Details of Railway Accidents in the Ottawa Area

1916, May 3 - Toronto to Montreal night fast express was derailed by a broken rail at Winchester, Canadian Pacific, Winchester sub.  No injuries.

Chesterville Record 4 May 1916

The night fast express from Toronto to Montreal in charge of Conductor Morley Munro, an old Chesterville boy, was wrecked yesterday morning about 6.30, a couple of hundred yards east of Winchester station, while passing through the yards.  Almost miraculously there was no one injured beyond a shaking up.  The train consisted of seven cars and the engine, the latter and the two following cars passed over the point where the five following sleepers left the rails and ploughed into the road bed between the eastbound and westbound tracks.  The trucks of all five cars were buried thoroughly in the gravel and sand while the bodies of the cars were tilted at various angles so as to block traffic on the westbound track.  The delay to traffic was very slight as the business siding parallelled the blocked tracks and trains passed over it.  The train is said to have been going at about forty miles an hour but passengers report the shock to have been unusually light.

The cause of the wreck is reported to have been a broken rail, and it is alleged what might have proved a similar wreck was averted only by the narrowest of margins in the Chesterville yards a very short time ago by the vigilence of an employee, who, through the generosity of the CPR has received what is known as ten merit marks, valuable as a souvenir no doubtbut hardlyrepresenting any amount of the loss saved to the company, and the hand that bestowed them doubtless, can as easily nullify them.

At Midnight

It was just five minutes to one when the accident occurred.  The west bound Soo train had left Montreal on time and was in charge of Conductor McIntosh with Engineer M.J. Doherty and Fireman M.J. Walsh.  It was customary for freight trains to be moving back and forth between the Chaudiere and Sussex street and the freight in question had arrived a short time before from Prescott and was to be taken down to Sussex street.

From the account of the accident published at the time, it appears that at the tower the freight hands had received orders to do some shunting up to midnight and then go on a siding and allow the express to pass,  They mistook the time or forgot the order from the towerman and remained on the main line until it was too late.

Sharp on time the Soo express rounded the curve near the locomotive sheds.  It was then that the engineers of both trains saw what was going to happen.  The exprss was travelling at a good rate of speed while the freight was barely moving.  The engineers and firemen of both trains, seeing the inevitable, jumped for their lives and escaped serious injury.

Terrible impact

An instant later with an awful impact which could be heard a mile away, the two trains came together.  Engine No. 303 on the Soo was of a large type and it simply ploughed through the smaller locomotive.  Though the brakes were applied they were unable to arrest the velocity of the swiftly moving coaches and in less time than it takes to tell it the express and baggage cars and part of a colonial sleeper were telescoped.

Thousands of people who went out the following morning witnessed a hideous sight. Locked together with the smaller one underneath and partly obscured were the two locomotives.  In the rear was an express car badly smashed and then the colonist car with its end stove in.  In the express section there was a conglomeration of smashed trunks, valises, parcels and mail bags all mixed together while the cars were piled up in splinters.

Kemptville Weekly Advance 11 May 1916

Broken Rail Throws Whole Train From Track - Marvellous Esape of Passengers.

Winchester, May 4 While travelling at fifty miles an hour the eastbound C.P.R. fast express struck a broken rail at Winchester station yesterday morning and the whole train except the engine and baggage car was derailed. It might have been one of the worst wrecks in the history of the C.P.R., but fortunately it was not attended by any very serious results, to either passengers or rolling stock. There were all conditions, however, for a great disaster - long train filled, four sleeping coaches, filled with people, running at high speed, struck broken rail, and that there was not a fearful toll of life seems miraculous. The reasons are said to be that the engine got safely over the defective rail and did not leave the track, and that when the coaches went off they went to the left onto the double track roadbed instead of to the right, into the ditch. Every coach left the rails but ploughed their way along the roadbed until the engine was stopped, and not one of them turned completely over. Eight hundred feet of the track was torn up, many of the big steel rails being twisted like hair-pins, and ties were cut to matchwood. The west bound track was also damaged for two or three hundred feet, but that was the most serious damage done. When the train was stopped all the coaches were tilted at a rakish angle, but they were not badly damaged and not a passenger hurt. Two or three slight scratches but that was all. The auxiliaries from Smiths Falls and Montreal were rushed to the place and today all traces of the wreck are pretty well cleared away.

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Updated 8 February 2022