Details of Railway Accidents in the Ottawa Area

1935, August 24 - The Trekkers March.  Ottawa-Bedell-Prescott-Brockville

Ottawa Citizen 24 August, 1935

Most Of Hikers Seem Tired Of Hopeless Jaunt
More Deserters From Thinning Ranks During Night While Party Camped at Bedell.
Another Breakfast Of Scant Proportions
Police Join Forces To Prevent Any Attempt at .Mass Hoarding of Freight Train.
By STAFF REPORTER About 180 trekkers, all that remained of the original 450. were aboard a freight train from Bedell to Prescott at 11.30 today, having climbed aboard without any police interference. They hoped to get further rides east and west from the border town.
Provincial police, about 40 strong, joined by a detachment of R C.M P immediately started for Prescott by motor with the avowed intention of removing the marchers from the train at that point.
The trek is breaking up fast. Another score lett the march just before the Ottawa-Prescott freight reached Bedell. The C.P.R. Montreal-Toronto flyer stopped at Swann. three miles west of Bedell, today instead of its customary halt at the latter point.

BEDELL. Aug. 24 Today will probably be the last organized day of the "On-to-Ottawa" return trek. Discontented with food conditions, haggard and worn, the ranks of the marchers en route to Toronto were thinned out considerably as many took the first opportunity to leave their comrades during the night.
Declaring their intention to board an Ottawa-Prescott freight due through Bedell at 10.30 standard time, the 200 marchers were sitting about the depot but their spirits were apparently completely broken. However, with this declaration, also came the announcement that the train, which the trekkers hoped to board, would carry a squad of Royal Canadian Mounted Police, who will join forces with the 40 provincial police and Canadian Pacific Railway constables now on hand in preventing any mass boarding of the train.
Freights Didn't Stop.
Freights which have passed through Bedell during the night did not stop to pick up water as is usually done. Engineers had instructions to speed through and pick up water at Chesterville, some distance away.

Ottawa Journal 24 August 1935

Trekkers Board trains For Prescott
Hoping to get Freight Cars Moving West
Trekkers invade railway Yard at Bedell - call R.C.M.P.
Trekkers refuse to walk further
First group of 50 hops on Smiths Falls Freight.

Kemptville, Ont., Aug. 24. - boarding a CPR weigh freight train at 10.55 o'clock 150 trekkers were en route to Prescott today. The trekkers invaded the Bedell station and railway tracks at 6.30 o'clock and made several attempts to board westbound freight trains.
Unsuccessful in their efforts, on account of the CPR authorities running the trains through Bedell instead of making the customary stop, the trekkers took command of the weigh train bound for Prescott shortly before 8 o'clock and waited for its departure. The train is due at Prescott around noon.

Away to Prescott.

Shortly before 10.30 50 of the trekkers jumped on a weigh freight which stopped at Bedell junction on the way from Smiths Falls to Prescott. The marcherss were going to Prescott in the hope of getting another freight West. No attempt was made to stop them.
C.P.R.authorities have asked the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to assist them in handling the trekkers and it is understood that arrangements have been made for a detachment to handle the situation and eject the trekkers from the railway property.
The Montreal - Toronto westbound express which was due at Bedell at 11.15 o'clock did not stop at the station. Authorities brought the train to a halt three miles out of Bedell and took a few passengers from the station in taxicabs to board the train.
E. G. Humphreys and W. G. Harris, who have been in command of the trekkers during their stay in Ottawa, said this morning that the band of strikers refused to walk any further and would do everything possible to board trains. They had little control over the men, as it was quite apparent that their orders had little or no effect over the 200 men.
It was also rumored among the men that the leaders were making preparations to desert their comrades.
Following a long hike from Manotick the trekkers encamped at the  Fair grounds at Kemptville last night and before retiring Comander Humphries informed Staff Inspector A.T. Doyle of the Ontario Provincial Police that they would continue their hike at 8.30 o'clock this morning.

Leave quickly for Bedell.

With only two police officers on duty the trekkers made a sudden departure from the fairgrounds at 6 o'clock and quickly marched along the highway past the Kemptville Agricultural College to the high bridge crossing the CPR tracks just south of Kemptville.
By this time more than 40 members of the provincial Force were on hand to keep the trekkers in order but the marchers quickly turned off the highway at the bridge and swung into the cattle yards at the westerly end of Bedell station. There they joined 50 other trekkers who apparently had slipped out during the night in an effort to board trains for Toronto.
It was not until 8.30 o'clock that a freight was sighted approaching the station. It was the fast freight from Montreal and Toronto which usually makes a brief halt at Bedell for water. The train however, went through at high speed, scattering the trekkers, who had invaded the tracks and the station platform.
A short time later the Montreal flyer from Toronto stopped at Bedelll station but no attempt was made to board this.

Ottawa Citizen 26 August 1935

Men Board Freight Trains After Walking From Prescott
Co-operation Between Railway and Police results in Trekkers Getting Ride Out of Brockville. Fruitless March on Capital Ends

BROCKVILLE Aug. 25. Town today saw the final break-up of the Ontario relief marchers 150 men remnants of the Toronto-bound '"On-to-Ottawa" trekkers. climbed aboard westbound freights to complete their journey to the Queen City which was begunThursday morning after a fruitless march to the Capital.
Co-operation between the railway and police today resulted in the trekkers riding out of here. When opportunity was given them, the men. without food or the means of obtaining it and reduced in some cases to tramping the roads in bare feet, clambered aboard the freight without hesitation.

After the returning marchers had reached Kemptvtlle Friday evening, they were told by their leader, Ewart G. Humphreys, that the trek, as a body of organized men, could not go on. The men, forming in groups, commenced leaving the fair grounds, but about two hundred remained in camp. Some of the men who left found ways of their own in obtaining transportation, but others waited for freights at Bedell.

On Saturday morning the trek showed a weak semblance of temporary reorganization when those who had remained in camp during the night joined their fellows at Bedell in the hopes of catching a through freight to Toronto. There was none, however, but the marchers had the opportunity of riding out of Bedell on a Prescott-bound weigh [sic] freight.

Walk to Brockville.

Reaching Prescott, the trekkers sought to board freights to Toronto but were unsuccessful as the only freight Saturday afternoon passed through without stopping. Then the trek was reorganized to some extent and about 200 men of the original 430 who left Ottawa commenced a 12-mile hike via highway No. 2 to Brockville. a division point on the C.N. Railway. About 150 reached here, the others having fallen from the ranks to seek their own way.
They moved out of here last night and today in groups of 30 on both freight trains and highway transports. Provincial and Mounted Police, here to prevent trouble, did not interfere.
About 75 marchers left here bv freight in two groups, one at 12.20 p.m. and the other at 1.20 p m today. During last night a group of about 30 men left the area, where the men were quartered, in hopes of catching a night freight. None stopped during the night, but the men did not return to the arena to join their comrades. They took to the open highway, hitch-hiking their way home.
At 7 o'clock tonight the final few of the marchers boarded a freight and the march "Back-to-Toronto" was a matter of history.

Police Go Home.

Over 40 Ontario provincial police who had been with the trek since it left Ottawa were given orders to leave for their respective home and soon afterwards were on their way.
The evening meal here yesterday consisted of bread, coffee and bologna sandwiches. They were given a breakfast of coffee and porridge while the mid-day meal consisted of cheese crackers, bread and coffee. All food was supplied by the municipality.

On Top of Box Cars.

Swarming atop the box cars like flies. about 200 men. who had failed to catch trains during the night left Bedell station on a freight at 11.30 o'clock Saturday morning and reached Prescott at noon. Earlier about 50 men boarded a Smiths Falls-Prescott freight and arrived in advance of the others.
As they clambered from the cars In the C.P.R. yards at Prescott, just at the entrance to the town on No. 2 highway, the men formed ranks and marched to the site of Fort Wellington opposite the yards.
Immediately "trek assembly" was called and in a few moments twelve members departed to canvass the town council for food. After some parleying members decided to donate a quantity of edibles with the understanding that the men would leave town immediately after eating. On the trek in to Ottawa, Prescott did not supply any food although marchers stopped over for dinner at the fort. They partook of food which they had with them at that time.
Prescott on Saturday donated 150 loaves of bread, 75 pounds of bologna, 10 pounds of tea, and five pounds of sugar to the famished late arrivals. Those who arrived in Prescott earlier were given 40 loaves of bread. 20 pounds of bologna, two dozen bunches of green onions, and some corn by private citizens.
During their meal each man had to boil water himself for tea, a departure from the pasrt custom of having all food, etc., prepared by the camp cook. Sandwiches were madewith the bread and bologma and heartily enjoyed by the hungry throng.

Donation from Ottawa.

While they ate and rested hundreds of citizens and tourists gathered near the fort to see the much-publicized trekkers, any many people donated small sums of money. At one stage a bus travelling from Ottawa to Kingston stopped near the temporary camp and deposited with trek officials the sum of $3 which the driver had been commissioned to take to Prescott by an Ottawa man and his daughter.
Following the meal, the men again held assembly when the question of transportation was discussed. They heatedly refused to walk and insisted upon marching to the C.N.R. station where they expected to board the only afternoon freight passing through Prescott from Cornwall to Brockville. The parade through town to the station brought out additional hundreds of townspeople and tourists and the main street was clogged. So dense was the traffic it took some time for officers to return traffic to normal.
At the station the men sat along the tracks to wait for the freight, the time of the arrival of which was uncertain to the men. At 5 p.m.. the train was heard approaching in the distance and the trekkers made ready to board it. However, they were disappointed, for the engineer apparently under orders to "high-ball through," kept his throttle wide open and the five-car train sped past without even slowing down.

Order maintained.

When they realized they had to been checkmated again, ugly murmurings were heard from several sections of the trekkers, and many apparently were more than willing to begin some sort of demonstration to protest. Members of the provincial police were at hand, however, and leaders succeeded in maintaining order among the followers.
A few moments later the trekkers lined up in marching order and the twelve-mile walk to Brockville, a railroad terminal point, was begun. As they left Prescott some were heard to agitate for another campaign of road-blocking such as took place as they left Ottawa on Thursday and also as they left Manotick Friday morning, but trek leader Ewart G. Humphries insisted that they march in an orderly manner.
A squad of provincial officers, who had been with the march since it's left Ottawa, were on hand but their services were not required. Twelve motorcycle men kept traffic moving both east and west in the efficient form which they showed during the entire six weeks they had been with the trek. The remainder of the police crawled along behind the trek in motor cars to be near the scene in case they were needed.
In the morning after the trekkers had boarded the train at Bedell, the police escort speeded ahead of the train to be at each station along the way and they ultimately arrived at Prescott a few minutes before the freight pulled in.

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C. P. R. Did Not Object.

No attempt by police was made to stop the men from boarding the train at Bedell as the C.P.R. offered no objections. While the trekkers waited for the freight to pull out at Bedell, a special train carrying Edward W. Beatty, president of the C.P.R., was scheduled to pass through, but it was held further down the line pending the departure of the freight. It is understood that the railway president personally asked that the men be allowed transportation to Prescott.

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Ottawa Journal 26 August 1935 - Exerpts only

Only 20 on each train

While railway and Royal Canadian Mounted police shut their eyes to the violation of the law, nearly 90 trekkers boarded three westbound freight trains here during the afternoon. Earlier in the day police had frustrated efforts of the men to ride the trains. Later, however, the trekkers were told no obstacle would be put in their way if not more than 20 left on each train.
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The 11 women, all who remained of 25 who hiked into Ottawa, hitch-hiked their way into Toronto, after the men forbade them to accompany the trek when it boarded two freight trains at Bedell.

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Updated 20 April 2021