Details of Railway Accidents in the Ottawa Area

1934, January 1 - Disruptions from Ice Storm

Ottawa Citizen 2 January 1934

Mass of Ice On Tracks Blocks Railway Trains
Ottawa-Madawaska Route Most Seriously Affected. But Trains on Other Lines Delayed Hours.
Passengers Continue Journey in Motorcars
Conditions Never Equalled Before in Memory of Veteran Railwaymen.
A driving sleet and rain storm, which commenced early Sunday evening and continued most of the night, slowed up steam railway traffic in the Ottawa district to a large extent and in some places caused minor derailments.
The sleet and rain as it came down froze solidly to the rails, and with no trains over some of the lines for several hours, the tracks became a mass of ice through which the trains had considerable difficulty in making any progress.
Although much inconvenience resulted to passengers and railway officials no serious accidents were reported.
The lines most seriously affected over which there had been no traffic Sunday night were: the C.N.R. Ottawa-Madawaska line; the C.P.R. Prescott-Ottawa train; the New York and Ottawa train; the Gatineau C.P.R. train and the C.P.R. Ottawa-Waltham train as well as both trains running between Ottawa and Toronto.
The "pony" trucks of several of the locomotives were actually carried on top or the ice and finally forced off the tracks so heavy was the coating of ice on the rails.
Possibly the reason that in spite of so many mishaps, no accidents resulting in bodily injuries occurred was due to the precautions taken by the different railway crews and also to the slow rate of speed the trains were forced to travel. Travelling so slowly the locomotive crews in cases where the wheels left the rails, were able to bring their trains to a stop before any dangerous circumstances developed. All crews on the different roads had special instructions to take every precaution; against accident.

Blocked Entire Day.

On the Ottawa-Madawaska C.N.R. line, train service was completely blocked for the entire day, and early this morning men were still working between Carp and Arnprior in an effort to open up this line for traffic today. The sectional line between Carp and Arnprior was the most seriously affected. It was impossible for traffic to pass between these points.
After a delay of nearly 12 hours, the passengers on the train that left Ottawa at 7.55 a.m. were transferred by taxi last evening from Kinburn to Arnprior, where they were placed on board the eastbound train which had been stopped there, and the passengers on this train were transported by auto to Kinburn, where they were taken aboard the train from Ottawa. Both trains were then rerouted back over their runs.

Meals Supplied.

During the early morning, effort were made by Superintendent McNaughton to get taxi drivers in Arnprior to make the run up to Kinburn, but every effort proved unsuccessful as it was stated the roads were impassable. In the meantime the passengers on both trains were given meals in the restaurants in Kinburn and Arnprior, and later in the day when it was found that traffic could travel over the highway, the two-way taxi service was started.
From the time that the Ottawa-Madawaska train left the city it experienced considerable trouble with ice on the rails and with the ice and snow frozen between the rails not allowing sufficient clearance for the flanges of the wheels on the trains. So bad were the conditions that the train, due at Galetta, 35 miles from Ottawa, at 9 a.m., did not reach that point unll 12.30 p.m. It was stated that en route to that point the wheels of the "pony" trucks of the locomotive were lifted off-the rails two or three times but that each time the train was stopped and the crew was successful in clearing the rails and allowing the trucks to drop back on the rails.
Then when the wheels dropped from the rails near the switch just west of Galetta station a small section of the track was broken and it was found impossible to get the truck back on. An auxiliary crew was sent out from Ottawa to get the engine truck back on the tracks. Further attempts to get through the ice with the train were abandoned, and over fifty section men were set to work with picks breaking the ice along the tracks between Galetta and Arnprior.

Snowplows Derailed.

At Caldwell, also on the Ottawa-Madawaska line near Eganville, a snowplow was derailed but this obstruction was cleared early.
On the C.P.R. Ottawa-Maniwaki line a snowplow was derailed in Wakefield village at 3.30 a.m. Sunday. An auxiliary train was sent out from Ottawa with the aid of which the plow was placed back on the rails in time so as to cause no delay with the morning passenger traffic.
The Prescott-Ottawa C.P.R, morning train that travels by way of Bedell and Osgoode was far behind its schedule reaching the city. At Kemptville it was stated that at Bedell, half the 63 miles distance to Ottawa, the train was two and a half hours late and it was stated the pony truck of the locomotive left the rails a couple of times between Prescott and Bedell.
Delays were experienced by the Ottawa-Waltham C.P.R. trains. The Montreal-Ottawa C.P.R. train which was due at 7.15 p.m. did not arrive until 10.30 p.m. The early morning pool trains running both ways between Ottawa and Toronto were also delayed. It is understood that the delays on the line to Toronto occurred a short distance to the west of Smiths Falls.

Never Equalled Before.

Speaking of road conditions, veteran railwaymen said that never before had they seen an equal of yesterday's ice conditions to cause such handicap.
Additional section men were called out soon after the commencement of the storm on Sunday evening to keep the Bank street yard open for trains. The section men experienced great difficulty in operating the switches and walking was risky for the men as the sleet soon made a glare sheet of ice in the yards. Several of the sidings were rendered impassable and all day yesterday men worked with pick and shovels clearing these tracks.
Brakemen worked under a handicap as a precaution had to be taken to insure themselves of a safe footing as there was great danger of them slipping and sliding under the wheeis of the engine or coaches,
Owing to the fact that the electric railways kept cars in operation during the early hours of Monday morning to keep the sleet from coating the overhead trolley wires, they escaped the ice conditions with which the steam railways were affected.

Ottawa Citizen 2 January 1934

Jan. 2. The morning train from Ottawa to Pembroke ran into trouble here yesterday morning about 8.45 as it was leaving the station, when the engine ran off the track. The icy condition of the tracks was undoubtedly the cause and the fact that the train had not gained very much speed certainly prevented a bad wreck. One of the rails was broken into three pieces but the engine remained upright.

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Updated 26 March 2021