being extricated. They placed bis body on a
train and brought it to Ottawa, arriving here about half-past eleven.
Mindler, Detroit, Mich, was on the train. He felt a shock and beard a
man shout "Great Scott, vot am going to happen ?" He went forward
immediately with another man, and heard a man shout for help. He seemed
to be in the midst of the gushing steam. Witness started to climb up
the side of the wreck to give some assistance, but slipped down twice.
When the steam cleared away some he saw the man in the tender by
looking through the manhole. He was all covered over with dirt. One of
the trainmen managed to get through tbe manhole to his assistance.
A STITTSVILLE PASSENGER.
Forbes, of Goulbourn, boarded the express train at Stittsille at about
twenty-five minutes past five o'clock. He saw a man in the office, and
afterwards walking up and down the platform. The train, he thought,
arrived at Stittsville on time. He could not say at what rate of speed
it was going when the accident happened. The shock caused bim to bump
back against his seat. He raw Hastey pinioned in the tender some time
after the collision. The man was alive, for he beard bim shout " Jim."
While be was at Stittsville a train came from Ottawa, and he thought it
drew into the siding, and was blowing and shunting. He went away to
unharness a horse and returned about ten minutes afterwards. He could
not say positively whether this train went on or returned, nor whether
it left any cast on tbe siding.
WHAT W. KAVANAGH HEARD. Walter
Kavanagh was at Ithe Stittsville station about twenty-five minutes to
five. A train came from Ottawa and went back again. A mangot off the
train and went into tbe station. He heard him say, "Let no trains
through until I get my train made up." The man seemed to he in a hurry.
The operator was in the office. Witness could not say whether tbe
operator made any reply. When the Toronto train arrived he saw the
agent walking up and down the station platform. After the collision
happened he saw deceased pinioned in the tender. He heard him say,
"Send for two engines and draw the cars away". Witness could not say
that be would know the man again who spoke to the operator if he saw
After hearing Mr. Kavanagh the jury, by agreement, adjourned until Tuesday evening at tbe same place.
THE DEAD MEN.
Ottawa Evening Journal Saturday 16 October 1897.
Borne to the grave.
Ottawa Daily Citizen 20 October 1897
DID M'N1SH HEAR HIM?
BRAKEMAN HASTEY GAVE THE OPERATOR ORDERS
Not to Let the "Cannon Ball" pass Sttisville - Evidence Given at the Adjourned Inquest Into the Death of the Railway Men.
adjourned inquest into the death of James Hastey, one of the victims of
the recent railway disaster near Stittsville, was resumed in S. Maynard
Rogers' new undertaking establishment, Rideau street, last night,
before Coroner Freeland. The building was crowded to the doors. Mr. J.
A. Ritchie was present in the interest of the crown and W. H. Curle
represented the C.P.R
The first witness called was Solomon Logan,
section foreman in district No. 29. between Stittsville and Ashton. He
merely staled that he visited the wreck shortly after the accident.
Thomas Mattingly, section foreman, stated that it was not customary to divide freight trains, but it was done occasionally
NO ORDERS AT STITTSVILLE.
T. Warnock, W. H. Harrington, James A. Smart, Deputy Minister of the
Interior and Prof. Fletcher, all of whom were on the Toronto express at
the time of the accident, swore that they heard no orders given by the
operator at Stittsville to the train hands.
J. E. A. Robillard,
superintendent of the Montreal and Chalk River division of the C.P.R.,
was the next witness. He explained the mode of train despatching and
clearance on the C. P.R. The clearance order for the express to proceed
from Carleton Junction to Ottawa was produced. It authorized the
conductor to proceed to his destination at Ottawa. Stittsville is only
a flag station. It was a special freight that collided with the Toronto
express. The conductor of the freight would receive orders to run from
Ottawa to Carleton Junction and keep clear of the regular trains. Such
orders would be issued by the train despatcher at Ottawa. R. W.
McCo-mick was the despatcher on the morning of the accident. Engineers
have the right to return for detached portions of trains, but must
notify the nearest station agent to hold regular trains. When the
accident occurred McNish was the operator at Stittsville. Special
freights must take orders at each station.
To a juryman witness stated that specials are made up by the agents snd yardmasters.
To Mr. Curle It is not customary to divide freights. There were five men in charge of the special freight that morning.
CONDUCTOR OF THE EXPRESS.
II. E. Pearson, conductor of the Toronto express, was then called. He
said : I was in charge of No. 29 at the time of the accident on the
15th inst. I received my clearance order at Carleton Junction. (Witness
here identified the order.) The order authorized me to run to Ottawa
clear of all trains unless stopped by special orders. I gave the order
to the engineer. After leaving Carleton Junction our first stop was at
Stittsville at 5.18 a.m. We were flagged to take on a passenger. 1 did
not leave the coach at Stittsville; saw red signal light on the station
platform. If the Nunn signal had been displayed it would have indicated
to stop for orders. I had no conversation whatever with the operator at
Stittsville or anyone else; I received no instructions or warning at
Stittsville. Having no knowledge that the special was coming from
Ottawa I gave the engineer the signal to go ahead. I noticed no cars on
the siding at Stittsville; was in the smoking apartment of the sleeper
when the trains struck. My train was running from 25 to 28 miles an
hour. It was dark and foggy. When the collision occurred I left the car
and went forward toward the locomotive; saw James Hastey by the side of
the tender; it was impossible to extricate him. He was conscious at the
time but I had no conversation with him just then. When I ordered my
brakeman to flag any approaching train Hastey said, " For God's sake
get me out of here and I will do the flagging". Immediately after I
left for Ottawa, Hastey being alive at that time.
FIREMAN ANXABLE'S EVIDENCE.
Annable sworn, said: I was fireman on the Toronto express on the
morning of the accident and saw a red lieht on the platform at
Stittsville station. I saw no one waving the light or on the platform
when the train approached. I did not notice Engineer Larondeau speaking
to any person at Stittsville. I would have noticed if anyone had spoken
to the entineer. Larondeau said " All right," and we left for Ottawa. I
noticed no cars on the siding. About 2 1-2 miles east of Stittsville, I
noticed a headlight about eight car lengths ahead of us. I said:
"That's a beadlight, Frank !" He made no reply, but applied the air
brakes; it stopped the impetus of the train. It was on a straight line
that the accident occurred. When I spoke I left my seat and jumped, the
engines being about four car lengths apart at that time. I jumped, and,
striking the ground, rolled as far as the fence. It was very foggy and
dark, i didnt see Hastey.
To a juryman "I didn't see McNish that night or before."
WHAT W. KAVAVAGH HEARD.
Kavanagh was next examined t-y Mr, Curil- He said: "I was in
Stittsville station the morning of the accident; train is due there at
5.18; I reached station, at 10 minutes to 5; saw a freight coming in
when entering the station; saw a man come in station; I took him to be
a train official; he carried a lantern, but wore no uniform. He said to
McNish: "Let no trains through until I get mine made up.'"He .seemed:
in a hurry; had a dark moustache ; wouldn't know him if I saw him
again. I am not positive whether the operative was in the office at
that time, and didn't hear him answer the trainman. He was there when I
got my ticket. He came out on the arrival of the express. I don't
remember having had any conversation with any train hands since the
HASTEY WARNED McNISH.
William H. Kavanagh said be
was fireman on the special freight leaving Ottawa that morning. The
train consisted of 26 stock cars, and a van. It was heavy. On reaching
Bell's Corners they met with difficulty. They went half a mile up grade
and stopped. Engineer McCuaig gave orders to cut the train. McCuaig,
Hastey and himself took the train to Stittsville, arriving there at
4.50. They put twelve cars on the siding. Hastey went into the station
after they had left the cars on the siding, and on coming out said he
had told the operator to hold the "cannon ball," meaning the Toronto
express. At the time of the collision McCuaig noticed the express
coming first. He said : "Here's the 'cannon ball,' jump!" No flagman
was left at Stittsville. Both semaphores were up- when they left. They
were not up when they arrived. When they got there the last sempahore
was not showing; the" west might have been.
At 11.30 Coroner Freeland adjourned the inquest until to-night at eight o'clock.
Ottawa Daily Citizen 21 October 1897
Cause of the collision
Mervin McNish didn't hear Hastey's order.
The statements he made before the coroner's jury last night - the conductor of the freight train said Hastey disobeyed orders.
inquest into the death of brakeman Hastey in the recent ailway accident
was continued last night before Coroner Freeland. The attendance was
large as usual and the proceedings were watched closely. Of course the
important witness examined last night was Mervin McNish, the operator
at Stittsville on the night of the disaster. He gave his evidence in an
intelligent and straightforward manner, with which the jury was
favorably impressed. From this evidence it was elicited - as intimated
in yesterday's Citizen - that the accident was caused by an unfortunate
misunderstanding and failure to hear brakeman Hastey's order to "hold
the Cannonball." The inquiry was further adjourned shortly after
eleven, until Monday next, when it is expected that the evidence of
McCuaig, engineer of the freight who is suffering from a broken leg,
will be taken. This will be the last witness and the case will then go
to the coroner's jury.
Conductor of the freight.
witness last night was Harry Hawes, conductor of the special freight,
which left Ottawa on the morning of the accident. He stated that he
received orders from the train despatcher at Ottawa to proceed to
Carleton Junction, crossing an eastbound freight at Stittsville. He
left Ottawa at 3.25 and crossed the "Soo" train at Britannia leaving
that place at 4. 0 with 26 cars and a van. He got stuck on the upgrade
at Bells Corners and cut the train, sending the front brakeman James
Hastey, to Stitsville with the forward portion of the train, and
Hamilton, the rear brakeman, to flag any train approaching from the
rear. Witness told Hastey to take the forward portion to Stittsville
and to stay and flag the Toronto Express, No. 28. Was positive of
giving that order. He saw Hastey on his return and asked him if he had
stopped the express. Hastey said, "I told the operator to stop her." He
knew that Hastey had not complied with his orders, but supposing the
operator would hold the express, signaled "go ahead." He first knew of
the accident when the application of the air brakes was felt. He was in
the van at the time the trains collided. He went out immediately and
found McCuaig lying on the grass. McCuaig said his leg was hurt. Head
Hastey call and went to his assistance. Couldn't extricate him from his
position. Witness was the first to reach Hastey. He remained at the
wreck about 5 minutes and went to Stittsville for assistance. He met
McNish when he arrived. McNish did not know of the accident. He tried
to get Ottawa by telegraph but failed, and then tried to telephone but
could make no connection. He raised the day operator and after
difficulty transmitted the message. He saw no signal displayed on
reaching Stittsville and asked McNish if he knew what he had done.
Mcnish said "no" and offered no explanation. He told McNish to set the
Nunn signal and then returned to the wreck.
John R. Hamilton, rear
brake man of the special freight, said at the time of the accident he
went to Hastey's assistance. Hastey said, "My God, Jack, get me out."
Witness told him he had to flag. When he returned Hastey was dead.
Nunn signal displayed.
Quinn, express brakeman, looked out at Stittsville and saw a red light
on the platform. He didn't notice the semaphores and saw someone take
the lantern into the station and two passengers get on. He didn't see
hastey until he was taken out dead. He went to Stittsville to flag and
returned with wrecking crew.
Baggagemaster Booth said that on leaving Stittsville the Nunn the signal was not displayed, authorizing the express to go ahead.
dispatcher McCormick, of Ottawa, explained the mode of dispatching
trains. He ordered the special to proceed from Ottawa to Carleton on
the 14th. On hearing of the accident he ordered to tool cars and
medical assistance and notified Mr. Robillard, the superintendent. To
Mr. Curle witness said Mcnish had been employed five or six weeks and
performed his work satisfactorily.
witness was Mervin McNish, operator in charge of the station at
Stittsville on the morning of the 14th. Mr. Ritchie conducted the
direct examination. Witness said: I was 19 years old in November last.
I began to study telegraphy for the G. T. R. agent at Iroquois, Ont.,
in November, 96. I was there six months leaving on June 1, and shortly
afterwards came to Bellamy station on the C. P. R. as a student. I was
there two weeks and then came to Stittsville. I could not take every
message that came over the lines, only those transmitted at a moderate
rate. I always took any message sent me and could send any delivered to
me. I was not thoroughly acquainted with station work but knew the
duties of a night operator. An operator's duty is to arrange signals,
set semaphores, look after freight and baggage and sell tickets. I was
sent to Stittsville on September 11th, remained there two weeks and was
then sent to Calumet. I remained there two nights and shortly
afterwards was transferred to Stittsville. I don't remember the date. I
visited Grenville and return to Stittsville for the third time. I read
the C. P. R. Rules at Bellamy's and refer to them when necessary. On
returning for the second portion of the freight a flagman should have
been left at Stittsville by C. P. R. rule 116. I went on duty on the
evening of the 13th. My first orders were that two freights would cross
at Stittsville. This required me to display the Nunn signal. I
received the order from Ottawa between midnight and 4 a. m. When I
operated the signal I didn't notice if the lights on it moved. It was
the day man's duty to light the semaphore lights. I noticed them lit
during the night. As the westbound express from Ottawa entered the yard
I put up the east semaphore. The "Soo" train passed at 3:57. When she
Expected an accident.
I put up the west board and let it
down when she reached Ottawa. The next train was the special freight
from Ottawa. The Nunn signal was not displayed in order that I might
stop No. 28, the Toronto express. When the special freight from Ottawa
entered the yard the line was clear. When I saw it come in I went out
and put up the west board and could see the lights burning. A man at
the switch - I supposed it was Hawes - said, "we had to cut to get in."
I then knew that the train had been divided, but I didn't understand
that was a portion of his train between Stittsville and Ottawa. I
thought he meant the rear end of his train was on the other end of the
siding; I supposed he had put that part of the train on the siding, and
the remainder was at the switch. I thought the whole train was in
Stittsville, and he was putting one half on each sighting. Never before
heard the expression, "I had to cut to get in." I heard the instrument
calling me and went into the station. Despatcher asked me up for train
I wired "in", giving the time. Two passengers were in the waiting
room when I went to my instrument. Despatcher then ordered up freight
to cross down freight at Ashton and cancelled the first order. It was
my duty to give Hawes a duplicate of the order and get him to sign for
it. When the order was copied the train had gone, I supposed to some
other portion of the yard. I expected to give him the order as soon as
he entered; it was his duty to come in and book. It was my duty
to pull in the Nunn signal and not stop a train having the right of
way. When I received the order I displayed the signal, and when number
8 arrived I took it in. I considered it my duty having no orders for
number 8 I didn't display it a second time not wanting to stop the
Toronto express. When I got the order no trainman came in. A passenger
bought a ticket. From the time of my speaking to the man at the switch
and the passenger buying the ticket I spoke to no person; I heard no
one say: "don't let any train through until mine is made up." I
went outside again before 28 arrived. I supposed the special freight
was on the siding waiting for the Toronto express, and expected the man
at the switch would come in after it had passed. I flagged No. 28, and
thought the road to Ottawa was clear. I spoke to no person on that
train. After it had passed I reported to Carleton Junction and put up
the west signal. When I reported I went down to get the man to sign the
order, and it then dawned upon me what had happened. I expected to hear
of an accident, but could do nothing. Saw no one in the station but the
passengers previous to the arrival of the express. If anyone told me to
hold the train I cannot account for not hearing them. I only know I did
not hear any person whatever.
The inquest was then adjourned until Monday evening at 8 o'clock.
Ottawa Daily Citizen 26 October 1897
inquest into the death of the late Robert Hasteywill probably be
finished Wednesday evening. The jury in the case met last night, and
adjourned after Coroner Freeland had read a communication from the
physician attending McCuaig, the injured engineer, stating that the
injured man would be able to come down and give his evidence Wednesday
evening. It was also decided to summon the day operator at Stittsville.
Ottawa Daily Citizen 28 October 1897
McNish was recalled and repeated some of his evidence given at the
previous meeting. Owing to the injuries received by engineer McCuaig
being more serious than was at first anticipated, he was unable to be
present last night as expected, and the inquest was further adorned
until Tuesday evening next, when it is expected the injured man will be
John Russell, station agent at Stittsville and day
operator, stated that on the night of the 13th McNish relieved him
about seven o'clock. Witness gave him no instructions, as he considered
him competent to discharge his duties. Witness was called about six
o'clock to send a message from conductor Hawes to Ottawa. After some
difficulty a circuit was established and the message transmitted. It
was the Brakeman's duty to stay at Stittsville and flag the express.
M Spaidel, chief train dispatcher at Ottawa, was called and explained
the mode of train despatching. He had examined operator McNish as to
his knowledge of telegraphy and the rules of the road and found him
competent to perform all the duties of a night operator.
Mervin McNish was recalled and repeated some of his previous testimony,
and the inquest adjourned until Tuesday next (2/11) at 8 p.m.
Ottawa Daily Citizen 28 October 1897
John Russell Gives Evidence on the Duties of s Brakeman
inquest touching the death of the late James hastey, brakeman in the
recent C. P. R, accident, was again resumed at Rogers' morgue, Rideau
street last night. To new witnesses were examined. but nothing ol
importance wss elicited from their evidence. Operator McNish was
recalled and repeated some of his evidence given at the previous
meeting. Owing to the injuries received, by Engineet McCuaig being more
serious than was at first anticipated he waa unable to be present last
night as expected and the inquest was further adjourned until Tuesday
evening next. when it is expected the injured man will be present.
Russell, station agent at Stittsville and day operator, stated that on
the nigbt of the 13th McNish relieved him about seven, o'clock. Witness
gave him no instructions, as he considered him competent to discharge
his duties. Witness was called about six o'clock to send a message from
Conductor Hawes to Ottawa. After some difficulty a circuit was
established and the message transmitted. It was tbe brakeman's duty to
stay at Stittsville and flag the express..
Frederick M. Spaidal.
chief train despatcher at Ottawa, was called and explained the mode of
train despatching. He had examined Operator McNish as to his knowledge
of telegraphy and the rules of the road and found him competent to
perform all the duties of a night operator.
Then Mervin McNish was
recalled and repeated some of his previous testimony, and the inquest
adjurned until Tuesday next at 8 p.m.
Ottawa Daily Citizen 3 November 1897
Two of them indicted.
Manslaughter found in the C. P. R. Inquest.
Conductor Hawse and Engineer McCuaig of the Special Freight found guilty of willful carelessness - jury out several hours.
adjourned inquest into the C. P. R. Railway disaster, in which James
Hastey, Frank Larondeau, James Kennedy and Robert Peden lost their
lives, was continued last night, and after hearing the evidence of
engineer McCuaig, the case was given to the jury at 9.30.
this morning the jury returned a verdict of manslaughter against
conductor Harry Hawes and engineer Alex. McCuaig of the special
freight, for not having complied with the rules of the railway as
regards the flagging of approaching trains.
The lengthy sitting of
the jury was owing to some of the jurymen thinking that operator McNish
was equally culpable with conductor Hawes and engineer McCuaig. The
jurymen found conductor Hawes blamable for not having sent a flagman
ahead when he found the engineer McCuaig had failed to station one at
Stittsville, and that engineer McCuaig should have compelled Hastey to
remain at Stittsville.
Coroner Freeland issued warrants for the arrest of hawes and McCuaig at the close of the inquest.
McCuaig, who was the engineer on the special freight leaving Ottawa on
the morning of the accident and which collided with the Toronto
Express, was the only witness last night. He stated that he left Ottawa
at 3.25 a. m., with orders to proceed to Carleton Junction, crossing a
special down freight at Stittsville. The freight crossed the "Soo"
train at Britannia, and went on to the Bells Corners grade, where it
stuck. It was necessary to cut the train there, and witnesse took the
forward portion to Stittsville. Hastey, the deceased brakeman, went to
Stittsville with witness. They backed on a siding, and uncoupled the
engine from the cars. Hastey went into the station, and came out and
got on the engine. Witness asked him if they were to stop at
Stitsville. Hastey said: "No; I have told the operator not to let any
train through until we get back." Witness was on his seat in the engine
when Hastey told him. Hastey got on the engine, saying he had put up
the semaphores, and everything was all right. They then back to down to
the other portion of the train.
Witness thought he had complied with
rule 16 when he had left a flag man. Operator McNish was the flagman.
Witness relied on what the brakeman had told him. He understood that as
long as he left an employee of the road to flag he had complied with
On reaching the rear section they connected with
it, and started toward Stittsville. When witness noticed the headlight
of the express they were about eight or ten lengths apart. He applied
the brakes, reversed, and jumped. He broke his leg when he struck the
ground, and laid there for some time, and then crawled back to the van.
a juror, witness said that the red light of the east semaphore was
showing when he returned from Stittsville to the rear section of his
train at Bells Corners.
Eastern Ontario Review Friday 3 December 1897
Alex McQuaig, the engineer charged with manslaughter as a result of the accident at Stittsville, has been committed for trial.