passenger car in the picture
is 2nd class Pullman-built coach 300, in which most of the passengers
died, due to scalding steam from the locomotive boiler. The remaining
three (not five) passenger cars are still upright
behind the coach. The express-baggage car has run past the inverted
tender and derailed behind the photographer, without fatalities.
the papers reported that eight died in this wreck, the
total subsequently appears to have risen to ten. This
was effectively the end of racing between the CPR and CAR,
although on 17 July 1901, the largest 4-4-2 Atlantic was tested
over a measured mile at 92.75 mph. However the benefits of this speed
were apparently never reflected in running time to Montreal.
also may have been the last service for the almost brand new
Pullman-built car 300, which, although repaired, was
apparently destroyed in the Elgin Street car shop fire of 21
March 1902 and never again appeared on the roster.
From The Ottawa Free Press?
Eight dead in wreck.
Ottawa Aug. 9. The
train, which should have arrived here at noon today, jumped the track
St. Polycarpe Junction and Fireman Geo. McCuaig and a sectionman and a
class passenger, whose name cannot be ascertained, were killed.
It is supposed that the train jumped the track at the switch.
Engineer Orr was slightly injured and five passengers more or less
The accident was the first since the inception of the road and General
Manager Chamberlain was at a loss to imagine the cause of it.
The track at St. Polycarpe is as level as a floor and there are no
ditches. The track is
said to be about the best piece of road on the system and is
constructed with 73 pound steel rails. The fast express from Ottawa
to Montreal, which leaves the Central Depot at 8.40 passed over
the same track ten minutes before the ill fated express, crossing the
Montreal train at Coteau Junction.
The wreck train left Montreal at 9.40 o'clock and was due at Ottawa at
12.10. It was the fast express and was made up of a baggage
a second class, a first class, two parlour cars, a sleeper and the
Intercolonial parlour car.
Five of the cars left the track, the Intercolonial car and the sleeper
being the two rear cars remained on the rails.
So far as learned, the baggage car, the second class and the engine
were piled together in a heap. All the passengers that were
injured were in the
second class car.
The news spread around town with wonderful rapidity, and the most
exaggerated reports were prevalent.
Hundreds of people kept the telephones ringing and called at the
station to get news.
Friends of the excursionists, who went to Ste. Ann de Beaupre, were
especially anxious as it was
feared that some of the victims were on the train.
The special train with pilgrims to
Ste. Anne de Beaupre was shortly behind the regular at the
time of the wreck. It was due about two o'clock, but
it will not likely reach here before six o'clock.
Within an hour after the wreck, six doctors were on the scene attending
to the injured.
As the news of the accident spread
around the city people flocked down to the Central Depot
to await the arrival of the special train sent out to convey the
passengers to the city. Many had friends on board and were
extremely anxious to hear whatever news was going. Very
satisfactory, however, could be obtained, as the operators
at the wires were, according to the rules, forbidden to impart any
The killed so far as identified are O'Connor, Rochleau and Roach.
Later - the identified so far are:
Joseph Rochleau and daughter, of Champlain Street, Montreal.
Stairs, Ottawa. Wilson O'Connor, Ottawa.
The fatally injured are Nellie Ryan, Aridget Ryan and Ellen McDougall
of Maniwaki and Mrs. Jos Rochleau of Montreal.
Most of the dead and injured were pilgrims returning from Ste. Anne de
Ottawa Citizen 9 August 1899
C.A R. FAST EXPRESS JUMPS THE TRACK
Five People Are Dead and Three Injured as a Result of a Wreck at St Polycarpe.
Two Were Instantly Killed and Three Died Shortly After Being Taken From the Wreck.
GEORGE McCUAIG, fireman, Ottawa East.
EDWARD STARRS. Bay street, Ottawa.
WILSON O'CONNOR, in company with Starrs.
JOSEPH ROCHETEAU, Champlain street, Montreal.
MISS ROCHETEAU. Champlain street, Montreal.
ELLEN MeDOUGALL, Maniwaki, burned, will recover.
ELLEN RYAN, Maniwaki, burned, hands and face.
BRIDGET RYAN, Maniwaki, burned.
The above is a list of the dead and injured in an appalling accident which occurred on the Canada Atlantic railway this morning.
express train leaving Montreal at 9.40 and due in Ottawa at 12.10,
jumped the track at St. Polycarpe, near Coteau, with the above painful
George McCuaig, of Canal road, Ottawa East, locomotive
fireman, was crushed to death beneath his engine, and one of the
passengers killed outright. Three other passengers died shortly
after the accident.
The train was composed of an engine, baggage
car, second class car, one first class car, two parlor cars and an
I.C.R. coach and a sleeper. Only the last two cars remained on the
track the others being piled in the wreck.
The train was a through
express and one of the fastest run by the road. It left Montreal as
usual at 9.40 this morning with a heavy passenger list including, it is
presumed, several Ottawa people. It was in charge of Conductor James
Clark. The other hands were Engineer Robert Orr, George McCuaig,
fireman; Jno. Clarke, brakeman; Wm. A. McQuestion, baggageman, and
Alexander Milne, express agent. The engineer was only slightly injured,
while, with the exception of McCuaig, the other train hands were
fortunate enough to escape.
The part of the road where the
accident happened is perfectly level, without ditches, and covered with
72 pound rails. Ten minutes before the accident occurred the express
which left Ottawa at 8.45 this morning passed over the spot.
meagre details were obtainable this afternoon, and officials of the
road here are unable to account for the most fearful calamity that has
ever happened on their line.
In addition to the wrecking train
from Ottawa, two crews were ordered out from Coteau and the line is
expected to be cleared in a few hours. The passengers, as well as those
injured, will be brought to Ottawa as soon as possible.
Six doctors were on hand from the neighborhood.
The Dead Fireman.
McCuaig. the fireman killed at St. Polycarpe this morning, was a young
man about twenty-two years of age. He resided on the canal road, Ottawa
East, and is a son of Mr. McCuaig. employed with Bryson, Graham &
Co. He had been employed on the road as fireman for over a year and was
a steady and industrious young man. McCuaig left Ottawa at 4.20 last
News of young McCuaig'a death was quickly conveyed to his parents, who were nearly hysterical with grief over the shocking new.
Starrs, one of the victims ot the wreck, was an express man residing
with his mother, Mr. Mary Starrs, at 259 Bay street. He had been out of
the city for a few days and was returning home from a vacation.
Wrecking Train Sent.
soon as intelligence of the accident was received a wrecking train was
quickly made up and left for the scene of the disaster, followed
immediately by a number of passenger cars to convey the injured and
others to Ottawa. Dr. Powell was quickly summoned and went to St.
Polycarpe at 11.30 a.m. in company with Mr. Morley Donaldson,
superintendent of the road; J. E. Walsh, passenger agent, and Mr. F. H.
Chrysler, the company's solicitor.
Passed Over the Switch.
crew of the Boston express, due In Ottawa at 11.20 a.m. and which left
Montreal 90 minutes ahead of the wrecked train, knew nothing of the
disaster till their train arrived in Ottawa. Everything was in good
shape when this train passed through St. Polycarpe Junction. The
junction had recently been fitted with a new style of switch, which
heretofore had given entire satisfaction.
Returning From the Shrine
list of passengers included several pilgrims returning from Ste. Anne
de Beaupre, who went on the excursion from Ottawa to that place on
Monday. None of these, as far as can be learned, were injured. Every
one on the train was more or less severely shaken up. but the above is
an accurate list of the dead or those who sustained injuries of any
How It Happened
The accident, it is said, was due to the
switch being open, and again it is supposed the cause was the spreading
of the rails or a broken rail. As yet no word has been received from
the wrecking train sent to he scene of the disaster.
with the dead and injured and the passengers is expected to arrive in
Ottawa at 5.30 this afternoin. Until then full details of the accident
and how it happened cannot be obtainable.
Ottawa Journal 9 August 1899
FIVE KILLED FOUR INJURED
Canada Atlantic Train Wrecked This Morning. One Ottawa Man Killed and Another Injured
morning when the Montreal and Ottawa express of the Canada Atlantic
Railway was speeding into St. Polycarpe station the engine left the
track taking with it the baggage car and second class coach.
fireman, Geo.. McCuaig, of Ottawa East, and one unknown second class
passenger were instantly killed .The engineer Robt. Orr and five second
class passengers were seriously injured. The only information which can
be had concerning the accident is a statement given by Mr. C J. Smith,
general freight and passenger agent for the company.
Mr. Smith's Statement.When
seen by a Journal reporter Mr. Smiith said:- "The accident, as far as
we can learn at present, occurred at 10.35 this morning. The train left
the track just outside of St. Polycarpe station which is about five
miles on this side of Coteau Junction. The engine, the baggage car and
second class car left the track and turned over on their sides, while
the first class coach. the Montreal chair car and the Intercolonial
sleeper remained on the rails. The fireman, Geo. McCuaig and one
unknown passenger were killed, while Robert Orr, the engineer, and five
passengers, whose names we cannot get were seriously injured.
"Doctors from Alexandria. Coteau and St. Justine were sent to the scene as soon as possible to attend to the injured.
A Train Sent OutAs
soon as the word reached Ottawa," said Mr. Smith, "we sent out a
special train with Dr. R.W. Powell, Superintendent M. Donaldson and
general passenger agent, J. E. Walsh, to look after the passengers, and
attend to the injured. The wrecking train was also sent out at once.
A Mystery. "The
cause of the accident is something which leaves us at a loss to account
for. The road for seven miles on either side is level, and heavily
ballasted. The rails are also very heavy, and as we considered, the
most secure on the line.
peculiar point is that while the engine and the first two cars left the
track the remaining three cars remained on. This is the first serious
accident to a passenger train which we have ever had."
Three Hours Delay.The wrecked train was due to arrive in Ottawa at 12.10, but was delayed by the accident, for over three hours.
A RAILWAY SUPERSTITION.There
will be uneasiness among the C. A. employees for some time now owing to
a general superstition among the railroad employees that accidents
never come singly. In the experience of the road it is said two other
accidents usually occur within a short time of the first accident. One
of the employees to-day told the Journal that the men noticed this
peculiarity and would look for the accidents.
CONTRACTOR STUART ON BOARD. Contractor
Wm. Stuart, of Ottawa, is known to be on the train, but as he was
travelling first clas it is not thought that he has been injured.
LATER, 2.30 P. M. Chief
Despatcher Duval, of the C. A. R. has received the following report
from the wreck: Ned Starrs, of 298 Bay street, Ottawa, and a friend by
the name of Wilson O'Connor, along with J. Rocheteau and
daughter, of Montreal, have died from the injuries sustained in the
O'Connor's place of residence is not known to the railway officials.
Rocheteau and his daughter come from Champlain street, Montreal.
are injured, but will live: Ellen McDougal, Ellen Ryan and Bridget
Ryan, all of Maniwaki. They are badly burned. The special train with
the injured will arrive in the city about 4.30.
THE INJURED EMPLOYEES. Robert
Orr, engineer of the C. A. R., who had charge of the train and was
injured, lives at 471 Gladstone avenue. He is one of the oldest and
most reliable men on the road. He is not fatally injured.
George McCuaig, the fireman, was unmarried, and lived with his parents in Ottawa East.
Ottawa Citizen 10 August 1899
JUMPS THE TRACK
Eight people Are Dead and Four Injured as a Result of a Wreck at St. Polycarpe Yesterday Morning.
Seven Died From Scalds - Cause of the Accident a Mystery - Statements of the Engineer and Others.
Lists dead and injured
Dead. 8; injured. 4.
is the result of the appalling accident which occurred at St. Polycarpe
junction yesterday forenoon by the wrecking of the C. A. R. limited
train, bound from Montreal to the Capital.
Two of the eight victims,
George McCuaig, Ottawa East, and Edward Starrs, of this city, were
instantly killed. The other six have died since their removal from the
The injured have all been removed to Ottawa and have been
placed in the city hospitals or are receiving medical attention at
The accident occurred at 10.43 a.m. The fast express,
at that hour, having orders from Coteau to Alexandria, was passing
tnrough St. Polycarpe at a rate of fifty miles an hour, when suddenly
at the eastern switch at the entrance to the station yard the
locomotive left the track, derailing with it a baggage car, a second
class car and a first class passenger coach which were immediately
behind the locomotive. Two Pullman coaches which made up the rear of
the train, remained on the track.
The first and second class
coaches were unusually well filled with passengers, as many of those on
board were returning excursionists from St. Anne de Beaupre.
the passengers who met their death were in the second class coach which
was hurled with great force against the derailed locomotive. These
victims wedged into the car, all perished from the effects of escaping
steam from the engine. Fireman McCuaig was crushed to death beneath the
THE ENGINEER'S STORY
Mr. Orr Cannot Explain What Caused the Wreck
man best qualified to tell how the wreck occurred is Robert Orr, the
engineer of the ill-fated train. Mr. Orr was brought to Ottawa last
evening, and is now confined to his bed at his home on Gladstone
avenue. He is suffering from strained tendons in the left leg, caused
by dragging his foot which was unaccountably held, from the wrecked cab
by main force. Mr. Orr's face is also badly scalded. It will be about
three weeks before he is able to be out again.
"How do you account for the accident?" asked the reporter.
cannot account for it at all., replied Mr. Orr. "We were making regular
running time not going as fast as we do at many other places on the
line: not as fast as we do even at the point going he other way.
because we were going upgrade. But the rate of speed has nothing to do
with it. The accident would have been just as bad at half the rate of
speed. The track at that point is in the best of condition - having
steel rails, lots of ballast and good ties. I have never, myself, felt
the lightest shock there. The switch, too, was all right. No one can
tell how the accident happened, because nobody knows. In my whole
experience I only remember one instance in which a similar accident
occurred. It might not happen again in twenty years."
the sensation he experienced at the time of the accident, Mr. Orr said:
"I can't just describe my feelings: it all happened so quickly. The
whole thing seems to me now like a dream. One moment there was the
monotonous throb of the engine as it forged ahead; the next moment it
jumped from the track, plunged ahead a few rods, lunged into the ditch
and we were enveloped in steam and surrounded by debris. At the first
intimation of danger I shut off the steam. and had partially turned on
the air brakes. In doing this I hurt my right thumb, which, as you see
is badly swollen. At.the same time. I attempted to drag the fireman out
of danger with my left hand. I saw him fall the other way and tried to
grab him but failed. My left leg was pinioned, and the steam kept
puffing into my face. I turned the other way, and then did all I could
to free my left foot. I resolved to drag myself out at all costs.
Anything to get away from that awful steam; anything to keep myself
from suffocating to death. Finally, I did so. It was marvelous how I
escaped at all. The cab is a total wreck. There is nothing left but the
number plate on the side upon which I was sitting - nothing else."
OBSTRUCTION IN THE "FROG."
Mr. J. W. Smith Thinks This Caused Ihe Accident.
John W. Smith, private secretary to the general manager, of the C.A.R.
company, was among the passengers on the wrecked train, and had a
miraculous escape. He was returning from Old Orchard Beach. Mr.Smith
being an old railroad man. and well acquainted.with the construction of
locomotives, frequently rides on one when making a trip. Yesterday
morning he talked with Engineer Robert Orr in Montreal while the latter
was oiling up his engine. and was about to get on it when he noticed
Mr. F. W. Powell, and went with him to the Pullman. Later on. when near
Coteau, Mr. Smith started to go ahead, and get the fresh air on the
locomotive, but as if forewarned that something would happen, he
returned to the Pullman. A few minutes later the crash occurred, and in
all probability his decision to remain in the car resulted in his life
Mr. Smith last night gave a Citizen reporter a description of the frightful calamity of which he was a witness
left Montreal," he said, "sharp on time, at 9.40, and the train was
proceeding at its usual rate of about fifty miles an hour at the time
of the accident. I was sitting in the Pullman just as we passed St.
Polycarpe station I felt a sudden jolt. followed by a crash and the
noise of escaping steam, our car was lifted off the track, but remained
on its wheels. As soon as possible I went out and ran to the head of
the train to see if the engineer was hurt. I found the tender lifted
completely over the locomotive, the baggage car at one side of the
tender, and the second-class coach butted up against the boiler. The
end of this car was torn out. and the whole enclosure was like a
seething cauldron, the steam completely filling it, and scalding those
who were so unfortunate as to be inside.
"Look After the Fireman."
ran over to Bob Orr. the engineer, picked him up, and carried him over
to the fence. He was badly shaken up and very weak, and I procured a
stimulant for him. Orr said, 'lLook after the fireman.' McCuaig was
pinned beneath the second-class car and was dead.
"I then went to
that car and helped to get out two or three of the injured passengers.
After this I telegraphed to Ottawa for assistance and sent to the
village for doctors and a priest, who were quickly on hand. As soon as
the physicians arrived the injured were removed to the hotels. Starrs,
O'Connor, Rocheleau and McCuaig were dead then. Mrs. Rocheleau and
daughter and Bridget Ryan died at the hotel.
"Just as soon as
possible we commenced to get the wreck cleared up and before the
wrecking crew arrived from outside the section men connected the main
track with the siding and thus provided a way for the passing of the
"As soon as the dead and injured were removed I started to
find out the cause of the accident. I examined the switch and found it
all right, but a part of the frog was torn out. In my opinion the
accident was due to some obstruction in the frog. A little piece of
iron in it would have caused the accident. A careful examination,
however, failed to give any explanation..
"Shortly after this the
relief train arrived from Ottawa, and everything was done to relieve
the sufferers, who were sent on to Ottawa as soon as possible.
Groans of the Dying.
never forget that sight." continued Mr. Smith: "the groans of the
injured and dying, with their bodies horribly scalded, the shrieks of
excited women and children, the hissing of escaping steam, and one body
pinned beneath the wreck. It was something terrible. It was all done in
an instant, and with awful suddenness. The employes of the road worked
like Trojans to relieve the passengers, and, while injured tnemseives,
did everything in their power to alleviate the sufferings of others.
train," said Mr. Smith, in conclusion, "was running at its usual speed,
not extra fast, and the rails, frog, ballast and everything were of the
best class, so that it is impossible to account for tne accident."
BRAVE WILLIAM McQUESTION!
Allthough Badly Scalded He Walked a Mile to Flag an Approaching Train
John H. Roberts, of Ottawa East, who is a conductor on the C. A. R.,
was a passenger on the express. He was on his way from the lower St.
Lawrence, accompanied by his wife, daughter and little niece. He was
sitting in the first class coach when the engine took the fearful leap.
He states that the sensation was that of the train rocking violently
for a second or so and then coming to a sudden standstill. His wife and
daughter were in the Pullman and were thown over the seats. None of the
pasengers in the first class car were injured but were considerably
The mirarulous escape of the baggage man. John
McGillis, was accounted for by the fact that the car which he and the
express messenger. Wm. Milne, occunied went to the north side of the
track, while the second class coach followed the engine on the south
side, and striking the top of it smashed in the steam dome, allowing
the live steam to escape into the car.
Wm. McQuestion, the brakeman.
was sitting on the outside of the seat which Starrs occupied. Mr.
Roberts states that McQuestion worked like a hero. He assisted in
taking out the passengers from the car filled with scalding steam. This
was all acomplished in about ten minutes and then McQuestion walked
back a mile and flagged the Boston train which was coming.
Mr. Roberts had just left the second class coach a few minutes before the crash occurred.
scene of the wreck was visited by hundreds of people from all the
surrounding districts. The women acted as nurses and did everything
possible to ease the sufferings of the victims.
J. McGillis, the baggage man, stated to a Citizen reporter that it all
occurred so quickly that he did not know anything till he got out of
his car which was lying partly on its side. McCuaig was caught about
the body and chest, between the brake beam and wheels of the engine.
And his death was instantaneous.
AS VIEWED BY OTHERS.
Passengers State Railway Officials Did Everything Possible for Sufferers
Boyd Edwards was returning from Riviere du Loup in company with his
mother, Mrs. J.C. Edwards. They were in the first class coach when the
smash-up occurred and were thrown from their seats to the floor
but escaped without any injury. Owing to the accident the front door of
the car would not open and a little difficulty was experienced in
making an exit.
They finally got out by the rear door and all those in the car escaped.
Edwards states that the sight of the people being scalded to death by
the escaping steam and the shrieks of terrified survivors, was of a
most appalling character.
After the excitement was somewhat
allayed, the ladies returned to the Pullman and remained there until
the passenger train arrived.
Davison, hotel keeper, of By ward market square, was in the first-class
coach. He felt the heavy jolt, but was not thrown from his seat. Mr.
Davison said he got out just as soon as possible, and found the tender
and baggage car beyond the engine and everything in an uproar. McCuaig.
the fireman, was then pinned beneath the locomotive, and those
passengers who were in the second-class coach and were not dead
already, were frightfully scalded. All the cars except the two rear
ones were off the track, with their wheels partly buried in the earth.
man McQuestion," said Mr. Davison, "is a hero. He was badly scalded
about the head, but took his handkerchief and wrapped around it and
then ran down the track with a red flag to signal the special train
returning from Ste. Anne de Beaupre, which was then in sight. Had he
not done this the train would likely have crashed into the wreck, and
resulted in an additional disaster.
"About fifty men were brought
up from the elevator at Coteau and helped to clear the track and assist
those who were injured. The railway employes were wholly unable to
account for the accident. They worked nobly and did everything in their
power for the victims."
SAD SCENE AT CENTRAL DEPOT.
Injured Child's Cries Brought Tears to Many Eyes.
scenes at the Central depot when the train which carried the passengers
and injured rolled in at 6.15 yesterday evening, was one which will
long be remembered by those who witnessed it. The platform was crowded
with two thousand curious people, who struggled and fought frantically
for places of vantage from which to get a glimpse of those who had been
injured. Lined up along the outside of the platform were the ambulances
from the various hospitals and several undertakers' wagons. At some
distance from the ambulance seven shell coffins lay in three express
rigs of a local undertaker. rendy to be shipped to St. Polycarpe, in
which to place the remains of the dead victims.
The injured were in the last car which had been converted into a temporary hospital.
Orr, the engineer, was assisted out first, and placed in a hack. Then
William McQuestion came out on the platform, was helped down, and
placed in St. Luke's hospital ambulance, and removed to that
insti:utlon. Next those who were more seriously injured were attended
to and lifted out tenderly and placed in the ambulances.
On a cot
in the rear of the hospital car there tossed restlessly a little form
which was taken up carefully by Mr. Thomas Kane, the engineer, and
placed in the ambulance. The little fellow was Contrant Rocheleau of
Montreal, whose father, mother and sister had been killed outright. The
poor little fellow cried piteously and the sight of the big, burly
engineer carrying him out was one which touched every heart.
before the train arrived the area around the station was besieged by
hundreds of people, and when the injured were being removed, it
required the greatest effort of the police to keep them away till the
victims could be placed in the ambulances.
When everyone had been
removed the regular 6.45 train backed in, and the seven coffin shells
were put in the baggage car to be taken down to the scene of the
STEAM RETARDED RESCUE.
Mr. F. W. Powell, a Passenger, Describes the Scene After the Wreck.
Frederick W. Powell, manager of the Rideau Lumber company, was one of
the passengers in the Pullman car on the wrecked train. "We were not
even badly shaken up," said he. "When the catastrophe happened the cars
made one or two jumps as the steam brakes were put on. And then we
stood stock still. With Mr. J.W. Smith, the general manager's
secretary, who was in the car with me, I rushed out and beheld the
wreck. On the right hand side of the track the engine was in the ditch,
leaning towards the track, with the second-class passenger car almost
on top of it, and partially upon the track. To the left was the express
and baggage car, and this we subsequently ascertained, had gone over
the other two. In some miraculous fashion the express and baggage-men
had escaped all injuries. We, of course, immediately set to work to
rescue those who were imprisoned within the passenger car, and which
was rapidly tilling with steam. Notwithstanding our utmost endeavors,
even these efforts were unavailing in some instances. The Grand Trunk
sent down its steam derrick from Montreal. It is a beautiful machine;
it could easily lift this house and place it on the other side of the
street with the greatest ease. The work that it performed soon resulted
in the track being cleared of the wreckage."
AID TO THE SUFFERERS.
Many Doctors on Hand to Lend Medical Assistance
wrecking train left the C. A. R depot about 11.45 a.m. It had on board,
besides the railway surgeon. Dr. R. W. Powell. Messrs. Edson J.
Chamberlain, general manager; Morley Donaldson, general superintendent:
George A. Mountain, chief engineer, and J. C. Walsh, general passenger
agent, and F. H. Crysler. the company's solicitor. As this was the
tirst time in the history of the line that any of the company's
passengers had been killed, the offiicials naturally were in a great
state of mind. Messrs. Chamberlain and Donaldson had just returned from
Parry Sound, and scarcely more than an hour elapsed before they were
started off upon the new and more serious errand. Dr. Powell, of
course, went down on behalf of the railway company. The general
manager's car was attached to the wrecking train, and all of its
occupants were, as a consequence, most comfortable. The train reached
St. Polycarpe about 2 o'clock This train was followed about a mile in
the rear by a special passenger train, to bring those who were impeded
in their journey to the city.
On arriving at the scene of the
disaster it was found that the wounded had been well cared for having
been comfortably esconced in beds in the two hotels. Local physicians
and those from the surrounding district, among the latter being Dr.
MacDermid, Maxwell [sic]; Dr. McMullan, Alexandria: and Dr. Perrier,
Coteau, had already dressed the wounds.
"The injuries." said Dr.
Powell, "were chiefly occasioned by steam. The cupola of the engine was
knocked off by the second-class passenger car as it was impelled along
by the momentum of the cars behind, and the sides of this car being
displaced in the general wreckage, the steam from the engine's boiler
rapidly affected those within. The inhaling of the steam and the direct
scalding occasioned their death. The six then dead were laid in the
freight shed when we arrived: the wounded had been removed to the
hotels. Much praise is due to the resident physicians for their
promptitude in relieving the sufferings, and the company's officials
were assiduous in their attentions Nothing was left undone on the part
of the latter to mitigate the effect of the injuries the unfortunates
had sustained. A Miss Ryan, of Maniwaki, was in a dying condition when
the train left for this city, and I did not think we would be justified
in attempting to remove her. Instructions were, however, left by the
railway authorities with the local physicians to give her every
DESCRIPTION OF THE WRECK.
Coaches Badly Smashed Up -The Work of Rescue
Citizen reporter arrived on the scene of the disaster shortly after six
o'clock. All was indescribable disorder. The magnificent rolling stock
which made up the wrecked train, and which ordinarily presents such an
appearance of unmovable strength, was hurled off the track, and piled
up on all sides as if by a giant's power. The train as it sped on
towards the fatal spot, consisted of the eight-wheel Baldwin express
locomotive No. 264. and tender, a baggage car, second class car. first
class coach and the vestibuled cars Cascapedia and Fironza. the former
of which belongs to the Intercolonial railway.
the engine took its awful plunge, followed by the tender, the coupling
between the latter and the baggage car snapped short, and the car shot
off the track on the opposite side to that taken by the locomotive. The
baggage car crashed through the end of a freight car standing on an
adjoining siding, and landed in the ditch on its side. As stated above,
John McGillis, baggageman and Alexander Milne, express messenger, who
occupied the car, escaped with only a severe shaking up.
for the occupants of the second class car, it did not follow the
preceding baggage coach when it left the track, but continuing partly
on the rails, came into violent contact with the derailed engine. The
front trucks of the first class car were buried in the roadbed but this
car and the two vestibule cars were left on the track, although partly
forced off their trucks.
The occupants of these escaped without injury.
the wreck is an aspect of ghastly grandeur. The iron work of the engine
and coaches and even the rails themselves, are distorted and displaced,
while the second class coach and box car present a sorry appearance,
the wood work in both being badly shattered, and the fixtures in the
coach scattered in every direction.
"Will No One Help Me."
The story of the eye-witnesses of the disaster is a tale of an awful scene.
Paris, colored porter on the vestibuled car Cascepedia, stated to the
Citizen reporter that he was standing in his car when the crash came.
"I was taken off my feet and thrown over four seats," he stated. "When
I regained my feet. I made a rush for the doors, but found both stuck
fast. I shouted to the brakeman, who released me and I then made a rush
for the second class coach."
"Mr. Paris was the first to the
rescue of the imprisoned passengers and he did gallant work. He states
the coach was a very inferno of scalding, blinding steam, and dense
black smoke. The air resounded with the shrieks, moans and piercing
cries for help from the carful of men. women and children.
Paris and Brakeman McQuestion, with great presence of mind, broke open
the windows and by thus providing for the escape of the death dealing
steam arnd smoke, lessened the danger for those inside.
attracted by the pitiful appeal for help made by a woman in the rear ot
the car. "For God's sake." she screamed "will no one help me and my
children." The porter caught her by the shoulders and dragging her
through the nearest window, carried her to an adjacent field. He
returned to the wreck and assisted in freeing the children and another
The trainmen were now joined in the work of rescue by
several of the townspeople and section hands. As the steam dome of the
boiler had been broken in by the roof of the car, the blinding,
scalding steam continued to pour through the car, greatly hampering the
work of rescue. Several of the rescuers were beaten back, and though
they could hear the piercing cries of pain and the appeals for help,
they could not in the disordor, increased by the clouds of steam, see
to go about the work systematically or speedily.
Mr. John Durrett,
porter of the vestibuled car Fironza, stated to the Citizen reporrter
that he was standing in his car when the crash came. "It was a terribly
sudden one.and threw me headlong to the side of the car. When I
recovered myself I rushed at once to the second-class coach. The scene
there, he states, was one of wildest chaos, the occupants being shut in
in a very cauldron of steam, suffered intensely, and their shrieks and
appeals, high above the sound of the escaping steam itself, were
piteous to hear. Mr. Durrett took part in the work of rescue, and he
states the other trainmen did heroic service. The presence of mind of
brakesman McQuestion and Porter Paris, who broke in the windows he
said, saved several lives, as it freed the coach of the steam and also
gave the rescuers a better opportunity to reach the victims.
Died at His Post.
MrCuaig was struck down at his post of duty. When found after the
accident, it was seen that his body was wedged in between the cab of
the engine and the ironwork of the second-class coach. He was badly cut
about the head, his skull was crushed in, and his body also
severely cut. When the body was freed from its encumbrances after three
hours work, it was almost unrecognizable, as the face was completely
covered with mud and blood. The rescuing party was forced to tear away
the woodwark [sic] of the coach and dig away the earth to get at the
John King, brother-in-law of the dead fireman, heard of the
accident in Montreal. whither he had proceeded from Ottawa. He caught
the wrecking train out of Montreal, and after the rescue of his young
relative, took charge of the body and brought it to the sorrow-stricken
The only eye-witnesses of the disaster were Station Master St.
Amour and two young lads who were on the station platform. Mr. St.
Amour states that the whole thing was like a flash. He saw the engine
rear up and topple over, but at this sight he turned and fled, fully
expecting that the oncoming train would crash through the station.
G.T.R. Sends Assistance.
the first news of the disaster Assistant Superintendent Herbert, of the
G. T. R. wired from Montreal an offer of the company's wrecking
apparatus. This was forthwith accepted and the well-equipped auxiliary
arrived at the scene of the wreck at 1 p.m. The C A. R. auxiliary from
Ottawa, with the officials and medical men. arrived about 45 minute
later. The movable parts of the rolling stock were placed aside, and
the baggage car shifted to permit of the buiding of a temporary track
around the wreck Thus through traffic was established. The wreck, it is
expected, will be all cleared away early this morning, as by means of
the powerful G. T. R. lifting crane, the coaches and engine can be
hoisted into position for removal. The assistance of the G. T. R. was
very valuable, as considerable time was saved by the wrecking gang's
early and effective work. Fortunately none of the wreckage took fire,
as is the case so often. Had this occurred the horrors of the situation
can scarcely be pictured, there being but poor means to fight the fire
The damage to the rolling stock is about $12,000.. The second
class coach is a complete wreck, but the remainder of the train, with
the exception of the engine, can be repaired at slight expense. The
tru:ks will have to be repaired and the coaches replaced on them
Scene Viewed by Hundreds.
day long the scene of the disaster was visited by throngs from the
country side and neighboring towns. Many of the returning pilgrim from
Ste. Anne de Beaupre walked from Coteau Junction, five miles distant,
while others came up from Montreal. The bodies of !he seven victims
were conveyed to the freight shed, where they were held awaiting the
coroner's inquest. They were in a row in the dimly lighted room, and
covered by rude shrouds. All were badly scalded about the face
and arms, but bore no other signs of the disaster.
Superintendent Donaldson, of the C.A.R., was on the scene overlooking
the work of clearing the track. To the Citizen reporter. Mr. Donaldson
said the stretch of road bed where the accident happened, was one of
the best constructed on the line, "I have investigated everything
thoroughly." he stated, "and cannot account for the accident in any
way." The joints of the frogs were all in perfect shape. The guard
rails were in place and no broken rail could be discovered at the scene
of the accident.
Jury Brought in a Verdict Against the Company
4.30 in the afternoon a jury was empaneled bv Coroner Edward McMahon of
Montreal. The remains of the seven victims of the wreck having been
viewed, and the evidence of the train hands and others taken, after
thirty minutes' deliberation, the jury brought in a verdict censuring
the company for running trains at a high rate of speed over a roadbed
not suitable for such purposes.
The cause of death of the seven victims was given as scalding.
most important evidence was that given by Mr. Thomas Stapledon, the
station agent at Coteau. In his opinion the accident was due to the
presence of some obstacle in the frog, which caused the engine to jump
the rails. Mr. Stapledon thought this might have been dropped in
accidentally, or with the intention of wrecking the train.
Rheaume. section foreman, testified that the roadbed was in first-class
shape.and had been inspected just before the accident. He stated it
would require at least sixteen poor ties in a rail-length to weaken it.
Superintendent Donaldson gave evidence to the same effect, as also did Isaac Johnston, engineer, and T. Marteau. sectionman
Jean Prieux gave medical testimony, he stated the victims died from
internal and external injuries, directly due to scalding. As the jury
was composed of Frenchmen the evidence was taken in that language. The
following composed the jury: Joseph Pharand (foreman), Fabrian
Beriault, A. Ranger. A. Carrier, Alex. Blondin. Orphia Beriault,
Dolphin Monpetit, Andrew Paquin, Jean Amlancort, Etienne Avon, Wilbrod
Joly, Alex. Methut, J. Gladin. F. Cholette, E. Lalonde.
THE CONDUCTOR'S STORY
Rescue of the Dead and Dying From the Second Class Wreck
James Clarke, who was in charge of the ill-fated train, when approached
last evening on his return to Ottawa, desired to remain silent, but
this morning consented to an interview as to the accident. He said :
"My train left Montreal on time, also was on time leaving Coteau and
when the accident occurred we were only making our schedule time of
about 55 miles an hour.
"On leaving Coteau I went through the second
class car picking up the tickets. The first passengers I met in this
car were three ladies from Maniwaki coming from St. Anne de Beaupre.
They happened to occupy the smoking compartment of the car. I invited
them to come to the rear end of the train and left Brakeman McQuestion
with them to bring them back. I got through taking up the tickets in
the first class coach and was entering the Pullman when I felt the
crash. I knew from the way the brakes went on the train was ditched. I
immediately made my way out of the train and ran direct to the front
end to see if the engineer and crew were safe. Engineer Orr was sitting
in the ditch close by the engine. I helped him out into the field and
in doing so gave a glance to see where the fireman was. I could not see
"I immediately went into the second class car through a window.
The car was full of steam. I broke several of the windows. Brakeman
McQuestion and Express Messenger Milne entered the car with me. We were
the only three people in the car to help the passengers. We did all we
could to get the people out and at last succeeded. The heat was
terrible and the escaping steam so saturated our clothing that it was
soaking wet when we got through.
"There were nine persons in the
car. We took out the women and children first. As soon as I entered I
noticed Starrs sitting in his seat. He was then dead. O'Connor waa
sitting in the same seat with him, but still alive. Getting out the
women and children we then turned our attention to O'Connor. He died
shortly after being taken out.
"After getting everybody out of the
car I examined the track. It was in the finest condition, tbe best bit
on the line and could stand any amount of speed. One could not run a
train fast enough at that point to derail it. I examined the 'frog.'
There was no mark on the point of the 'frog,' but a portion of it was
torn out such as might be caused by something dropping from tbe front
of the engine and wedging in the 'frog,' thus derailing. the train.
the engine turned to the right instead of to the left no one in the
second class coach would have been injured, but turning to the left, as
it did. tbe engine discharged its full boiler of steam into the coach
where the passengers were."
Conductor Clarke sent for the Bishop of
St. Polycarpe. who came within five minutes after the accident and gave
the necessary attendance to rhe victims before they died.
Clarks [sic] has been running on trains for 13 years and this is the
first serious accident that has ever happened to his train.
THE EIGTH VICTIM
Contrand Rocheleau Dies in Water Street Hospital
Rocheleau, the eighth victim of yesterday's railwav disaster, died this
morning at 6.30 at the Water street general hospital. The little
fellow's death removes the last of the Rocheleau family which left
Montreal for Ottawa yesterday and the most of whom were dashed from
time to eternity without a moment's warning. Littte Rocheleau suffered
terriblv at the hospital during the night and gradually grew weaker
until relieved by death. The body was taken to Montreal this morning
and was accompanied by Mr. J. L. St. Jean, of St. Patrick street.
everything is quiet along the line of railway. The trains left and
arrived on time but the passenger list was not large, owing not so much
to the accident as to the fact that travel is rather quiet at present
on all the roads..
More - not transcribed