Details of Railway Accidents in the Ottawa Area

1916,  May 24 - Crossing collision at Morrisburg, GTR., two fatalities.

Morrisburg Leader 26 May 1916

Terrible Tragedy
West-bound 12.48 G. T. R. Express Crashes into Buggy; Two Killed; Two Seriously Injured

A gloom was cast over the merriment of the Victoria Day visitors to Morrisburg caused by the tragedy which occurred shortly after one o'clock at the G. T. R. crossing on the Gravel Road when the west-bound local express No. 7, engine no. 191 in charge of engineer King and conductor McConachie of Montreal, crashed into a buggy occupied by Mr. Clint Castleman and three daughters, Gladys, Cassie, and Olive, of Elma, badly mutilating the bodies of the two eldest daughters, Gladys aged 14, and Cassie, age 12, and in the twinkling of an eye, snatching from their bodies the spirit, which a moment before pulsated with youthful vigour and activity. Olive, the youngest daughter, and the father, were seriously injured and miraculously escaped death. They were picked up unconscious and rushed to Dr. Mulloy's office where the wounds were dressed, after which they were put on board the train and removed to Brockville General Hospital, accompanied by coroner Mulloy. Mr. Casselman, it is reported, is suffering from concussion of the brain, and one leg is broken in two places. Olive is suffering from a broken jaw and a broken leg.

The horse was also badly mutilated and was carried on the " cowcatcher " a distance of about 75 yards.
Thus, the day's merriment was suddenly thrown into a mourning which fell as a pall upon the hundreds who viewed the terrible tragedy.
In the absence of coroner Mulloy, Dr. McLaughlin viewed the bodies of the two eldest daughters, and had the remains removed to Marsh & Sons undertaking parlours

After the arrival of coroner Locke a jury was impanelled who viewed the remains and the inquest was adjourned until June 1st.

The circumstances which surround the unfortunate incident will be duly revealed by the evidence at the inquest, but the expression was general by those who viewed the remains, including a number of travelers, that the Gravel Road crossing having a stretch of buildings at the approach which obstruct the view from an incoming west-bound train for some 50 yards, is the most dangerous in this Province. This is a condition which should be brought to the attention of the Railway Commission, and Wednesday's tragedy is one which commands the cooperation of local authorities to see that proper steps be taken for the safety of the large traffic between Williamsburg and Morrisburg on the Gravel Road which necessitates crossing the G. T. R. at this point.

Ottawa Citizen 25 May 1916

Williamsburg Man's Daughters Killed in Accident.

BROCKVILLE. May 24. Gladys and Cassie Casselman, elder daughters of Clinton Casselman, of North Williamsburg, were instantly killed this afternoon when the horse their father was driving became unmanageable and plunged into the No. 7 westbound G. T. R. express near Morrisburg.
The father with his three daughters was en route to Morrisburg to attend a celebration. Casselman and his youngest daughter, Olive, received injuries that necessitated their removal to the General Hospital here and each is in a critical condition. Casselman has a fractured hip and the daughter a fractured jaw and leg.

Morrisburg Leader 2 June  1916

Adjorurned inquest
Jury's Verdict - Negligence on Part of G. T. R. In Not Properly Guarding Dangerous Crossing

Pursuant to adjournment, the inquest for the hearing of the evidence in connection with the tragedy which occurred at the Gravel Road crossing on the 24th of May, was held Thursday afternoon, June 1st at the town-hall Morrisburg, Coroner Locke presiding.  Crown attorney Dingwell of Cornwall, represented the crown, Mr Irwin Hilliard, K. C., M. P. P., for Mr. Casselman, and Messrs. J. P. Pratt and W. C. Mills for the G. T. R.
Some twenty-five witnesses were heard, the first two being doctors Malloy and Locke, who testified that the Casselman girls, Cassie and Gladys, were killed almost instantaneously when struck by train.
Engineer King of Montreal, who was in charge of the engine on the 24th of May, said the train was due to leave Montreal at 9.20, they were 10 minutes late leaving Cornwall and 10 minutes late when the accident happened. He thought it only 5 or 6 seconds after he saw the rig approaching that the engine struck the horse on the side; he had applied  the emergency brakes and had blown the whistle before the engine struck which was going at a rate of about 30 miles an hour. The train kept on going a distance of about seven car lengths before it came to a standstill, he said. He had had no instructions to watch this particular crossing on account of buildings at approach. It was about 12.58 when he arrived at crossing. The witness could not say positively what was the shortest distance a train could be stopped in when going at 30 miles an hour. " I came to the conclusion when I first saw the man approached. If he kept on going ahead he would be safe," he said.
Robert Day, fireman, of Montreal gave his evidence similar to that of the engineer, adding that he thought a train going at a rate of 30 miles an hour could be stopped within 500 feet. He did not consider crossing dangerous.

Fred Meyers, station agent said he was one of the first to reach the victims. He heard train whistle and bell ringing; he had tested the crossing bell and it was in good working order. There was no other train at the station which could have caused the bell to ring.
Questioned, Mr. J. P. Pratt, representing the G. T. R., stated that following a test with specially selected cars, a train going 60 miles an hour had been stopped in 1200 feet.
Mr. C. Casselman was on Gravel Road at time of accident. He testified that he had heard no whistle and no bell he thought the crossing was a regular "Man Trap."
Willis Schell, Williamsburg also thought the crossing was dangerous on account of buildings at approach. He thought the bell was of no use as it served to frighten many horses.

Mr. R. H. Ashton, whose residence is about 250 ft away from the track, testified that he was sitting on his verdndah as the train approached the crossing. He heard the train whistle for the crossing, and later heard the warning whistle which drew his attention and he immediately ran over to the crossing and saw the victims. He said the length of his stretch of buildings at the approach were as follows: 220 ft. 50 ft. and 60 ft. with a short distance between the first and second. From the south end of the building to the track is a distance of 37 feet. He thought the crossing was a very dangerous one on account of his buildings obstructing the view from an incoming train. Witness said the bell was out of water most of the time, and ringing a large portion of the time when no train was in sight.
Miss Lottie Weaver said she was in the last rig which crossed the track before the accident. She did not to know that train was approaching until after she reached the track, then she saw the incoming train somewhere about  "Tin Plate" factory. She heard crossing bell ring a few minutes before the accident.
Miss Barclay, Williamsburg, was in the same buggy as Miss Weaver and gave similar evidence.
Mrs. James Duval, whose residence is but a short distance from the G. T. R., heard train whistle and saw horse approach the crossing trotting. She saw horse to rear up on hind legs just as engine struck. She did not think Mr. Casselman saw the train approaching. She thought the bell might have caused horse to rear.

Mr. Geo.. Janack. Pte., with 156, Prescott, was at Morrisburg station at time of accident. Did you not hear whistle blow but heard the bell ring.
Mr. Levi Barnhart stood in field south of "Tin Plate about 89 rods from G. T. R. with unobstructed view. He heard train whistle for Nash crossing, and two sharp blasts sometime later.
Mr. James Rice, Williamsburg followed Mr. Casselman with horse and rig at a short distance, but he knew very little about accident. He thought the crossing was a very dangerous one.
Mr. Frank Hummel, section foreman, said he had instructions to test bell every morning and to place a "flagman" at crossing when bell was out of order. He had found the bell out of order shortly after the accident.
Mr. W. H. Fetterly, testified that he frequently crossed the G. T. R. at the Gravel Road crossing. He thought the crossing was anything but safe and he had had several pretty close calls. The witness thought it was a great mistake on the part of the authorities to leave the crossing unprotected. He thought it was impossible for a person driving south to notice an incoming train from the east for a distance of 580 feet at the approach until a horse had practically reached the track. He had also noticed at two different times left standing on track on each side of road at this point which helped complete the tunnel.
Mr. John Castleman testified the bell at crossing was out of order on 24th of May and again on first of June.

This completed the evidence and Crown attorney Dingwell and Coroner Locke then addressed the jury with regard to their duty.

The jury then retired and after one hour's deliberation brought in a verdict that the accident was caused through neglect on the part of the Grand Trunk to properly safeguard the very dangerous crossing at Morrisburg. And they further recommended that steps be taken by the proper authorities to have said crossing properly protected.

Morrisburg Leader 15 September 1916

Messrs. J.H. Meikle, Reeve of Morrisburg, and Malcolm Becksted Reeve of Williamsburg, attended the sitting of the Railway Commissioners held at Ottawa on Tuesday, to take up the matter of safe guarding the Railway crossing on the Gravel Road, where the two Casselman girls met their fate on May 24th last. At the time of going to press the delegates had not yet returned from their mission, therefore the results of the investigation will be published in our next issue.

Morrisburg Leader 22 September 1916

At the sitting of the Railway Commission held at Ottawa last week, the matter of safeguarding the Gravel Road Crossing was taken up and resulted in the issue of an order to the Railway Officials to have gates placed at the crossing within thirty days. What portion of the cost municipalities shall pay will be fixed by the Commission at some future date.

Board of Railway Commissioners order 25633 of 16 November 1916

Orders Gravel Road, Morrisburg, to be protected 
by gates by 15 May 1917, mile 92.6

Morrisburg Leader 8 December 1916

Gravel Road Crossing to be Protected by May 1917
In the matter of protection to be provided at the Gravel Road crossing the Board of Railway Commissioners, after considering the evidence taken at the sitting in Ottawa on September 12th, 1916, have issued an order that the crossing be protected by gates to be installed by the G.T.R., and the said gates to be operated day and night by a day and night watchman, and the work of installation to be completed by the 15th day of May, 1917. The question of the cost of operation has been reserved.
This move (at the cost of human life) will come as welcome news to the general public and particularly to a number of Morrisburg and Williamsburg citizens who have had thrilling escapes at this fatal trap.

Morrisburg Leader 18 May 1917

The G.T.R. crossing on the Gravel Road. Which for many years has been a menace to the travelling public, particularly between Williamsburg and Morrisburg, is now guarded by gates which have been erected by the G.T.R. and are operated by Messrs. Wm. Holmes and John McDonald. The gates are lowered as soon as an approaching train is in view and remain down until the train has crossed over the crossing, thereby eliminating all danger.

Board of Railway Commissioners Judgment of 5 June 1917

Apportionment of the cost of providing protection (gates) at the crossing of Gravel Road and GTR, Morrisburg. 
Construction - 20% from the Railway Grade Crossing Fund, 5% county, 5% township of Williamsburg, 5% village of Morrisburg, 65% GTR.
Maintenance - 10% from Morrisburg, 10% from Williamsburg,10% from County, 70% from GTR.

BRC Order 26193 of 6 June 1917. Cost apportionment for BRC order 25633. This verified the judgment of 5 June 1917
Morrisburg Leader 8 June 1917

Williamsburg Council
The reeve was authorized to attend the meeting of the Board of the Railway Commission at Ottawa on Tuesday, the 4th day of June re Railway Crossing at Morrisburg

R. Y. Commissioners Hear Local Delegates

A special meeting of the Board of Railway Commissioners was held at Ottawa on Tuesday, June 5th for the purpose of setting a just a aportionment of the cost of construction and maintenance of the gates lately erected at the Gravel Road crossing. After hearing the delegates the board ruled as follows:
Construction -
Railway Fund    20 p.c.
Williamsburg       5 p.c
County                5  p.c
Morrisburg          5  p.c
Railway             65 p.c.

Maintenance -
Morrisburg       10 p.c
Williamsburg    10  p.c
County             10  p.c
Railway            70  p.c
Those who represented the municipalities were: -
Morrisburg - Reeve Merkel and Mr. Arthur Flynn.
Williamsburg - Mr. W B. Lawson, Chesterville and Reeve Casselman.
Matilda - Mr. I. Hilliard, M. P. P.
The county- Mr Davy, Iroquois.

Morrisburg  Leader  24 May 1918

Damage actions adjudged in Cornwall last week
In Casselman vs. the G.T.R., the plaintiff was awarded $2,000 for injury to himself at a level crossing, but was not allowed anything for the killing of his two daughters in the same accident

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