Details of Railway Accidents in the Ottawa Area

1920, September 23 - Head on collision at Alfred

Ottawa Journal 23 September 1920

CP #1, the Trans Canada Limited with 300 passengers aboard hit a freight train head-on at Alfred at 1 am this morning.  2 baggage and express cars on the head end of the passenger train were demolished, and 7 box cars on the freight train were derailed, but no one was seriously injured.
The rescue train took the passengers back to Vaudreuil, then up the Grand Trunk to Ottawa.
The mishap was caused by the freight train running through the east switch before stopping to clear the passenger train.

Ottawa Journal 23 September 1920 evening edition

One hurt when Trans Canada flyer in wreck
Crashes into freight train on siding at Alfred after midnight
CPR main Montreal line blocked as result
Passengers on famous train shaken up and frightened in accident
A heavy fog is said to have been responsible for the failure of the engineer and fireman of the Trans Canada train to see the headlight on the freight train engine, which extended beyond the siiding to the mainline track and resulted in last night's wreck. It is also stated that the brakeman of the freight train had not time enough to lay torpedoes on the track, to warn the passenger train of the danger. It is stated by railway officials that a temporary track will be constructed at the scene of the accident immediately.
300 passengers on the Canadian Pacific Railway Trans-Canada Limited, No.1 train, miraculously escaped death or serious injuries, shortly after midnight this morning, when that train plowed head on into a freight train at Alfred,Ont., about 35 miles from Ottawa.
Only shaken up.
The baggage and express cars of the passenger train were smashed, but all persons escaped with nothing more than a severe shaking. The engineer of the freight train sustained severe injuries about the head, and also a shattered the arm. With this exception no one was injured. The Trans-Canada was coming towards Ottawa.
A statement on the accident could not be obtained at the CPR offices today, but officials immediately left the city for the scene of the smash up to conduct an investigation. The Montreal - Ottawa line is blocked by the wreck.
Freight train too long.
Reports from residents at Alfred are to the effect that the accident was responsible to the inability of the freight train to place all its cars on the siding about 3 miles from the railway station. The siding at that point is said to have been too short to hold the full train, with the result that several cars on the front of the freight train and the engine were left standing on the mainline track.
Seven box cars piled up.
No warning it is said was given to the Trans-Canada train, and it was traveling at a fairly high speed when the impact occurred. Passengers marveled that the more serious wreck did not result. Engines of both trains were severely damaged but on the passenger train the damage did not run farther than the second car. The smoker came next, but this coach escaped untouched. Seven box cars on the freight train were piled on top of one another along the track.
Due you here at 2 a.m.
The Trans-Canada train was due in Ottawa shortly before 2 a.m. standard time.
When the impact occurred, the passengers in the sleepers for jolted in their berths. Slight panics prevailed in some of the ten sleepers and tourist coaches, and within a few minutes after the collision all the passengers were alongside of the wrecked train in scanty attire. Their anxiety was relieved when the train crews informed them that no one was injured. Around by Smiths Falls.
The passengers arrived in Ottawa shortly after fiv o'clock this morning on a special train which was ordered out from Montreal. It was necessary for the train to detour back to Vaudreuil, using the Grand Trunk tracks for a part of the way. The passengers were finally despatched to Smiths Falls, where they resumed the journey to Ottawa.
Mr. James H Hughes, assistant superintendent of the road, and other officials left for the scene of the wreck early this morning to conduct an investigation.
Main Line blocked.
As a result of the smash up the main line was blocked to traffic today. The CPR Montreal train, due in the city at 11:30 o'clock this morning did not reach the city until 12:35 p.m. This train was dispatched from Montreal to Bedell and then over the Toronto Montreal line to Kemptville. CPR Montreal train 501, due at 10:55 a.m. had not arrived in the city at 2 this afternoon.
It was announced at the CPR offices that the Ottawa Montreal line would be closed to all traffic until the line is cleared of the wrecked trains.
Tells of accident.
The Trans-Canada flyer crashed into a freight train which had overrun the siding at Alfred said Mr F Nash Billsoley of Norfolk, and Commissioner of Fisheries of that state, who arrived at the Chateau this morning after his experience. Mr. Billsoley, said the accident happened about midnight. Immediately after the crash, Mr. Billsoley said, there was considerable confusion for a few moments but with the discovery that no one was hurt, the passengers patiently waited for the train to take them to their destination.
The freight train, which caused the wreck, had evidently pulled in on the siding to allow the flyer to pass and unfortunately over ran into the mainline. The flyer, pounding along on her way to Ottawa, smashed head on into the freight engine. Seven freight cars were hurled from the rails while the engine and the first two cars of the flyer were badly smashed. Mr. Billsoley attributes the escapeof the passengers to the fact that the first car in rear of the flyer engine was an express car and the next a mail van. These two cars acted as a cushion, he said, and took up most of the shock. Several other passengers were thrown from their seats and were slightly shaken up, but no one was seriously hurt.
Mr. Bill Sully is here to attend the Fisheries convention in the Victoria Museum and is none the worse for his trying night.

Eastern Ontario Review Septenber 24, 1920

Fog is blamed for bad crash at Alfred spur
Freight engineer receives severe injuries when passenger engine hits his train.
The head on collision between CPR Trans Canada passenger train No. 1, westbound and No. 86 freight train, at Alfred, early yesterday morning, has been fairly well established, as having been due, primarily, to dense fog. Mr. James H. Hughes, assistant superintendent of District 4, who was at Vaudreuil at the time of the accident, proceeded at once to the scene to investigate. He remained in Alfred all day yesterday.
Too long for siding.
From the stories related by members of the train crew and passengers, it develops that number 86, which had pulled into the siding at Alfred to allow the Trans-Canada to pass, was too long for the siding. After clearing the rear of his train from the main track, the engineer of the freight found that his engine and one or two cars still remained on the mainline. Realizing that arrival of the fast train on its way west was important, conductor Sproule, of the freight, send out a flag man with a lantern and flares.
Fog blinded engineer.
The flagman had only preceded a short distance along the track when the headlight of the onrushing passenger train showed dimly through the dense fog. He waved his lantern frantically, but the fog prevented it from being seen, and a second later, the head on crash of the two locomotives occurred. The collision completely wrecked two baggage cars immediately in rear of the engine on the passenger train, and the express car was thrown on its side in a deep ditch, filled with water and mud to a considerable depth. The rest of the coaches remained on the rails, the occupants suffering no injuries beyond a severe shaking up.
Much equipment wrecked.
The two engines were locked by the impact, and thrown to one side of the track. Seven box cars of the freight train were demolished. The engineer of the freight train is said to have received severe injuries about the head, and a shattered arm.
Stuck to throttle.
The express car rolled into the ditch just a few feet in front of him. The engineer of the passenger train, Mr. J Chisholm, 603 Wellington Street, Ottawa, stuck to his throttle, and came through the ordeal with only a severe shaking up. Last night he was suffering little or no after effects.
Through traffic resumed.
Through traffic on the Ottawa Montreal line was established shortly after 2 p.m. yesterday after a tie-up of some 12 hours. The track at the point where the wreck occurred was badly torn up, and temporary repairs were affected. The wreckage from the two trains lies on either side of the tracks

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Updated 21 July 1920