Details of Railway Accidents in the Ottawa Area

1923, October 13 - Locomotive passes over Girl Guides on White Bridge, CPR., Prescott sub., one fatality

Note - The full history of this bridge is shown at:

Ottawa Citizen 15 October 1923

Page 1
Promptness of Miss Parker of Girl Guides Averted a Greater Loss. Engine Crew Saw Nothing.
That the promptness and presence of mind of Miss Eunice Parker, the heroic captain of the troop of Girl Guides which was trapped on the C.P.R. bridge, known as the White Bridge across the Rideau river, by a light engine, on Saturday evening, was what averted a worse disaster, becomes more clear as the details of the girls' story are better known. That the troop of girls of about twelve years old and upwards should have acted under direction so quickly, and done the only possible thing that would save their lives, without panic, and in the coolest of discipline, was a great tribute to the training they had received in the organization. If it had not been for their obedience and coolness the accident of Saturday evening would have been much more appalling.

Engine Crew Saw Nothing.
Mr. J. H. Hughes, acting superintendent. Ottawa Division, C.P.R., in the absence of Mr. H. B, Spencer, stated to The Citizen that engine No. 2213 left the Broad street shops for Union station and crossed White Bridge about 6.03 p.m Saturday. Engineer J. Chisholm and Fireman Scharfe comprised the crew. These men left soon after for Montreal, but he had got into communication with them and they stated they saw nothing on the bridge on Saturday night where Mrs. E. W. Campbell met so sudden and tragic a death.
The men also report that there were no marks on the engine, which travelled head first, to indicate that anything had been struck.
The next engine to pass that way was No. 2611 in charge of Engineer McNeily and Fireman Richardson but It did not cross the bridge until 6.56 p.m. which is some time after the mishap.
Engineer Chisholm and Fireman Scharfe returned to Ottawa, on the train due 11.55 a.m., but had nothing further to report and simply confirmed what they had previously stated in reply to enquiries from Mr. Hughes. Engineer Chisholm lives at 203 Gloucester street.
Mr. Norman A. Irwin of the Collegiate Institute staff, was quite definite in his statement to The Citizen that it was shortly after six o'clock on Saturday night that the engine passed over the bridge and he heard a splash as of something falling into the river.
MacKenzle Bros, ambulance was called for shortly after six o'clock

Page 5
Mrs. Ellen Margaret Campbell, 190 Bayswater Ave., Instantly Killed When Party Crossing C.P.R. Bridge Near Dow's Lake, Meets Locomotive, But Prompt Action of Troop Captain Miss Eunice Parker, 424 Gilmour Street, in Ordering Girls to Lie Down on Edge of Bridge, Saves Many Members of Fourth Ottawa Troop of Guides.

Mrs. Ellen Margaret Campbell, widow of the late Alexander Campbell, 190 Bayswater avenue, was instantly killed, and seventeen members ot the Fourth Ottawa Troop Girl Guides had narrow escapes when the party suddenly met a light engine, about six o'clock Saturday evening, on the White Bridge, a C.P.R. bridge over the Rideau river to the south of the city. This bridge is a short distance south of the road bordering the south shore of Dow's Lake and the Rideau canal.
That all members of the Girl Guides' troop escaped injury is due to the presence of mind of the troop captain, Miss Eunice Parker, and to the splendid obedience to orders of the members of the troop.
Miss Parker is badly upset over the fatal accident, more so because the bridge on which the accident happened is railway property and closed to the public.

Took Short Cut.
The party set out about two o'clock on a hike to the vicinity of Hog's Back and were on their way home when the accident happened. It was then about six o'clock. They were on the south side of the Rideau river and to avoid having to go around either by Billings Bridge or by Hog's Back, Mrs. Campbell suggested that they cross the railway bridge and the others followed. The bridge is about 150 feet in length and is 34 feet in height.
Mrs. Campbell was in the lead with about half the girls and had got across the bridge, while Miss Eunice Parker, 424 Gilmour street, captain of the troop, followed with the rest. This last party was about the center of the bridge while the party which Mrs. Campbell was with had reached the north end, when a light engine appeared from the north, travelling from the C. P. roundhouse to Central station.
When the locomotive appeared, while the several girls were on the railway bridge, there wasn't the least panic among those on the bridge. With great presence of mind, Miss Parker, who was with these ordered them to lie flat along the side ot the bridge beside the rails, and the girls with her, carried out her instructions to the letter. The bridge has no upright sides nor iron girders overhead.

Ran Back on Bridge.
Apparently Mrs. Campbell became worried for the safety of the girls who were still on the bridge and ran back on to the structure. She had got about a third of the way across when the locomotive drew near, when she dropped into the river 34 feet below. Whether she was struck by the engine or fell over the side of the bridge in attempting to lie down like the others just as the engine approached her, is not known.
From all appearances the crew ot the engine did not notice any trouble for the engine was not brought to a stop but continued on. It was growing dark at the time.
Mr. Donald M. Clark, 36 Ossington avenue, and Mr. Norman A. Irwin; 105 Cameron street, both teachers at the Ottawa Collegiate Institute, were down at the side ot the river near the bridge with a boat. They did not see the accident but heard a splash in the water, and on investigating, found Mrs. Campbell's body in about a foot of water, almost directly below where she fell from the bridge. Judging from this, it is believed that. she was not struck with any great force for she would have been thrown forward.

Inquest Is Opened.
Both Mr. Clark and Mr. Irwin set out with their boat to where the body fell in the water, found it and brought it to shore. The Rideau river in the vicinity of the bridge is quite shallow, very rocky and filled with boulders.
When the body was recovered and brought to shore by the two men, Miss Parker went to the lockhouse at Hartwell's for assistance, and Mackenzie Bros.' ambulance was called. Mrs. Campbell was to all appearances dead when taken from the water. Coroner W. W. Saulter, M.D., was notified, and visited the scene of the accident. The body was removed to Mackenzie Bros. undertaking parlors, 511 Bank street, where Coroner Saulter opened an inquest at noon yesterday. After having the body identified and the jury empanelled the inquest was adjourned until a week from tonight at the court house.

Members of Party.
There were eighteen persons in the party, and it is said that nine of these were under twelve years ot age. The party consisted of Mrs. Campbell, who accompanied the troop. Miss Eunice Parker. 424 Gilmour afreet, captain of the troop: Alice Barker, 11 Spadlna avenue; Muriel McKenny, 78 Rosemont avenue: Betty Simmons, Thelma Lee, 219 Armstrong street; Frances and Nelly Burns. Betty and Peggy Arnold, Woodroffe: Jessie Mclntyre. Ida and Helen Williamson. Hazel Brown, Kathleen Sanders, Edna Wilson. Myrtle Latimer and Ada Cathcart.
According to the stories of some of the girls the party had gone by the railway bridge as a short cut, though some of them were not inclined to do so. When the engine was seen coining, Miss Parker ordered them to lie down, and Mrs. Campbell, who had crossed the bridge, started to run back towards those who were still on the bridge. As the engine neared them one of the girls called to her to lie down. After that, as she was on the opposite side of the bridge to them, they could not see her on account of the passing engine.
Miss K. Syms, officer commanding the Girl Guides in Ottawa, had not heard the particulars of the accident so that she could not give a statement concerning it. However, Miss Syms said that the party had no right to be on the bridge whatever, though it is often used by pedestrians. As most of the girls in the party lived in the west end, and were in a hurry to get home, they took the railway bridge, it being the shortest way, and to avoid having to go around by the bridgo at Hog's Back or Billings Bridge.

Made No Report.
The girls were evidently not noticed by the engine crew as they lay upon the outer edge of the bridce. Officials at the C. P. R. station office say that no report was turned in from any engine and that the crew would certainly have reported if anything unusual in the way of an accident had been seen by them. It is probable that in the gloom at the time of the accident, Mrs. Campbell's falling from the bridge was not noticed, even if the engineer had seen the girls lying down beside the track.
It is not known what engine it was that passed over the bridge at that time. Engine No. 2215 left Ellwood at 6.05 o'clock, according to the dispatcher's report, and came into the Central station, later leaving with the 6.55 train for Montreal. But whether this is the engine that passed the Girl Guides on the bridge cannot be no mention having seen them was made by the crew on its arrival in the station.
Railway officials state that the only possible chance for foot passengers on the bridge when a train was passing over it was to lay prostrate on the outer edge. They state that is is a most dangerous bridge to cross on foot at any time

Late Mrs. Campbell
More - personal details

Ottawa Journal 15 October 1923

Mrs. Ellen Campbell. 190 Baytwater Avenue. Falls to Death Off "White. Bridge" on the Rideau - Terrified Girls, on Instruction of Leader, Lie Down Beside Rails and Engine Roan by Beside Them - Fails to Stop.
Trapped on a railway structure known as the White Bridge, that crosses the Rideau River about a mile above Billing's Bridge, Mrs Ellen Margaret Living Campbell leaped off or fell 40 feet instant death on Saturday evening at 6 o'clock under circumstances singularly tragic and terrible.

The dread moments that marked the passing of the public - spirited kindly woman's soul from the finite to the infinite were inspiring in her disregard of self and the frantic concern which she manifested for the young lives of fourteen Girl Guides who were partly in her care and whose safety was imperilled by a great locomotive that appeared unexpectedly travelling southward and with headlight flashing on the twilight of early evening, sped inexorably around the curve and on to the bridge.

Miss Eunice Parker was in official charge of the children. The little girls were running this way on to that in futile terror, when Miss Parker, unperturbed in the emergency, ordered them to lie down on the ties. There was space, precious and sufficient, between the rails and the stringers, as the longitudinal beams are called, and the children, at Miss Parker's command, sank from the site of the terrified people on the banks of the river who were watching the appalling scene.

Demands One toll.

The engine speed by, the children arose pale, trembling, but alive and well. Then it was noted that Mrs. Campbell had vanished, and in the minds of Miss Parker and the little Girl Guides dawned the understanding that the death had demanded a total of one life as the price of the never-to-be-forgotten outing. In the gathering darkness search was made for Mrs. Campbell and soon an inanimate form was found lying on the rocky bed of the river under two feet of water. Her skull had been fractured, and there was no doubt that she had died instantly.

The troop of girls started out from their headquarters in Hintonburg early in the afternoon taking a lunch with them.

Non-railway detail omitted

Going out the party had followed the Prescott highway to Hogs Back, then crossed and came along the east side of the Rideau River to the White Bridge. Then they stopped for a rest and supper, after which they set out for home, deciding to cross the bridge to shorten the journey.

The troop had climbed to the track, and were scattered about the bridge in little groups when suddenly the headlight of the locomotive coming into the city swung into view around a curve before them. All was confusion at once, and the girls began running hither and thither, aimlessly. Mrs. Campbell who was in the lead and safely across, managed to get several of the smaller girls off the bridge. The others started running for the end of the trestle in an attempt to get clear of it. However it soon became evident they all could not do so and Miss Parker, who remained perfectly cool throughout the trying experience, called to them to fall flat upon the ties at the side of the rails.

Among those who were trapped on the trestle with Miss Parker were Alice Barker, Francis Burns, Jessie McIntyre, Thelma Lee, and three others whose names could not be obtained. All the girls were intensely excited and none could clearly remember the details of the experience. Several managed to reach the end of the bridge before the engine was upon them, but these eight girls less fortunate, dropped flat when they saw the hopelessness of their flight, and lay, frozen by suspense and dread while the locomotive thundered by.

Half Way Over
"I was just about half way over the bridge," said Miss Thelma Lee, one of those caught on the trestle, "when the headlight of the engine swung around a curve. I started with the other girls to run for the end, but when I saw I couldn't make it, I nearly died. But then Miss Parker cried, "All lie down flat." I fell down at the side of the track, and shut my eyes. I heard the engine go by, but I was so scared I hardly knew what I felt like. I wasn't hurt at all. None of the girls were, and none fainted, but we were pretty badly frightened."

The Journal goes on to devote almost a page to this incident,much of it illegible.

Ottawa Citizen 17 October 1923
Account of the funeral

Ottawa Citizen 23 October 1923

Verdict of Accidental Death in Inquest Into Circumstance in Which Mrs. E. M. Campbell Lost Life.
The tragic story of the fate which befell Mrs. Ellen Margaret Campbell, 190 Bayswater avenue, when, in endeavoring to look after the safety of a number of young Girl Guides, who were caught by a passing light engine of the C.P.R. on the White Bridge, across the Rideau river, on the evening of October 18 [sic] she fell to her death to the rocks below, was unfolded in the court house last evening, at the inquest conducted by Coroner W. W. Saulter. A verdict of accidental death was returned.
The evidence submitted by a number of the witnesses led to the assumption that Mrs. Campbell was not struck by the engine, but that she in some way fell, when, after reaching safety herself, she ventured back on the bridge, in the face of the approaching locomotive, fearing that some of the girls were in danger.
Coroner Saulter, in summing up after the evidence had been submitted, said that the party of girls were undoubtedly trespassing, by crossing the bridge, and had no right to walk upon the C.P.R. tracks or right of way. It had been shown that Miss Eunice Parker, captain of the Girl Guides, and Mrs. Campbell, who were in charge of the party, had assumed responsibility for the girls being upon the railway bridge, and that both the deceased lady and Miss Parkcr had acted with commendable sagacity in endeavoring to secure the safety of the girls in their charge. While there was no evidence to show how Mrs. Campbell had left the bridge, the assumption was that she had, probably, in the confusion which arose, when the approach of the engine was noticed, ventured on to the bridge from which she fell to the rocks below causing injuries which resulted in instantaneous death.

Attach no Blame.
He was satisfied that the late Mrs. Campbell had come to her death through misadventure, and that no blame, could be attached to anyone, for it was clear that it was due to Mrs. Campbell's maternal instinct, that she had lost her life.
The chief witness was Miss Eunice Parker, 424 Gilmour street, captain of the Hintonburg troop of Girl Guides, who stated that on Saturday, October 18.[sic] at two o'clock, she, with Mrs. Campbell, who was an invited guest, had set out from the Y.W.C.A. with sixteen young girls on a hike to Hog's Back. They went out via the Experimental Farm and the Prescott Highway and returned along the south bank of the Rideau river to a point where they had supper and then Mrs. Campbell suggesting they go back over the railway bridge as a short cut, witness had concurred. She stated that Mrs. Campbell went ahead with a party of girls and witness followed with others, whom she took over to the north end of the bridge about four-fifths of the way, and then went back for others.

Saw Headlight.
Witness was standing on the bridge looking south when she heard someone call that a train was coming and looking to the north she saw the headlight rounding the curve at the approach of the bridge. Realizing the danger the girls were in, she called out to those who could, to make for the platform on ;he west side of the bridge where there was a water barrel. Seeing that all could not get there in time to avoid the engine she called to them to get off the track and lie down. She was certain that when the engine was approaching there was nobody on the track between it and her. She then sat down by the side of the track herself, but not before seeing that there was no one on the track at the south end of the bridge.
When the headlight of the engine came in sight sho had seen Mrs. Campbell, standing on the embankment clear of the tracks with some girls with her, and thought she was safe. After the engine had passed and she had mustered the girls, Mrs. Campbell was found to be missing, and her body was later found on the rocks, about a third of the distance out from the north end of the bridge.

Before Engine Passed.
Mr. E. Clark. 36 Ossington avenue, who with his wife and friends were picnicing near the bridge, told of seeing the girls on the bridge, and the approach of the engine, which had whistled for the bridge. He saw the headlight approach the bridge, and then heard a splash in the water. He was of the opinion that the splash in the passed the spot directly above, and did not believe that the unfortunate woman was hit by the engine. He and Mr. Irwin, 105 Cameron 6treet, who was in his party, helped recover the body of Mrs. Campbell. She was dead when discovered.
Mr. J. P. Chisholm, 202 Gloucester street, engineer, and Mr. Albert Scarfe, 858 Somerset street, fireman on the engine, stated that they had not seen anyone on the bridge, but the former thought he heard someone shout, and the latter someone whistle. They were unaware that on accident had happened until they were telegraphed to that effect by the C.P.R. at Montreal.
Miss Ada Cathcart, 9 Melrose avenue; Miss Alice Barker, 11 Spadina avenue, and Miss Thelma Lee, 219 Armstrong street, who were caught on the bridge by the approach of the engine, told of their experience, but were unable to throw any light on how Mrs. Campbell came to leave the bridge. They stated that some of the girls wanted to go back the way they had gone out, fearing they might not be safe on the bridge. They told of hearing Miss Parker call to them when the engine came in sight, to lie down or make for the water barrel, and they had done so, and thus escaped injury.
Dr. J.F. Argue testified that death had been due to a fracture of the frontal bone, which in his opinion had been caused by Mrs. Campbell falling on a hard object such as a rock
The jury, after a brief deliberation returned a verdict of accidental death, declaring that the late Mrs. Campbell met her death by falling from the White railway bridge of the C.P.R., over the Rideau river, on the evening of October 18 [sic], a distance of thirty-five feet to the rocks below.
Mr. H.H. Hough, claims agent of the C.P.R., was present at the inquest.

Ottawa Journal 23 October 1923

Much of this is illegible here are the headlines and the final paragraphs

Engineer On White Bridge Heard Shout But Saw No One

Skull Fractured.
Dr J. Kenton Argue said that he had examined Mrs Campbell's remains at Mackenzie's undertaking parlors. A two-inch fracture of the frontal bone in the skull caused Mrs. Campbell's death, which must have been instantaneous. The injury was probably due to her falling on some object like a rock There was no evidence of death being caused by drowning.
Coroner W. W. Saulter, in summing up the evidence of the various witnesses, felt that there was no discrepancy in their statements. He recalled the circumstances of the tragedy, and was of the opinion that the ill-fated party were guilty of trespassing and had no right in crossing the White Bridge. He said that the very one to lose her life was the one who had suggested crossing the bridge. Miss Parker had acted with commendable presence of mind in saving the children.
Coroner Saulter said that the evidence heard indicated that the engine had not struck Mrs. Campbell. Probably during the confusion and excitement and in the glimmer of the headlights of the engine Mrs. Campbell had either fallen or leaped off the bridge. Her death was by misadventure or misfortune.

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