Details of Railway Accidents in the Ottawa Area

1928, January 30  - Limoges, Canadian National Alexandria subdivision.

From the Ottawa Citizen January 31 1928
Unforgettable scenes as Pres. Cosgrave stands beside dying engineer
After he and members of his party have miraculous escape in wreck of special train at Limoges, near Ottawa, Irish Free State Chief Executive plays gallant and leading part in rescue work.
Wreck due to locomotive traveling at high speed splitting switch.  One observer thinks rail broken. Dr. Stoness of Vars makes epic trip on hand car.  One dead nine injured.
President William T. Cosgrave of the Irish Free State, when he returns to Ireland will carry with him a vivid rembrance of the thrilling experience which befell him, when the special C.N.R.  train on which he and his party, with railway officials and newspapermen, were travelling from Montreal to this city yesterday, was wrecked at a point just east of Limoges, formerly South Indian station, at 12.05 noon.
That President Cosgrave and all members of the party escaped unscathed, in view of the terrific smash which occurred when the train, travelling at fifty-five miles an hour, became derailed, is considered by railroad authorities to be little short of miraculous.
Indeed, grave fears had been entertained as to their safety when the news reached the capital of the wreck, specifically when word went around that a special train with nurses and doctors aboard had been despatched to the scene.
The wreck, stated by C.N.R. officials to have been due to the locomotive splitting a switch, and crashing into some boxcars on a siding, then demolishing a granary near the track before turning over in the adjacent field, brought death to one of the train crew, and injuries to nine others, one of them seriously.
The dead man, Pilot Engineer A. Boyd of Montreal, who was at the throttle of the big locomotive speeding at fifty-five miles an hour to the Capital was crushed to death in the wreck of the engine, and thrown from the cab when the locomotive overturned.
Three teams of horses kileld when granary demolished by locomotive.
The most seriously injured of the train crew, was brakeman Frank Lafleur, who when the ?? came was sent flying to the ?? of the car and his right leg was broken when it became wedged ? a seat.
Engineer R.G. Day and Fireman Legault escaped with injuries to their heads and the others, dining car employees, H. Sadler, H. McIntosh, ? A. McLaurin and B. ? were only slightly injured by being thrown about when the dining car fell over on its side.  All of the injured were from Montreal.
Three teams of horses standing at the granary near the station were killed outright when the engine demolished it.
President Cosgrave and the members of his suite escaped unhurt, although they were badly shaken, and thrown to the floor of their car when the crash came, and their escape is ?almost miraculous.
Entire train derailed.
The train which was composed of heavy locomotive and four coaches derailed entirely.  the engine and tender were torn apart and the dining car turned over in the ditch. The other cars remained upright, although that containing President Cosgrave and his party came near to ? the fate of the dining car and was badly smashed.
Locomotive uncoupled
That there was not greater loss of life and that the distinguished visitor and members of his party escaped ? death or at least serious injury, is attributed to the fact that when the locomotive jumped the switch and crashed into the box cars on the siding, it became uncoupled from the train and continued on its mad ? alone to crash into the granary.
President Coagrave apparently realised the crisis through which he had ?, by the statement he made when he and the members of his ? had recovered somewhat from the shock, "God in His Mercy has ? the rest of us."
? about the president of the Irish State government when the ? crash came which betokened something untoward had happened to declare that he displayed the ? sang froid, and with Dr. J.J ?, of Chicago, his personal physician, helped render first aid.
The distinguished statesman was very distressed upon hearing of the tragic death of engineer Boyd, and had a telegram of condolence at once dispatched to his widow in Montreal.
Rumors Disposed
Sinister rumors were at first abroad to the effect that the wreck was an attempt on the life of the distinguished visitor, but an immediate investigation by CN.R. officials on the spot, and by officers of the R.C.M.P. despatched to the scene on a special train, disposed of these.
Mr.J.P. Hanratty, of the C.N.R. Natural Resources department aboard the wrecked train, stated that the cause of the wreck had been undetermined, but that there was absolutely no ground for any asumption that the switch which figured in the disaster had been tampered with.
"The cause of the wreckis one of the mysteries of railroading," said Mr. Hanratty.  "The regular motor train due at Limoges at 11.16 had passed this switch less than an hour before we came to it, and there had been no movement at that point prior to our arrival. It is certain, however, that the wreck of the train was due to an accident, the cause of which only a technical investigation will reveal."
The late pilot engineer of the train, Mr. A. Boyd was one of the most experienced engineers in the employ of the company.
Threw on Emergency
According to Engineer R.G. Day, who was in the cab of the locomotive with his fireman Mr. A. Legault, just prior to the engine taking the siding, he saw Engineer Boyd throw on the emergency brakes, thus indicating that he had either seen something on the track ahead or else realized there was something wrong.  Immediately the engine took the siding and he remembered nothing more until he and his fireman were crawling from the wrecked locomotive.
As soon as word of the wreck reached the city, a special train with Doctors McKinnon and Gardmer, and railway and R.C.M.P officials was made ready and left within ten minutes, making a quick run to the scene of the accident.  There the injured were given first aid, especially brakeman Lafleur who was suffering intensely and the return trip was made to Ottawa where a huge crowd had gathered, attracted by the news of the accident to the presidential train, and who gave President Cosgrave and those who accompanied him a great welcome.
The special train bearing the distinguished visitors to the Capital was travelling at a speed of fifty-five miles an hour when the accident occurred.
When the train plunged into the open switch the engine rolled over on its left side and crashed into a line of standing box cars.  The coupler between tender and diner gave way and the dining car rolled over three times on the right side of the rails.  President Cosgrave's private car came next and wobbled dangerously, but did not overturn.  Behind this was the press car which remained on the rails.
President Renders Aid.
Immediately after the crash, President Cosgrave, who had been chatting in his coach, looked to the safety of his sister-in-law and her husband who were in the dining car. Learning that they were safe, the Irish statesman plodded through snow drifts almost waist deep, going from place to place visiting the injured and inquiring as to their hurts. The president then took an active part in the direction of the rescue work and offered his valuable advice.
A Touching Scene
As Pilot Engineer Boyd was breathing his last Abbee V.M. Pilion of South Indian arrived just in time to recite prayers in unison with another clergyman.  During the reciting of the prayers the president and his minister stood with bared heads.  After Boyd had passed away President Cosgrave gave the priest a photograph of himself and inscribed upon it: "In Memory of your devoted services to the dying in the regrettable accident at Limoges."
Doctor on Hand-car
As the rescue work was going on a black bobbing speck appeared on the tracks coming toward the wreck. The approach was watched eagerly and the speck turned out to be Dr. F. Stoness of Vars, who, on learning of the smash, leaped to a hand car, and desparately pumped his way to the scene to render any assistance possible. Dr. Stoness came a distance of eight miles, braving the cold wind, and was well nigh exhausted when he pulled up at the wreck.
"We were lucky", said Conductor Albert Johnston, when he stepped into the check room at Union station after the special train sent from Ottawa arrived back in the Capital.  The conductor received only a slight cut on one of his hands.
- - more eyewitneses accounts of the wreck.
A wrecking gang succeeded in getting the right of way clear by ten o'clock last evening so that traffic to and from Ottawa and Montreal was not nterfered to any extent.
- - more eyewitness accounts of the wreck.
Tribute to bravery
President Cosgrave said he wished to associate himself with the remarks of premier King in his message of sympathy to the bereaved. In a fine passafe President Cosgrave then paid tribute to those in the accident. "I have witnessed some stirring incidents," he said, "but never finer examples of bravery and coolness."
There was not the least bit of panic, and one man lying with a broken leg, kept inquiring: Are the guests all right?  The country that produces men like that is bound to be all right."

Sleigh runner caused wreck.
C.N.R. officials establish cause of special train derailment after searching probe
Mr. A.E. Warren, general manager, Central region, Canadian National Railways and engineering and other officers at noon today definitely established the cause of the derailment of the special train carrying President W.T. Cosgrave to Ottawa.
A searching investigation was carried out immediately following upon the accident and continued throughout the night.  Evidence was given that two horses drawing a heavy log sleigh had run away from the loading siding at Limoges a few minutes before the arrival of the special train.
One of the runners of the sleigh jammed in and wedged over the switch point at the east end of Limoges yard, some distance from the station.  The horses were later brought to a standstill and returned to their driver,
The incident attracted no special attention in the rural community, and it was not known that the runner of the sleigh had turned the switch forcing the points open by the force of its impact, but as a result, when President Cosgrave's special train came along a few minutes later, it went through the switch on to the passing track, and by reason of the sharp turn became derailed.  The sleigh and the switch were examined by experts this morning and it was established by the paint marks on the switch and the marks on the runner of the sleigh, along with evidence given by local witnesses, that this had been without doubt the cause of the accident

From the Reading Eagle January 31 1928
Welcomed as the representative of the youngest of the British Dominions, William T. Cosgrave, head of the Irish Free State, faced a light program today, his last at Canada's capital.
Seemingly none the worse for the derailment of his train yesterday, in which one man was killed, Mr. Cosgrave had only a luncheon engagement ahead of him before he entrained for New York via Montreal.  During the morning hours a drive around the city was the only event on his schedule.
President Cosgrave aided in the work of rescue when his train jumped a switch at Limogese (sic) about 23 miles from Ottawa, while making 55 miles an hour.  He aided in extricating the injured from the overturned engine and cars and sent a telegram of condolence to the family of J.A. Boyd, railroad foreman of Montreal, who died at the throttle of the Presidential train.  His private car left the rails, but did not overturn, and no member of his party was injured.
Following an enthusiastic wecome at the station, Mr.Cosgrave was taken to the Parliament House where Premier MacKenzie King called attention to his presence in the gallery as members cheered.
In the evening he was guest at a dinner given by Premier King.  Tribute was paid at the dinner to President Cosgrave's coolness at the time of the accident and his work in aiding the injured and calming the fright of the other passengers.
Not work of plotters
Although the Royal Canadian mounted police and railway inspectors were convinced today that the derailment of President Cosgrave's train yesterday was purely accidental, the guard abut the head of the Irish Free State was increased.
Railway officials said that investigation of the wreck, which cost the life of a railway foreman, had definitely put to rest rumors that it was caused by plotters against the Irish president.

Additional pictures can be found here:

Return to Main Page of Railway Accidents

Updated January 2014