Details of Railway Accidents in the Ottawa Area



1930, August 28 - Canadian Pacific - Pembroke




Tidbits by Duncan du Fresne, Branchline September 2006

On August 28, 1930, train No. 7 left Ottawa with engine 2217 (4-6-2) on the point. The 2217 was not the regular engine, however, and one of the newer and larger 2300's would normally have been assigned. The engineer was George Clark, and the fireman was John Shouldice. In any event, it seems the trip was going along normally when, approaching Pembroke (mile 93) at about 12:40 A.M., someone had left the east switch of the passing track open and No. 7 went into the passing track at a fair rate of speed and overturned onto the Ottawa River side of the track, but did not roll over into the river. George Clark was seriously injured and scalded in the wreck and John Shouldice was critically injured and scalded and died as a result of those injuries. Interestingly enough, John Shouldice was the fireman on a troop train en route to Petawawa a year earlier, which was wrecked at Sand Point, and he survived that one unscathed! I guess John's luck had run out as he was working on No. 7 as a spare fireman as the regular fireman, Robert Baugh, had booked off.


Two of the heavyweight cars list toward the Ottawa River without even breaking a window.   Photo courtesy Lorne Blackburn.

Another interesting point is that back in the 1904 head-on at Sand Point, (see May 2006 Branchline) George Clark, who was a fireman at the time, missed the trip when the head-on took place, and the spare fireman who replaced him was killed in that affair. Train No. 7 at the time of the Pembroke affair went by the name of the "Trans Canada Limited". As near as I can determine 1930 was the last year for this name to be used and by the following year the train was called "The Dominion". That name stuck right until the end, when on January 11, 1966, the last "The Dominion", ever, made its final run from Ottawa to Montreal behind RS-10 8470, with engineer Johnny Gillespie doing the honours.


The all steel Combine on the head end of No. 7 came to rest at quite an angle, but intact. The main line is in the foreground and that's an N-2 class, 3700 series 2-8-0 with the "big hook" in the background. There's little doubt about the mileage on the Chalk River sub., that Combine just about took out the milepost. There was no shortage of on-lookers, the whole town showed up. There was a definite shortage of security forces - can you imagine the Company or the local constabulary allowing that to happen today? Photo courtesy Lorne Blackburn.

Actually there was a third person in the cab of the 2217 that night. He was Basil Watson. I'm not sure if he was even a CP employee or not, but, in any event, he was along for the ride, - a ride that almost killed him, and certainly left him badly injured. According to retired CP locomotive engineer Lome Blackburn, (step) grandson of George Clark, the fact that George had allowed Mr. Watson to ride on the engine, he had contravened Company policy (or rules) or something, and when it came time for George to take his pension that incident came up and adversely affected his pension! I'm not surprised, - Lome wasn't either.


Two more tough heavyweights lean precariously toward the Ottawa River. In the lower right of the photograph is one of the trucks off the tender of the 2217.

One of the very interesting facts about the "affair" in Pembroke is that the cars on No. 7, by 1930, were all of steel construction, unlike those cars involved in the head-on at Sand Point back in 1904. In the 1904 affair, about a dozen people were killed and many others injured as the wood constructed cars "telescoped" into each other and were prone to burning. An examination of the poor quality photograph above, taken the following day at Pembroke, shows what a difference steel construction makes. Only one employee on the train (other than those on the engine) was hurt, although I'm certain the sleeping car passengers got a rude awakening!


CP light Pacific 2210. The 2200 series coal burning, hand fired engines were old (1906-14), well designed, and all were modernized to one degree or another as the years went by. They were good engines and well liked. The 2210, is much like the 2217 in this month's Tid Bit. The 2210 got an Elescp water pump and heater, a vestibule cab, a cross compound 81A" air compressor, new frames and cylinder saddle and other refinements by the time this picture was taken by the author at CP's Glen Yard in Montreal in 1947.

From the Ottawa Citizen  29 August 1930

Fireman Was In Wreck of Train At Sand Point
John Souldice, 32-year-old Fireman Critically Injured in this Morning's Wreck, Escaped Then
George Clark, Engineer Had One Narrow Escape
26 years ago He Laid Off Run and Substituting Fireman Was Killed
John Shouldice, 32 year-oid Ottawa fireman who is lying in Pembroke Cottage Hospital in a critical condition following the derailing ot the C. P. R. trans-Canada flyer at the end ot Pembroke early this morning, was fireman on the C.P.R. special troop train which was wrecked near Sand Point last summer. The troop train was carrying soldiers and horses from the eastern part of Canada to Petawawa for the annual camp there. The coaches left the tracks and one soldier was killed. Shouldice then escaped unscathed.
George Clark, who was engineer on the trans-Canada had a close call about 28 years ago. At that time he was fireman on the regular crew which took the Sault train out of Ottawa. On one trip he laid off and it was on that occasion that a spare fireman, named Dubois, who had taken his place was killed when two passecger trains collided head-on at Sand Point. About 12 persons were! killed in the wreck,
 Went on Fishing Trip
Robert Baugh of Booth street. Clark regular fireman, by a coincidence, booked off for last nights run so that he could go on a fishing trip and John Shouldice took the run in his  place. Mr. Baugh is out ef town today and tt could not be learned if he knew of the accident.
The train crew on the ill-fated flyer took charge of the train at Union Station and were booked to take it through to North Bay. The engine crew took charge of it at Ottawa West and were to take tt to Chalk River where they would get the eastbound trans - Canada and bring it into Ottawa. The engine crew is attached to the Chalk River subdivision and is the regular crew on CPR trains 7 and 8, the west and eastbound Trans Canada.
The engine attached to the flyer was 2217 which had been pressed into use only a few days ago to replace one of the latest 2300 class which had gone into the shops for repairs.
Wire repair train
A wiring repair train left Ottawa West CPR station at six this morning to repair the damage done the wires by the carrying away of telegraph poles, when the engine left the track. The train crew was as follows:D. McDiarmid, conductor: R. McIlquhan,engineer; R. Brunet, fireman. The train consisted of engine and caboose, the latter loaded with all the necessary materials for a quick repair of the service.
No orders could be sent between Ottawa and Pembroke for a clear track on account of the dead wires. Officials at the Ottawa and Pembroke ends of the line were considerably handicapped by this fact.
Been on run since May
George Clark, age 56, of 34 Preston Street, has seen 40 years service with the CPR. He has been on the present run since May. Previous to this he was on the Sault run from Ottawa to Chalk River. He is married and has four stepsons.
John Shouldice, aged 32 of 66 Loretta Street, has been with the CPR since he started as a call boy at the age of 16. He is on the spare list as a fireman. He is married, and has two children, Allen, aged 3, and Charles, aged one year. His parents Mr. and Mrs. Charles Shouldice live next door at 64 Loretta Street. His wife left last night with her husband's father for the Pembroke Hospital.
Basil Watson, aged to 26, of 637 King Edward Avenue, is not connected with the railroad and apparently was riding on the engine. He is married, and has a three-year-old daughter, Audrey. His parents, Mr. and Mrs. Henry Watson, live at 294 Booth Street
.

Eganville Leader 28 August 1930


Pembroke, August 29 - Four persons were injured, three seriously, early this morning, when the Canadian Pacific Trans-Canada Limited train left the rails at the entrance to the Pembroke yards. A battered and twisted wreck, scattered along the bank of the Ottawa River, is all that remains of the engine, while four of the six cars which comprised the train are damaged considerably.
The injured are: John Shouldice, fireman, Ottawa; George Clark, engineer, Ottawa; Basil Watson, Ottawa, and Lester Weeks, porters, Montreal. None of the passengers were injured.
Shouldice is the most seriously hurt of the group. He is not expected to recover. His skull was fractured and he was severely scalded by escaping steam. When rescuers arrived, Shouldice was still in the cab which had become detached from the engine, and was buried in sand which had virtually filled the cab. Clark, the engineer, was hurled into the river, where he was found a few minutes after the crash. He is suffering from a broken left leg, fracture of the left arm, burns and other injuries, including a deep cut on his nose.
Watson, who was not a member of the crew, but was riding in the cab, was burned about the face and head, while the porter, Weeks, sustained no injury other than a damaged thumb. Conductor's Bravery Praised
The heroism of the sleeping-car conductor, who had to cut his way through a heavily screened window, when he was held captive in the half-buried wreckage of a coach, was described by appreciative passengers, who had been guided to safety through his unceasing efforts. Once freed from his prison of steel, heedless of his own predicament, his first thought was of the passengers imprisoned in the pullmans piled in a distorted pile along the river bank. Grateful passengers, still dazed from the distressing scene, spoke feelingly, and with great praise of his untiring efforts in their behalf.
Inquiry at the hospitals and from medical attendants late tonight, elicited the information that Shouldice's condition is unchanged, and that Watson is also in critical condition. Engineer Clark is expected to recover. It is estimated that the total dam-
age to property will be about $100,000. Switch is Blamed
The accident occurred about 12:50 a.m. as the train, westbound, was pulling into the local yard. When interviewed in the hospital, Engineer Clark was unable to account for the crash, it all happened so suddenly, he asserted, that he did not know what occurred. Several theories are advanced, but until an investigation is made by railway authorities, no statement will be made, according to Superintendent Tobin of Smith Falls, who reached Pembroke early this morning, and is superintending the work of repairing the damaged line and getting the cars back on the track. Some who were at the scene of the accident early state that the train entered an open switch, and this is considered the most probable explanation of the cause of the crash.
When the engine left the track it plowed through the sand between the track and the river bank before toppling over. The baggage car, which was immediately behind the engine, ran past the engine, as did also the dining car, next behind, and the baggage car came to a stop in a position at right angles across the track. The dining car and three pullman sleepers left the rails and were canted over on their sides but were not damaged greatly; two cars remaining on the rails. Passengers, most of whom had retired, received a shock and some were thrown from their berths.
Narrowly Escape Plunge
It is considered little short of a miracle that the entire train did not plunge into the Ottawa River. The tracks run parallel with the river and are only about twenty feet from the water. Steel construction of the cars also averted a heavy death toll.
When the engine left the rails the tender and cab were ripped apart and the tender plunged from its chassis and came to rest beside the boiler. The cab was detached from the boiler and hurled almost into the river and partly buried in the sand. The fireman, who remained in the cab, was dug out with shovels. Pieces of apparatus from the engine were scattered along the bank of the river, about fifty feet. Telegraph poles were snapped off, and wires were a tangled mass.

Ottawa Citizen 3 September 1930

Tells of Error Causing Wreck of C. P. R. Train
Left switch open in lapse of memory, and a race with death failed, says Smiths Falls trainman.
Inquiry on derailment at Pembroke is opened
Walton Featherstone admits forgetting Trans-Canada flyer was due.

Pembroke, Ont., Sept. 2. - Bearing every evidence of the terrible strain he has been suffering and in a broken voice, Walton Featherstone, Smiths Falls trainman on a special stock train, told at a coroner's inquest tonight how a momentary lapse of memory on his part caused the wreck of the Trans-Canada flyer here early Friday morning last which resulted in injuries to Basil Watson, a passenger in the cab of the locomotive on the flyer, which ultimately caused his death, possibly fatal injuries to John Shouldice, fireman, and broken limbs and scalds and burns to engineer George Clark, both also of Ottawa.

Before Coroner Delahey's jury, Mr. Featherstone told of arriving at Pembroke at 11.45 Thursday night on his train, lifting a few cars at Hunter siding, then moving on the passing track to allow the eastbound Soo Express to pass at 12.20 a. m.

Immediately it had passed, or a few moments later, he walked to the engine and asked the engineer if Conductor Brown was down. The engineer had said he was - that he was on the engine, and he (Featherstone) had seen him. He then went up the track and opened the switch so that his train might go out, entirely forgetting that the flyer was due at 12.40. In his explanation to Crown Attorney H.B. Johnson, he stated that usually when the conductor came down to the engine he had his orders "to clear" and he took it for granted all was ready.

After opening the switch he returned to the engine and only after telling the engineer that the switch was open did he realize his error and commenced a race with death to close it. This race was lost by a scant fifty yards as the flyer crashed into the passing track and was derailed when he was but that distance from the switch.

Without the least attempt at evasion, he admitted he had completely forgotten that the Trans-Canada was due and asserted the only reason he had not seen the conductor's clearance on the stock train was that generally when the conductor came down to the engine, he had his orders to go.

Brief testimony was taken from Dr. J.H. Cully, who attended Watson Frank Buder, C.P.R. operator, and conductor Andy Brown of the stock train.

No verdict will be reached until tomorrow afternoon when the coroner and jury will take evidence from the engineer, George Clark, who is a patient in the Pembroke General Hospital and could not be seen this evening.

Both the trainman, Walton Featherstone, and C.P.R. Section Foreman Emile Darby testified that owing to the switch for the passing track being on a rather sharp curve, that the engineer of the flyer could not possibly see the light turned against him until he would be within fifty yards of it.

Ottawa Journal 6 September 1930

Injured fireman now improving

John A. Shouldice, hurt in train wreck, has good chance of recovery.

Pembroke, Ont., Sept. 5 - John A. Shouldice, Ottawa fireman so seriously injured in the Trans-Canada wreck here a week ago, and whose life was at first despaired off, is reported tonight to be showing continued improvement, and his chances for ultimate recovery would now seem to be considerably better, though of course he is not by any means entirely out of danger.
He is now enjoying longer periods of consciousness and as each day passes hope for his ultimate recovery increases.
Engineer Clark also is making satisfactory progress and his condition now gives every hope of ultimate recovery.

Ottawa Citizen 11 October 1930

Geo. Clark Died Unexpectedly In Hospital Today
Ottawa Engineer on Ill-Fated C.P.R. Flyer Was Believed Well on Way to Recovery Until Yesterday.
Second Fatality from Mishap on August 28
Was 53 Years of Age and Highly Popular Among Railwaymen in Capital.
George Clark, engineer of the CPR passenger train which was wrecked at Pembroke, Ont., on August 28, died in the Pembroke General Hospital about 4 o'clock this morning as a result of injuries he received in the accident. Engineer Clark's passing was quite sudden, as reports from the hospital on Wednesday last stated he was resting comfortably and apparently recovering. Engineer Clark's death is the second one resulting from the accident, Basil Watson, of Ottawa who was a third man in the engine cab, having succumbed to scalds and burns a few days following the wreck. John Shouldice, who was fireman on the wrecked train, is at present in a Montreal hospital undergoing treatment for injuries received.
The first Intimation received that Engineer Clark's condition had changed for the worse was last evening when his wife was requested to go to Pembroke immediately. She left on the first train out of Ottawa, but arrived at the hospital a few minutes after her husband had passed away.

- - -

From the Ottawa Journal  Monday 2 December 1937

J. A. Shouldlce Dies of Injury
Fireman on Train Derailed Near Pembroke August 29, 1930.
As  a result of injuries to the head suffered more than five years ago when the western express on which hs was fireman was derailed at an open switch entering the town of Pembroke early on the morning ot August 29, 1930.  John Allan Shouldice, popular Canadian Pacific Railway company employe, died suddenly  Sunday evening at the home of his parents, 31 Armstrong street.
Dr. J.E. Craig, coroner, was notified, and decided that in view of the thorough investigation conducted following the derailment ot Mr. Shouldice's train, a formal inquest would be unnecessary.
Locomotive Topples Over.
John Shouldice was only one of several casualties in the Pembroke wreck. Riding in the cab of the locomotive when it went through an open switch approaching Pembroke station, and toppled over on the very verge of the Ottawa river, Basil Watson, a young Ottawa transfer man, was fatally injured. An inquest into his death was conducted at Pembroke.
Mr. Shouldice suffered a particularly dangerous injury to the frontal bone of his skull in the wreck, and for a long time lingered at the Cottage Hospital, Pembroke, on the verge of death. He was subsequently so improved, however, that he wes removed to Ottawa.
Since that time; although never completely recovered, he had been making steady progress towards recovery, and had undergone several operations.. In view of the nature ot his head injuries, however, his death was not unexpected.
Collapsed At Home.
He was visiting at the home of his parents. Mr. and Mrs. Charles Shouldlce, when he collapsed shortly after eight o'clock. Dr. V. H. Craig was summoned, but Mr. Shouldice was beyond aid, and Dr. J. E. Craig was summoned.
John Allan Shouldlce' was born in Ottawa on March 30, 1896, and had lived here during the greater part ot his life. He was one of the best known employes ot the C.P.R, and was holding the responsible post of firemen on the main line western train when fatally injured. He was a member of the Brotherhood ot Locomotive Firemen, and was popular with all employes of the service.
He had resided for some time at 114 Rosemont avenue.
Mr. Shouldice is survived by his widow, formerly Miss Thelma Verna Lee, and by two sons, Allan. eight years-old, and Charles, six. and two daughters, Muriel, five, and Kay, four years old.
In addition to his parents there slso survive six brothers. George, William. Fred and Arnold Shouldlie, of. Detroit Mich. Miss Jessie M. Shouldice. ot Ottawa, is an aunt
The funeral, which will be conducted by Rev. Norman Coll, pastor of Parkdala United Church, will be held at the Radmore Stewart Funeral Home. 1323 Wellington street at 2.30 pm. Tuesday. Interment will be in Pinecrest cemetery



Return to Main Page of Railway Accidents

Updated 14 January 2021