Details of Railway Accidents in the Ottawa Area

1922, January 21 - Derailment at Ellwood, Canadian Pacific Prescott subdivision

CPR 2608 was the locomotive involved in this wreck, here shot at Fredericton NB in 1951 believed to have been taken by Ken MacDonald (Bruce Chapman and Bill Linley)

Ottawa Citizen Monday 23 January 1922

Serious Accident to Prescott and Ottawa Train, When Engine, Mail and Two Passenger Cars Left Rails and Overturned.
Number of Ottawans Injured in Bad Smash Citizen Man's Graphic Story.
A disastrous wreck in which the engineer was killed, the fireman, and at least 20 passengers injured, severa! of them severly. occurred Saturday afternoon about 4.45 on the C.P.R. Ottawa-Prcscott line about a mile south of Elwood [sic] station and seven miles from Central station. Ottawa. The casualties are:
Holland Edward White, engineer. of l'rescott.
Firemun George Elliott. Prescott, cut face and head, and injured back.
Other details omiitted
Engine, Cars Overturned
The accident was one of the most extraordinary of its kind and it is a marvel that the casualties were not much more serious. The engine. No. 2608, mail car No. 3420. and baggage car No. 3891. which formed the front part of the train, ran down a short steep bank on the right side of the track approaching Ellwood station, one passenger coach which came next remaining on the track while the remaining other two passenger coaches which brought up the rear of the train ran down a similar bank on the opposite side of the track and both coaches overturned on their left side.
The engine turned turtle eompletely and settled flat on its back in a ditch at the foot of the embankment with the wheels vertical in the air, the mail car twisted and turned on its right  side and the baggage car remained half twisted and suspended between the mail car and the passenger coach still on the track. The wreck had therefore the appearance of a huge snake stretched clean across the track. The cause of the wreck is thought to have been spread rail.
Death of Engineer.
Holland Edward White, the engine driver, was found dead underneath the engine and huddled in a corner  of the cabin. It is thought his death was caused by "a shot of steam" as he was badly scalded. As no sound was heard from him by any of the survivors of the wreck his death was doubtless instantaneous.
A relief train was sent out from Ottawa by the C.P.R. on which the passengers and injured were brought to the city, and arrived at 7.15 p.m. 
Twelve Taken to Hospitals.
Ten of the injured persons were immediately conveyed in ambulances to St. Luke's hospital, and the two  Roman Catholic sisters were taken to Ottawa General Hospital, Water street.
Five of the Injured persons were able to leave St. Luke's hospital on Sunday morning, those still remaining being George Elliott, Clare Purdy, Arthur Naud. R. P. King, and William Campbell.
Asked what he thought happened. Fireman Elliott said that he heard Engineer White remark when the train began to jolt. "Hullo, what's wrong with her now?"
"I looked out my side of the cabin." said the fireman, "and shouted, 'She's on the ties.' The engine began to rock and when I saw which side she was going over I jumped into the snow bank."
Citizen Man's Story.
A Citizen representative, Mr. Sydney T. Checkland, who was returning from Prescott and was seated in the second passenger coach, described his experiences thus:
"I was seated on the left side of the coach coming towards Ottawa and was towards the front. I noticed a peculiar crunching and a jolting which became suddenly worse. There were sudden exclamations from the passengers and I was immediately aware something serious was happening. There followed a sound as of tremendous ripping, as though someone was tearing huge sheets of linen. Quicker than it can be told, the coach I was in violently lurched from side to side and when I finally realized which side the coach was going to topple I grabbed for the opposite rack and hung on. Fortunately no one was sitting immediately to my right so no one fell against me as happened in the case of several of the passengers and prevented them saving themselves.  When the coach ultimately settled on its side I called to the passengers to remain still until we could see exactly what had happened and over what we were hanging. All I could see through tbe window at my left was snow and a widening cavity and of course one could not tell over what we were hanging. The door of the coach was horizontal and scalding hot water was pouring across the opening so that we had to wait two or three minutes for that to stop.
Work of Rescue Began.
"Passengers from the preceding coach came and opened the door for us and I finally climbed through to see what could be done. I was afraid a sudden movement of the passengers who were walking practically on the inside of the roof of the coach might cause it to make another roll with even more disastrous results. However, it was found the coach was finally settled and the work of extricating other passengers was started right away.
I must say the women were magnificent. There were quite a number on board the, train and some of them got badly shaken, even though they did not profess to be injured. Bevond a first slight whimpering as a result of the violent shock there was absolutely no hysteria and no panic whatever. Two elderly ladies just behind me had heavy falls but made light of them and as I climbed out through the doorway I saw one of them sitting calmly and devoutly crossing herself. We lifted these two through the doorway while other male passengers helped ladies out through the windows after kicking out the glass. Mrs. E. R. Helmer who is the widow of the late Brigadier General Helmer, so well known in Ottawa, had to be dragged through one of the windows, as also Mrs. L.A. Lane.
Under the Engine.
"After release of the passengers from our car I had time to look around generally and try to size up what had happened. Passing to the front of the train I saw the plight of the engine and mail and baggage cars and for the first time realized  something of the marvel of our escape. I was told the engineer was underneath the engine so nothing could be done for that poor fellow, as there was no sound from him.
"There were anxious enquiries for the conductor, John Young of Prescott, as he had last been noticed between the two coaches. Fortunately this was not so and when I spoke to him as to what happened to him he said he had iust passed from the last car to ours when he felt a bump. Realizing this was unusual and that it portended danger he pulled the air-whistlc to warn the driver, thinking perhaps that one coach had jumped the track. Next he saw the couch overturning. The brakeman of the train was J. Reardon of Prescott, and both these train officials fortunately came through unscathed.
End Coach Worst Sufferer.
"Passine to the rear part of the train I found that the end coach had suffered far worse than ours. The rear truck of our coach had apparently run down the left bank while the front truck stayed on the track. That was what caused our coach to roll over seemingly, and the running off of our rear truck pulled the last coach with it and dropped it wholesale on its left side on the bank. How much farther it would have rolled but for an elm tree it is only possible to surmise.
"I found that in addition to 30 or 40 yards or so of rails that had buckled, two lengths of the rails had been torn wholesale from their ties, so there was nothing to stop the rear car running off the track. Of course the passengers in the last car suffered the most severely. They must have had a terrible time. The two Roman Catholic sisters were in that coach and the Mother Superior was in a terrible state, her head bleeding profusely, the other sister being in a state of collapse.
Mr. King Badly Hurt.
"Mr. R. P. King was also in that coach. He is well known in Ottawa as chief of the Journal staff in the House of Commons, and the father-in-law of Captain J.L. Melville, M.C., formerly principal of the vocational school for disabled soldiers and now unit director of administration in the Department of Soldiers' Civil Re-Establishment. Mr. King refused to be moved until the arrival of a doctor.
The first to appear on the scene was Dr. C. J. McPherson, of Ossington avenue, who was there within half an hour of the accident in response to a phone call. Mr. King was found ultimately to be suffering from two fractured ribs, though he himself thought at the time, his shoulder was broken also.
Hockey Player's Gamcness.
"Two others of the worst injured passengers who happened to be in that coach were Clare Purdy and Arthur Naud, both members of the Smiths Falls hockey team, which was journeying to Ottawa to play the Victoria team. Naud was knocked unconscious immediately, and ultimately came to in a nearby farmhouse to which he was carried. He afterwards journeyed to Ottawa with us on the relief train and was taken direct to hospital. Purdy, I must say, acted splendidly. Although deathly pale, suffering from loss of considerable blood from his head wound and suffering pain from the injury to his groin, in addition to having suffered a most terrible shock, he persisted in repeating to his team mates that they were not to bother about him but go and help others who were worse than he was. he said. He continually waved them away, but, of course, some of them stayed right with him all the time. The Smiths Falls team was being conducted to Ottawa by W. McCue, town solicitor of Smiths Falls, who was unhurt, as he was fortunately travelling at the time, in the only coach which stayed on the track. Another passenger in the last coach who had a bad time and was badly knocked about was William Campbell, an elderly man. living on Renfrew avenue. Ottawa.
Mrs. Goodwin's Fine Work.
"Too much praise can scarcely be given to Mrs. George Goodwin, of Billings Bridge, whose home is about 500 to 800 yards across the fields from the scene of the accident. I learned that Mrs. Goodwin, hearing cries for help from someone walking along the track, ran for her medicine chest, gathered her bandages and liniments and rushed to the scene. She, assisted by a young medical student from Toronto, whose name I did not learn, rendered excellent First Aid, particularly to the Mother Superior, who appeared to be in the worst plight among the women.
Mother Superior's Calmness.
"The latter was wonderfully calm and serene, and repeated her thanks to those so readily assisting her.
"I saw her finally as she was being carried away on a stretcher to the relief train, and again she was persistent in repeating her thanks to the men who were acting as stretcher-bearers for the gentle manner in which they were handling her. There was no sign of complaint and the calm serenity of her sweet smile is one of the sights that will long live in my memory. The sister accompanying her uttered no complaint either, but only remarked that others were worse off than she as she lay propped on an improvised stretcher. To Mrs. Goodwin's forethought and promptitude, it is probably due that the Mother Superior, who was the most hurt of the two sisters, owes the fact that her life was not even more endangered than it was. The Mother Superior, I learned, was on her way to Ottawa to attend the funeral rites in connection with the burial of Archbishop Gauthier. Sister Mary Charles, I am informed, is a niece of the late Archbishop, and was also coming to Ottawa for the funreal.
Relief In the Darkness.
"The smash occurred about 4.45, as near as I could judge, but it was not until 6.15 that the relief train came to our assistance. By that time darkness had settled over the scene. There was no moon, only the light of the stars and the faint glimmer reflected from the city lights. In the distance.
"When the relief train came, the headlight from the engine was the only one by which the rescuers had to work, except for one or two small oil lanterns carried by one or two men. It was a weird sight and a sad one to watch the injured being very slowly carried along the snow white track to the rear of the relief train. It wase also a difficult task for the rescuers.
At Former Chudiere Junction.
"The spot where the accident happened is near MacLaren's farm, a short distance from Wood's crossing, and between that point and Elwood [sic]station, formerly known as Chaudiere Junction. The track is a single one, laid on the top of the embankment for a considerable stretch, and the latter falls away on both sides to a depth of about 15 feet. There was not even a foot of space to walk along the track at the side, of the relief train, and, as the slopes were steep and they were knee deep in snow, the task of carrying stretchers was an extremely difficult and delicate one. I was very much afraid that some of the injured passengers who were being carried on the stretchers might be rolled down the banks, owing to the difficulty of the stretcher bearers in keeping a foothold. The doctors on the relief train were J.F. Kidd. Herb B. Moffatt,  W. E. Cavan and T.A.R. Smith, all of St. Luke's hospilal staff, and they were accompanied by Nurse M.E. Craig.
"The baggage van being at the rear of the relief train, it was a considerable distance farther than it need have been to carry the injured had that train been made up the reverse way. There were no lights in the passenger coach on the relief train beyond a single oil lamp, and it was in such darkness that we travelled the remainder of the journey to Ottawa. I was quite expecting to hear some of the ladies go hysterical after the experience they had already suftered, but they still maintained wonderful calmness."
Fire Started Near Engine.
Shortly before dark it was feared the accident was going to prove even more gruesome than it was. A fire started up near the engine cabin, and the passengers near were horrified lest this meant that the body of the poor engineer was going to be burned, as a strong smell emanated.
There were calls for those nearest to throw snow on. but some of the men satisfied themselves that no further harm could come to the unfortunate engineer, his body was taken last evening to Brady & Harris's undertaking parlors, where Coroner Craig held a preliminary enquiry, and adjourned the inquest until January 31, at the police station.
The Late Engineer
Holland Edward White, the dead engineer, was popularly known as "Holly' and much liked for his geniality. He has lived in Prescott for the past two years and taken much interest in municipal affairs there.
At the January elections he headed the poll as a newly elected member of the Prescott town council, and in his first municipal contest. His home is on Center street. Prescott, and in addition to a sorrowing widow he leaves a family of seven small children. He was about 48 years of age.
Woman M.P. Had Left Train
Apart from the tragic happenings there were many who doubtless considered themselves fortunate. Among the travelers on the train from Prescott were Miss Agnes McPhail, Canada's first woman M.P., so far as the federal house is concerned, who was accompanied by Mrs. R.J. Vair of Kingston, organizer of the United Farm Women of Ontario, and Mr. J.W. Kennedy. M.P. for Stormont-Glengarry. They left the train at Kemptville, however, where a meeting of the local Progressives was to be held on Saturday night and they were to speak.
Mr. Checkland had conversed with them until they left the train when, fortunately for himself as he considers, he moved to the front of the coach and so as he believes escaped serious injury. Had he remained in the center of the coach where he had been in conversation with Miss McPhail and her party he would undoubtedly have shared the severer experiences of those who were in that part of the coach which had such a heavy lurch.
Perhaps the only element of comedy in the whole grim occurrence happened to one man who regretted that his watch had been jolted out of his pocket and lost. Coming in on the relief train he was heard to say that luckily for him a friend had discovered it lying in the snow, a somewhat remarkable thing, seeing that the snow was so deep and the upheaval had been so tremendous.
Hockey Match Called Off.
The hockey match between Smiths Fails and Victorias which was to have been played Saturday night had to be called off on account of the serious injuries to Clare Purdy and Arthur Naud of the Smiths Falls team.
The Perth players who traveled on the same train came through unscathed however, and apparently undaunted and unaffected, as despite their somewhat terrifying experience they managed to win their game against Munitions.
Miss Elizabeth McCurrie, of Oxford Station. was on her way to Ottawa to visit her brother. Mr. James McCurrie, 134 Breeze Hill avenue, with whom she is now staying. Although badly knocked about Miss McCurrie managed to reach her destination. Yesterday some reaction set in and Miss McCurrie was obliged to remain in bed. where she was ordered by Dr. Kidd to stay for a week or so.
Brady and Harris's, Woodburn's and Roger's ambulances were at Central station and met the special train that brought the injured to the city, and conveyed them to the hospitals.
Mr. Henry B. Spencer. general superintendent of the C.P.R. in the Ottawa division, after the accident issued an official list of those killed and injured and the nature of the injuries, as follows:
Killed Engine Driver H. E. White. Prescott.
Injured Miss Elizabeth McCurrie. Oxford, left hand; Peter Charlebois. Smiths Falls, right foot, by broken glass; Sister Mary Charles, House of Providence. Kingston. right hip and arm: Clare Purdy, 106 Elmsley street, Smiths Falls, scalp wound; Sister Clement, House of Providence. Kingston, several deep scalp wounds; R. P. King. 643 Gilmour street. Ottawa, chest end shoulders; William Campbell. Renfrew, scalp; R. Motherwell, Perth, bruised head, and cut over right eye; J. Flett, Perth, right hip; A.P. Pitts. 4 Elm street. Ottawa, concussion of abdomen; A. Naud, Smiths Falls, head injuries; Mrs. Robt. Greer, Smiths Falls, scalp wounds; Miss Verna Greer. Smiths Falls, glass injuries to left hand.
Mr. Spencer stated that within half an hour of the wreck six doctors, nurses, etc., with necessary medicine, were ready to leave for the scene of the wreck by special train. The train went out, the injured were attended to and brought to the various hospitals in Ottawa.
Asked as to the cause of the accident. Mr. Spencer stated that only an investigation could determine the cause. In answer to questions he stated that the damage to rolling stock, etc.. was about $10,000, including $2,000 to the engine, which was not one of the newest types.
There were. Mr. Spencer states, between 75 and 80 people on the train, being approximately two and a half coach loads. The others of the crew in addition to the dead engineer were Fireman George Elliott, Prescott; Conductor J. Young, Prescott, and Brakeman J. Reardon, Prescott.
The morning trains on Sunday over the line were sent out via Carleton Place and Smiths Falls but last night the line was cleared for traffic as usual.

Ottawa Journal Monday 23 January 1922
Kemptville Weekly Advance used the Journal

Local on Way from Prescott to Ottawa Derailed With Fatal Results
One man, Engineer Holland Edward White, of Prescott, was killed and 21 persons were injured, many only slightly, when the C.P.R. Prescott to Ottawa  local was derailed near Ellwood, five miles south of Ottawa, at 4.35 Saturday afternoon. The engine, tender, baggage and mail cars and two passenger coaches plunged down a 15 foot embankment and Engineer White died with his hand on the throttle. Six people were among the injured. A defective rail caused the wreck.
The following are among the casualties
Details omitted
Broken rail the cause
A broken rail caused the wreck of the train according to an official statement issued by Divisional Superintendent H.B. Spencer of the local office C.P.R last night. The statement was issued  after a thorough investigation of the scene of the accident. Mr. A. Price, General Manager of Eastern Lines, who along with some assistants left Montreal on the first train after receipt of the news of the accident and arrived in Ottawa at 11.15 Saturday night. They left at once on a special car and made a thorough examination into the wreck.
Official statement
The statement follows:
"At 4.35 p.m. Saturday, January 21, C.P.R. train Number 553 Prescott to Ottawa, was derailed about five miles south of Ottawa. The train consisted of engine, mail and express baggage car and three coaches. The train was in charge of Engineer H. White and Conductor John Young. The engine turned over and Engineer White was killed. Fireman George Ellioy and Dominion Express employee Arthur Naud were slightly injured. There were also six passengers who were taken to the St. Lukes and Water Street hospitals. They were all reported on Sunday as doing well their injuries not being of a serious nature. Several other passengers were injured but did not require hospital treatment. Relief train with doctors and nurses was immediately despatched from Ottawa and passengers were soon brought in. Mr. A. Price, General Manager of Eastern Lines, immediately proceeded to the scene of the accident from Montreal and thorough investigation shows that a broken rail was the cause of the accident."
Mr. Price Discusses Causes
Mr. Alfred Price, General Manager, Canadian Pacific Railway, eastern lines, Montreal accompanied by Mr. J.E. Armstrong, assistant chief engineer and Mr. A.N. MacKenzie, maintenance of way engineer, arrived in Ottawa from Montreal at 11.15 Saturday night and at once proceeded to the scene of the wreck. After investigation Mr. Price gave out the following statement to The Journal.
"The cause of the wreck could not be ascertained until daylight when we found that a hidden defect in one rail had caused it to break under pressure. The engine was the first to leave the rails and travelled some distance on the hard smooth roadbed before it toppled over into the ditch.
"The train could not have been travelling at a high rate of speed as it was too close to a switch and to Ellwood station. It was going at about 25 miles per hour. The equipment is not badly damaged. All of the working parts of the engine are in order which removed any possibility of the accident having been caused from this quarter. There was no evidence of a spread of rails having caused the accident.
"We will attribute the wreck to one of those unaccountable defects for which we can blame nobody and which we are unable to explain in an altogether satisfactory manner. Cold weather often has a bad effect on steel and causes it to become very brittle."
The Heroic Engineer
"Jump for your life," cried Engineer White to Fireman Elliott as he felt his engine wheels leave the track about a quarter of a mile south of Ellwood (formerly Chaudiere) Junction. Elliiott leaped from his cab and fell bruised in the ditch on the left hand side of the embankment. White applied the brakes. The engine bumped along the ties pulling the rest of the train consisting of the mail and baggage cars and a second and two first class cars as they swayed along the ties for 500 feet. Then the engine and tender veered to the right, plunged down the steep 15 foot embankment. With a hiss of escaping steam it turned a somersault and imprisoned the faithful engineer in his cab. He was instantly killed.
The baggage car followed the engine and fell on the side while the mail coach shoved its nose in the ditch but stood up.  The two rear first class coaches in the meanwhile lurched over on the left hand side of the embankment and toppled on their sides. The second class coach and smoker which came immediately behind the mail coach did not leave the roadbed.
Although there were 175 passengers on board, it is marvellous that only 21 were injured and most of these but slightly.
That the second class coach didn't follow other coaches in their headlong fall into the ditch is due to the quick action of brakeman John Riordan.
Brakeman saves one car
He was in the vestibule of the second class coach when he felt the wheels on the ties. He immediately applied the brakes. This quick action, no doubt, saved many lives, as there were 80 passengers in this coach.
The accident occurred with such suddenness that few passengers realized their great danger. The train was going between 25 and 30 miles an hour.  The passengers were a jolly crowd, many coming here on a visit and others homeward bound. The tall spires of the city churches and towers of Parliament Buildings shining in the late afternoon sun were a welcome sight to the passengers on that high ground as they prepared to put on their wraps and get their grips ready when the wreck occurred.
On the train were Sister Mary Clement, Mother General of the House of Providence, Kingston and Sister Mary Charles, also of Kingston, coming to Ottawa to attend the funeral on Tuesday of Archbishop Gauthier.
The news spread quickly throughout the city, and when the special relief train brought in the injured and other passengers at 7 o'clock there was an enormous crowd of anxious watchers and friends at Union Station.
Holland Edward White, the brave engineer who lost his life with his hand on the throttle, was 47 years old.  He leaves a wife and seven children, the oldest of whom is 18 and the youngets four, at his home in Prescott, where he had gone from here a year and a half ago. He was affectionately known as "Holly" among his fellow workers. He was a member of  the I.O.O.F. and the B. of L.E. His father-in-law is Mr. Alex Roger, a retired engineer of Westboro.
Came Suddenly
The derailment came with such suddenness that no one had a clear recollection of what had happened. The train was travelling about 30 miles an hour about half a mile south of Ellwood station. A horrifying scraping and grinding of metal parts was the first warning the passengers had. Then came a nerve-racking bumping, followed immediately by the coaches being toppled into the ditches on either side of the track. For several minutes there was a confusing tangle of passengers. Those sitting on the right side of the coaches were hurled to the opposite side and on the came a shower of hand baggage, parcels, seat cushions and debris of the coaches. For a brief period following the derailment there was a stillness that was most depressing to those who had fortunately been in the smoking car which did not leave the sleepers. Suddenly the air was pierced by a woman's cry, which was followed, in rapid succession by many others.
The rescue work was soon commenced and the train crew was augmented by many men, including members of the Perth hockey team. The women and children were exrticaed first and then the male passengers were taken out. Brakeman Riordan ran to Ellwood, where he reported the accident and was advised that a rescue train would be made up and sent to the scene with the utmost despatch. Within an hour all the passengers had received medical assistance and had been placed in the relief train.
The scene at the wreck was terrible. Nearly 500 feet of track had been torn up and the marks of the wheels on the snow covered ties were quite plain. At first it had been thought that a spread of rail was the cause of the disaster. Close examination brought out the fact that the wreck was due to a defective rail.
Suerintendent Spencer, who was early on the scene, made an investigation soon after arrival. Owing to darkness no positive conclusion could be reached, but the officials at that time were more concerned over comfort of the passengers.
30 Miles an Hour
As far as could be ascertained, the local was travelling at from 25 to 30 miles an hour, and as the train was on time, there was no need for exceeding the normal rate of speed. The part of the rail that was defective could be seen Saturday night. The pressure of weight from the heavy engine apparently caused it to "buckle"and derail the engine and five cars. The train dashed along the ties for about 300 feet until it stopped, when the engine left the tracks and  and stopped at the bottom of the embankment turned upside down. The baggage car, immediately behind the tender, followed into the ditch, landing on one side. The front end of the mail car became foul of rthe rear of the baggage car, but did not fall on oe side. The smoker remained on the ties, and the occupants,although somewhat shaken up, rushed out of the coach.
The two first class coaches at the rear lurched to the opposite side of the track and toppled down the 15-foot embankment coming to a stop in the ditch. The smoking car was on a high culvert and, if it had been precipitated to either side there would have been a perpendicular drop of at least 15 feet to a small creek. There would probably have been a heavy casualty list as this coach had about 80 passengers in it.
The scene at night when the wrecking crew was busy clearing the line was memorable. The damaged area was brightly lighted by white, red and greenish colored flares. On the left, as one faced Ottawa, two heavy coaches were resting on one side. The windows had been smashed in and the doors wrenched from their hinges. On the right the mail and baggage cars were aso in the ditch, and immediately  ahead was the overturned engine and tender.The ony part of the locomotive visible from the tracks were the wheels, while the cab, smokestack and other parts on the top of the engine were buried in the ditch. As soon as possible trainmen attacked the buried cab and tenderly took out the body of their fellow-workman, Engineer White, who had died while faithfully performing his duties.
Died a Hero
Engineer White died a hero. When the defective rail broke under the weight of the engine, Mr. White sensed the danger and immediately endeavoured to stop the train and save the lives of the passengers. At the same time he shouted to his companion, Fireman George Elliott, of Prescott, "Jump for your life". Elliott followed his superior's instructions and saved his life. The engineer remainedin the cab and when the heavy lovomotive somersaulted down the incline, he was imprisoned at his post. The escaping live coal and steam instantly killed the heroic engineer.
While all the members of the crew did everything humanly possible to avert the disaster, the efforts of brakeman John Riordon, of Prescott were an outstanding value. He happened to be in the vestibule of the second class smoking coach when he felt the shock of the derailment. Riordon jammed on the emergency brakes and rapid action caused the secomd class coach to stay upright.
The train is officiallyu known as No. 553 and makes a round trip from Prescott to Ottawa daily. At Bedell, many passengers from Montreal and Toronto trains. Who were on route to Ottawa, were taken on.
Hockey Teams Aboard
The Smiths Falls and Perth hockey teams, which were scheduled to play Victorias and Munitions, respectively in the Rideau group at the Rideau rink Saturday night, were on the train. The Perth hockeyists went into the smoker, but the Smiths Falls team would not join their rivals and entered a first class coach. The medicine town youths, although shaken up, were able to fill their engagement at the rink, but the Smiths Falls team was crippled through injuried received by Charlebois and naud, their regular defence players. The latter is an employee of the Dominion Express Company.
The wrecking crews from Ottawa and Smiths Falls worked from both ends of the wreck. The track was repaired and two coaches had been raised at 8 o'clock Sunday morning. The heavy sniowstorm was a serious handicpa, and Superintendent Spencer decided to halt operations until thi smorning.  The baggage cars and engine will be raised to the tracks sometime today, but ordinary traffic was given the right of way.
Relief Train
Within the remarkably short period of 32 minutes after word was received in Ottawa of the wreck, Mr. H.B. Spencer, divisional superintendent of the C.P.R in Ottawa, was on the scene with relief and hospital train and a staff of doctors and nurses. Owing to the somewhat isolated location of the wreck it was not until 5.07 that Mr. Spencer, who was at his house, was notified.
Realizing at once the necessity of quick action Mr. Spencer phoned Broad street yard officials to have his private car and a relief train ready within 15 minutes and then took a taxi to the station. Doctors J.F. Kidd, H.B. Moffat, W.E. Cavan and D.T. Smith were communicated with and tod to come at once to the C.P.R. Broad street yard and bring a nurse.
Mr. Spencer was ready to pull out at 5.30 but was forced to wait five mimnutes for the medical men to arrive. The relief train in charge of Conductor J. Crawford and Engineer H. Matthews, pulled out at 5.35 on its errand of mercy and, travelling at 45 miles an hour, the whole party reached the scene of the wreck at 5.45, exactly 32 minutes after the news reached Mr. Spencer.
The doctors and nurse at once commenced work among the injured and for almost an hour they were busy applying bandages and helping the wounded. Those who were injured had been gathered in the second class coach which remained upright. Stretchers and large quantities of medical supplies and warm blankets formed part of the equipment of Mr. Spencer's private car and everything possible was done to ease the suffering of the other passengers.
After everything possible had been done for the wounded they were transferred on stretchers to the relief train and with the uninjured passengers were brought into Union Station where nurses and ambulances were ready. The relief train arrived in Ottawa just two hours after the schedule time for the Prescott train. It was composed of three coaches and a baggage car.
Working All Night
Mr. Spencer';s private car remained on a siding all night and was the temporary headquarters for all work. A wire was at once strung and within an hour of his arrival Mr. Spencer was in communicatin with President Beatty of the Montreal, and gave him a private report on the wreck. Instructions were then given for a wrecking train to proceed from Smiths Falls so that all night long huge wrecking trains were at work north and south of the wreck removing debris and clearing the right-of-way. Two cars were rerailed.
An auxiliary train from Ottawa also left about six o'clock, in charge of Conductor J. Kelley and Engineer Geo. Dupuis.
"Our first care was for the injured and not until we had taken care of them did we commence the work of salvaging the property and clearing the track," said an official of the C.P.R.
There as very little confusion as the result ot the wreck, and only two trains were delayed behind schedule time in their arrivals and departures from Ottawa. One was the incoming train from Toronto, due at 9.30 and which was 25 minutes late, and the other was the Prescott local which leaves Ottawa at 5.25 but which was detained to 8.00 o'clock
News of the wreck reached St. Luke's Hospital at 5.35, and steps were immediately taken to accommodate the cases. Mr. Fred taylor, the superintendent, kept the whole day staff to handle the sufferers, not knowing whether there would ne a few or a hundred. Although the hospital was already full of patients, the authorities were ready to put a number of cots in the hallways for the slightly injured cases, and if necessary, to move out minor cases of illness. Drs. J.F. Kidd, H.B. Moffatt and W.E. Craven. Who had gone to the scene of the accident accompanied the first patients to the hospital.
At 7.30 the first accident cases began arriving in Wodburn'sand Burney's ambulances. For a while the scene reminded the overseas nburses in the hospital of war hospital days when strings of ambulances delivered their freight of human wreckage after a big "drive". Everyone at the hospital was readyu for the cases, and the seriously injured were pkaced in beds. The minor cases were taken straight to the X-ray room, where plates were made of their injuries, and then they were allowed to go to their respective destinations after first aid had been administered. By 10.30 the injuries of every person who had been brought to the hospital had been examined. The X-ray room staff worked nearly all night developing plates.
As news of the accident spread through the city, hundreds of enquies were received at the hospital. Relatives and friends of the injured were given free access to the hospital and every assistance was given them to converse with the injured patients. The efficient manner in which the hospital authorities handled the cases drew many favorable comments both from patients and their friends,
J.M. Flett, of Perth, secretary of the Rideau Hockey league, received slight injuries to his right hip, and after treatment at St. Luke's Hospital was able to attend the game between Perth amd Munitions. To a Journal reporter he said that the accident was so sudden that noone knew where he was for a moment. He was seated in one of the rear coaches talking to two of his fellow hockey fans when the accident happened. First there were a few bumps, apparently caused by the coach riding the ties, then the coach lurched to the left and fell on its side. He was thrown violently against the forward seat and about six other passengers fell on top of him.
Everything quiet
One of the facts that impressed him most forcibly was the deathl-like stillness which followed. Everything was so quiet you could almost hear a pin drop in the coach, he said. The sound of escaping steam from the engine could be plainly heard. The tension was relieved when a woman cried out. Then cries, groans and shouts filled the air. The hockey players and fans who were in the second-class coach and smoker, which remained on the embankment, and who were not injured went to the rescue of their less fortunate brother passengers.  With great presence of mind, they turned off the gas in the wrecked coaches, thereby preventing a source of fire which would have trapped the injured before they could be rescued. Then. by climbing down the the sides of the coaches, which were lying on their sides, they started the rescue work. Mr. Flett said that they carried every woman out first, whether injured or not. Some ot the men in the wrecked coaches broke the tower windows and made their way out by crawling under the wreckage in the ditch.
Many ot the slightly injured received cuts to their feet by walking on the windows in attempting to save the passengers, Mr. Flett explained. He was so busy helping in the rescue work himself that it was not until he was on the rescue train coming to Ottawa, that he realized that he himself waa injured.
Brakman's Prompt Work.
Constable Albert Edwin Phipps, ot the R.C.M.P., living at 4 Elm street, was returning from a business trip and was to have gone on duty at 11.30 Saturday night. His first warning of the accident was when he saw Brakeman John Riordon, who was standing in the vestibule of the first class coach, suddenly reaching for the emergency cord. By jambing on the brakes, according to Constable Phipps, Riordon prevented the coaches telescoping with an increased toll of life and limbs.
The coach was crowded mostly with women. They were very orderly even after everybody had been tumbled together in a heap and there were no cases of hysteria, Mr. Phipps said. There was only one child, an eight year old boy, in the coach at the time. The only injuries Phipps received was when he was hit by one of the cushions.
Mr. William Campbell, 8 Renfrew avenue, who operates the Kemptville Marble Works was returning from Kemptville. He was riding in the last coach when suddenly he felt that it had left the tracks and was bumping along over the sleepers. He then felt a lurch and was pitched headfirst against the iron framework of a seat opposite.
Two Nuns Injured
Sister Mary Clement, Mother General of the House of Providence, Kingston and Sister Mary Charles, also of Kingston, were among the severely injured. They were coming to Ottawa to attend the funeral of Archbishop Gauthier. They occupied the last coach, and were both thrown violently to the floor of the coach, and down the steep embankment when the coach left the track. They were hurled among satchels and hand baggage with broken windows and the debris falling around them. Mother General Mary Clement suffered a bad gash on the head, painful bruises about the face, a badly injured left arm and other injuries about the body. She was reported as doing well, however, at Water Street General Hospitl, where she was removed last night.
Sister Tells Story.
Mother General Mary Clement told a Journal reporter Sunday afternnon that the accident happened with such suddenness that she remembered absolutely nothing before she felt the shock.
The train was crowded, and she found difficulty in obtaining a seat. Both she and Sister May [sic] Charles finally secured a seat in the last coach, opposite each other.
The train suddenly lurched forward to one side. We had no time to get up from our seats, when we were hurled to the ground and down a steep embankment. There were no cries till then, since everything happened so quickly and unexpectedly. There we lay on the ground in the snow, without power to move and surrounded by all manner of debris and baggage.
"It was quite a while before help came, and men lifted me up and carried me into one car which kept the track, the smoking car. I was followed by Sister Mary Charles, and shortly afterwards medical assistance arrived, after which we were removed to the hospital. I am very sick." concluded Mother General Mary Clement, and she closed her eyes.
Sister Mary of the Precious Blood, a niece of the late Archbishop Gauthier, is a member of the community at Kingston.
The conductor of the ill-fated train, John Young of Prescott, who is particularly well known in Ottawa, having been in the service of the C.P.R. for over 30 years, who escaped without a scratch, told a hurried story of the affair when seen at Union Station Saturday evening at about eight o'clock. Conductor Young's first intimation that something was wrong came as he was entering the smoking car from the first class coach. It was probably this fact that enabled him to escape without an injury. He said he felt a severe jolt immediately followed by a terrible grinding. It was the noise of the wheels skidding along the tracks and ties. He knew in a flash that it was either a derailment or a collision and looking out saw what had happened. He at once started to do his utmost for the relief of those imprisoned in the coaches and to arrange for relief to be despatched from Ottawa.
Conductor Young worked indefatigably until nothing more was to be done and then came into Ottawa. He then went to Brady and Harris' undertaking parlors where the body of his unfortunate engineer lay.
He told the Journal reporter of speaking to Engineer White last at Manotick where White appeared very cheery and bright and cracked a joke as he was leaving. He spoke most highly and very feelingly of White's splendid qualities of mind and heart. White was an excellent engineer and a delightful companion.
Fireman's Escape
George Elliott, fireman, had a most marvellous escape. He was leaning out of the coach [sic] when he felt the shock of the engine jumping the rails, and heard the awesome sound of the engine wheels grinding the ties. Then he heard Engineer White yell "Jump for your life!" He leaped out of the left side of the cab, and fell headlong down the crusted embankment. He rolled into the ditch, and when picked up was found to be suffering from cuts in the head and face, and last night was resting nicely. He is a married man whose home is in Prescott.
One of the most prominent Ottawa citizens in the wreck was Mr. Robert P. King, 543 Gilmour street, well know as chief clerk of English Journals in the House of Commons.  Mr. King, accompanied by his wife and Mrs. Mathewson, 134 Stewart street, left Ottawa Saturday morning for Spencerville to attend the funeral pf Mrs. Louise Keeler, who was an aunt of Mrs. Mathewson. Luckliy both Mrs. King and Mrs. Mathewson decided not to return home that evening, but remained over. Mr. King, when brought into the hospital was seen to be rather severely injured, and, while conscious, was in great pain. Medical examination revealed three fractured ribs.
News of the fact that his father was in the wreck was broken to Mr. Arthur King, his son, by The Journal. He immediately hurried to St. Luke's Hospital, fearing that his mother was also one of those who might have been in it. He found his father suffering severely, and was told that his mother and Mrs. Mathewson did not return on that train.
Mr. King was reported last night to be out of any danger.
Small damage.
Supt. Spencer stated Saturday night that the damage to the train would amounrt to about $10,000, and of that amount approximately $2,000 would pay for the repairs on the locomotive. The company's official statements show that none of the driving parts of the engine had been damaged. The coaches, although of wood, were damaged only in the bodies. The trucks are in working order, and the whole wrecked equipment will be in service within a few days.
Accodding to the chief despatcher of the wrecked train, Mr. J.P. McMullen of Prescott, was the baggageman; Mr. Louis Armour, of Prescott, express messenger, and Mr. John Riordon of Prescott, brakeman, none of whom was injured.
Many hundreds of Ottawa residents went to the wreck last night. Scores walked the five miles, while others rode motor vehicles. The C.P.R. police force was kept busy keeping the curious away from the wreckage.
Prior to the morning sermon yesterday, Rev. Dr. A.M. Marshall, of First Baptist Church, spoke with great feeling to the tragedy of Saturday, and bespoke the sympathy of the congregation and whole city for the victims.

Ottawa Citizen 23 January 1922

The body of the late Holland  Edward White, the C.P.R. engineer killed in the wreck near Ottawa Saturday night, which rested at Brady and Harris' mortuary since the fatality, was this morning sent for burial to the home of the deceased railwayman at Prescott. The funeral will be held there tomorrow.
Before the body left Ottawa, Coroner Craig opened an inquest into the cause of the wreck resulting in the engineer's death. After viewing the body, the jury was dismissed until Jan. 31 .when it will assemble in the Ottawa police station and the real inquiry will be opened;.
The jury selected by Coroner Craig is composed of the following: Wm. Sims, foreman: Robert Bell, Jas. Meredith, F. Latimer, Jos. Bergeron, Walter Taylor, Geo. Wallace, and Dan Dorris.

Also reported in the Winchester Press 26 January 1922
In another part of the paper:
An extraordinary incident of the C.P.R. Prescott train wreck on Saturday was associated with a crate of eggs belonging to Mr. and Mrs. B. Patterson, Kemptville. When the coach took to the ditch the crate was thrown across the aisle. Mr. and Mrs. Patterson were injured, but not one of the eggs was broken.

Morrisburg Leader 27 January 1922

C.P.R. Engineer Dies In Wreck Near Ottawa; Eighteen Injured
Prescott - Ottawa Train Runs Off The Track - Engineer H.E. White Scalded To Death In Locomotive Cab - Fireman Saved His Life By Jumping.
Ottawa, Jan. 22. - Engineer Holland Edward White of Prescott was instantly killed and 18 others injured when the Canadian Pacific passenger train from Prescott to Ottawa plunged over an embankment one mile south of Elwood [sic] station and seven miles from Ottawa at 4.45 yesterday afternoon. Trapped in the cab of his locomotive when it overturned on the downward plunge, Engineer White was scalded to death by escaping steam and water. Fireman George Elliott, Prescott, saved his life by jumping.
The injured were:
Details omitted
A relief train from Ottawa brought the injured into the city and they were immediately removed in ambulances to local hospitals. Although the exact cause of the accident was not determined, it was believed to have been due to a spread rail. A peculiar feature of the crash was that while the engine, mail and baggage cars fell one way down the fifteen-foot slope, the next car, a passenger, remained on the track, while the two other coaches went over the embankment on the opposite side.

Eastern Ontario Review (Vankleek Hill) 27 January 1922

CPR engineer dies in wreck near Ottawa ; Eighteen injured
Prescott Ottawa train runs off the track - Engineer H.E. White scalded to death in locomotive cab - Fireman saved his life by jumping
Ottawa, Jan 22 - engineer Holland Edward White of Prescott was instantly killed and 18 others injured when the Canadian Pacific passenger train from Prescott to Ottawa plunged over an embankment one mile south of Elwood station and 7 miles from Ottawa at 4:45 yesterday afternoon. Trapped in the cab of his locomotive when it overturned on the downward plunge, engineer White was scalded to death by escaping steam and water. Fireman George Elliot, Prescott, saved his life by jumping
List of  the injured omitted
A relief train from Ottawa brought the injured into the city and they were immediately removed in ambulances to local hospitals. Although the exact cause of the accident was not determined, it was believed to have been due to a spread rail. A peculiar feature of the crash was that while the engine, mail and baggage cars fell one way down the fifteen foot slope, the next car, a passenger, remained on the track, while the two other coaches went over the embankment on the opposite side.

Chesterville Record Thursday 26 January 1922.

"Jump for your life" cried Engineer White to Fireman Elliott as he felt his engine wheels leave the track about a quarter of a mile south of Ellwood (formerly Chaudiere Junction about five miles from Ottawa) at 4.35 Saturday afternoon.  Elliott leapt from his cab and fell bruised in the ditch on the left hand side of the embankment.  White applied the brakes. The engine bumped along on the ties pulling the rest of the train consisting of the mail and baggage cars and a second and two first class cars as they swayed along the ties for 500 feet.  Then the engine and tender veered to the right, plunged down the steep 15 foot embankment with a hiss of escaping steam it turned a somersault and imprisoned the faithful engineer in his cab.  He was instantly killed.

The baggage car followed the engine and fell on the side while the mail coach shoved its nose in the ditch but stood up.  The two rear first class coaches in the meanwhile lurched over on the left hand side of the embankment and toppled on their sides.  The second class coach and smoker, which came immediately behind the mail coach did not leave the embankment.

The accident was due to a defective rail.

Although there were 175 passengers on board it is marvellous that only 15 were injured and most of these but slightly.

That the second class coach didn’t follow the other coaches in their headlong fall into the ditch is due to the quick action of brakeman John Riordan. He was in the vestibule of the second class coach when he felt the wheels on the ties.  He immediately applied the brakes.  This quick action, no doubt, saved many lives, and there were 80 pasengers in this coach.

The official accident report gives the number of injured as 21.

Ottawa Citizen 1 February 1922

Opening of Inquest Into the Death of H. E. White, C. P. R. Engineer.
No further light was thrown on the cause of the wreck of the C.P.R. Prescott-Ottawa train at Ellwood, on Jan. 21st, by the several witnesses who were last night examined at the Police station in connection with the death of Holland Edward White, the engineer, who was instantly killed when his engine left the track. The inquest did not conclude last night, and was adjourned by Coroner Craig until Tuesday evening, when Mr. George Elliott, the fireman, who is still In the hospital recovering from his injuries, and four or five other witnesses, will be heard.
Last evening, members of the train crew, section men who had gone over the track a short time before the wreck, and others in the employ of the C.P.R., gave evidence as to the wreck itself and what they had seen following it.
None of the witnesses, however, could attach any definite cause for the engine and cars leaving the rails. or could not give any opinion as to the cause of the accident.
John Young, Prescott, conductor of the train, was the first witness. He had been in the second passenger coach and had left to go to the smoker when he heard the wheels bumping and he knew something had gone wrong. The train, he eaid. a second or so afterward stopped short, and later he had seen the baggage car and the mail car and the engine off the track.
He testified he had sent the brakeman to secure assistance, and then started in on rescue work. A short time later, he met the fireman who informed him he could not find Engineer White, and who said he was afraid he was under the wreckage. Witness then told of having found Engineer White in the engine of his cab. When discovered. White was dead. The conductor had examined the track, but had not noticed any broken rail, and he could see no cause why the train left the track. There were no switches at the point, and he did not know of any repairs at that point having been made for some time before the wreck.
John Reardon, Prescott, the brakeman, stated he was in the smoker at the time of the accident, and felt the train begin to rock. He told of immediately pulling the bell rope for the brakes to be applied, and of later seeing the body of the engineer. He has been with the company for about 36 years.
Thrown to the Floor.
John Mc.Mullin, the baggageman. said he had reached for the emergency valve when he felt the train begin to rock, but was thrown to the floor 'before he could apply it. He too, had not noticed any broken rail, and did not know of any cause for the accident. The point at which the accident happened he considered a very good one, and he said the roadbed was in such good condition that no ties had been moved. He was of the opinion that the last two cars of the train were thrown oft the rails by the sudden stop.
Found One Broken Rail.
Mr. F. Belty. 188 Chapel street the divisional roadmaster, told of having examined the track the day after the accident, and had found one rail broken. The break was on the west side, 20 or 30 feet south of the point where the wheels first seemed to have left the rails. The break, he said, consisted of about three inches off one of the corners of the rail. About four or six feet from this break, there was a mark on the rail as if one of the wheels had cut across it. The next rail to the one with the corner broken on it was intact, but a little out of place.
Track Reported O. K.
The section foreman at Ellwood. John McLaren, said he had had two of his men go over the track where the wrecK had occurred the same day. They had passed it about half an hour before the accident and had reported it O.K. when they came in. There had been no repairs made at that point, he said, since the ground had been frozen. He knew of no cause for the wreck.
Nick Tosky and John Riznlck, both of whom come from Billings Bridge, were the sectionmen who passed over the track. They were riding on a hand car at a speed of about six miles per hour, and had noticed nothing wrong. About a week ago before the wreck, they had noticed a little spread in one of the rails, but it was repaired by double spiking.
Walter Benny. of Ottawa, divisional engineer of the section, said he had made an examination of the track about 6.30 the night of the accident, but he could not arrive at any definite conclusion as to what might have caused the wreck. Instead of it being the rails, he said, it might have been caused by something wrong with the erngine, but he said this had also been examined by experts and nothing wrong had been found.
Mr. J. A. Ritchie, K.C., appeared on behalf of the Crown, and Mr. J. Bourinot, of the legal firm of Ewart, Scott Kelley and Kelley, watched the proceedings for the C.P.R.
Only a small number of persons were present.

Eastern Ontario Review (Vankleek Hill) 3 February 1922

An extraordinary incident of the C.P.R. Prescott train wreck on Saturday was associated with a crate of eggs belonging to Mr. and Mrs. B. Patterson, Kemptville passengers. When the coach took to the ditch the crate was thrown from one rack to another across the aisle. Mr. and Mrs. Patterson were injured, but not one of the eggs was broken

Ottawa Citizen 8 February 1922

Jury's Verdict in Death of Engineer White, Killed in C.P.R. Wreck of Jan. 21.
The jury inquiring tnto the death of the late HolIand E.  White, of Prescott. Who was killed in a wreck in the C.P.R. Prescott-Ottawa line near Ellwood, Ont., on Saturday, January 21, were unable to determine the cause of the disaster. Three witnesses were heard last night after which Coroner Craig addressed the jury and the latter retired to reach a verdict. The jury was out about a quarter of an hour.
The verdict read: "That Holland E. White came to his death on January 21. by scalding from live steam when train number 553 was derailed near Ellwood. Ont. We are unable to determine the cause of the derailment."
The principal witness heard lasf night was Georse Elliot, of Prescott, who was fireman on the derailed train. The inquest, which was opened on January 31, was adjourned on account of Fireman Eliot [sic] being unable to attend as he had not recovered from his injuries.  In his evidence, he atated that at the time of the accident the train was travelling about thirty mile an hour. The brakes had been tested about half a mile before the train had reached Ellwood and they were in good order.
The first he had noticed of any thing being wrong was when he felt the engine jolting and the engineer said: "What's the matter now?" and he answered "She's on the ties." He caught hold of the hand rail on the side of the car and the next he remembered he was thrown out. He was stunned but recovered shortly. When he went on the road bed again the engine was in the ditch on the right hand side, wheels up. He was unable to find the engineer.
Other witnessesheard were Harold Amy, divisional master mechanic, and Samuel Jeffrey, road master, who told of their investigations following the wreck.

Ottawa Journal  Wednesday 8 February 1922

That engineer Holley E. White came to his death through scaldlng by live steam when train No. 553 of the C.P.R. was derailed near Ellwood. on January 24 (sic) was the finding of the jury last night. "We are unable to discover the cause of the derailment," was added to the verdict.
Chief among the witnesses was fireman. Geo. Elliott, of Prescott.  He stated he was thrown out of the engine cab by the lurching of the train. The engine was running along about 30 miles an hour. Previous to this about half a mile before Ellwood Engineer White tried his brake and found them all right. The first indication he had that something was wrong was the jolting of the engine on the ties. He had no theory as to the cause of the derailment.
Other witnesses examined included, Samuel Jeffrey, 86 Preston street, the roadmaster and Harold Amy, 478 Gilmour street, the divisional master mechanic, both of whom testified to the condition of the road and the engine.
Dr. J. H. Kidd. who examined the engineer, said he came to his death, from scalding.

Bruce Chapman writes (August 2021)

The engineer on #553 was Mr. White.  It said that he had 7 children, ranging in age of quite young to a teenager.
Believe I wrote about my father, born in 1910, and  having to go to work in the grain elevator at Prescott when he got laid off in the Department of Transport during the Depression.
His best friend from school here at Ottawa Tech was Lauder White from Prescott.  And a yardmaster working at Walkley Yard office was Gord White, who had been a yard foreman at Prescott with the CPR; when they closed the yard jobs there, he had to bump into Ottawa West.  He told me that Lauder was his brother.
So now I am ascertaining that engineer White on #553 was their father.

Return to Main Page of Railway Accidents

Updated 28 August 2021