Details of Railway Accidents in the Ottawa Area

1938 April 25 - Man Flags Train on Interprovincial Bridge, Avoids Possible Wreck

Ottawa Journal 25 April 1938

The trans Canada flyer, the C.P.R.'s crack No. 1 train, was delayed at the Union Station 1 hour and 20 minutes early Monday morning when a horse wandered down the enclosed section of the tracks on the Alexandra bridge and died after injuring its foreeg between the ties.
Lucien Gagnon, of 176 Boulevard St. Joseph, Hull, flagged the train to a stop by waving his burning handkerchief when he saw the horse lying across the tracks in the path of the engine, about 100 yards from the Ottawa entrance to the bridge.

Train is delayed.
Bound for Vancouver, the train was scheduled to pull out of Ottawa at 2.20 a.m., Daylight Saving Time. It did not leave until 3.40 a.m., when the horse was removed by tearing off a section of the galvanized sheeting which boarded the right-of-way.
Ottawa Police, CPR. Police, Hull police, sectionmen and train men was summoned to meet the emergency. The Limited was backed into the station and a Conference held in the despatcher's office.The animal, whose owner had not been located, was believed to have made its way over the ties from the Hull side of the river. Galvanized iron sheeting, five feet high, protects pedestrians and motorists on both sides of the tracks and extends across the bridge and for a little distance on the Hull side.
Mr. Gagnon said he saw the animal walking towards Ottawa on the ties as he was going home across the bridge. He ran after it to head it back but the horse ran too. It fell as its front leg caught between the ties and apparently broke. At that moment the flyer entered the bridge from the Union Station.
Engineer sees signal.
Acting quickly, he called the attention of two other youths on the west side of the bridge and then ran along the walk by the girders to stop the train. He lit his handkerchief and waved the burning cloth to attract the engineer's notice. Engineer Alex Huard, of Ottawa, applied the brakes. George Rogers, of Ottawa, was the conductor. With the help of the boys, they tried to get the animal on its feet.
It was impossible to force the injured animal to stand up. The limited was was shunted back to the station and a conference held in the despatcher's office. A derrick or hoist was needed. Hull West sectiomen were called out of bed and Edward O'Brien, C.P.R. investigator, notified along with Ottawa Police.
Sergeant R, Maharry and Constables R. McCulloch and Eric McDonald arrived. The alternative of having the flyer  re-routed by Hurdman's Bridge was considered but railway officials decided this would necessitate too long a delay.
In the interval the aged animal died, either from fright or its leg injury. A large crowd gathered and the bridge was filled with cars.
Something had to be done and time was slipping by. No derrick had arrived.  Crowbars were brought into action and the horse's foreleg, which had slipped down between the ties again, was pried loose. The train was brought to the entrance of the bridge again and the glaring headlight provided light to work by.
Horse is dragged out.
As a last resort a section of the galvanized iron sheeting which hemmed the tracks was broken down on the left side by the iron bars and the horse was dragged out by the men with the aid of ropes. The track was cleared.
The horse was carted away in a garage truck and an investigation will likely be made today to find the owner.

Ottawa Citizen 25 April 1938

Man Flags Train, Averts Possible Wreck
When Horse Is Caught Between Railway Ties on Alexandra Bridge, Lucien Gagnon Waves Blazing Handkerchief and Stops Express. Train Held Up More Than Hour Early This Morning.

Keen presence of mind on the part of Lucien Gagnon. 176 Boulevard St. Joseph. Hull, averted a possible wreck of the Canadian Pacific Railway western train on the Alexandra Bridge early this morning when he flagged the train by means of a lighted handkerchief. A horse which had strayed onto the tracks had fallen across one rail with a broken leg just as the crack No. 1 train was rounding the high trestle out of the Ottawa Union Station.
Knew Train Was Due.
Gagnon who was returning to Hull from his work in Ottawa at 2.15 this morning saw the horse coming down the tracks as he started to walk across the bridge. Aware of the fact that a train was due in a few moments, he leaped the low guard rail and started down the tracks across the bridge to meet the oncoming horse. As he met up with it the horse took fright and bolted past him.
Unable to run very fast, owing to the unevenness of the track, Gagnon. however, went rapidly as he could after the bolting horse, When the horse reached a point about 75 feet from the Ottawa end of the bringe it suddenly stumbled and fell.
Body Across One Rail.
The animal had broken its right foreleg through one of the trestles and as it fell its body was jammed between the girders and across one rail.
When Gagnon reached up with the horse he heard the whistle of the train as it rounded the curve across the high trestle just outside of the Union Station. Quickly pulling his handkercnief out from his pocket, he lighted a match to it and ran down the tracks to meet the approaching train waving the burning pocket handkerchief.
The engineer, who was just getting up speed, seeing the man running towards the train with something burning in his hand, at once applied the brakes and brought his heavy train to a stop with all possible speed.
When the engineer got down from his cab he found that the train had been halted just a few yards away from where the stricken animal lay in the path of his train.
A call was at once put into Hull and Ottawa police who responded immediately. Although more than a dozen men tried to move the horse. it proved too heavy. Before a veterinary surgeon could be callled to destroy the animal it died.
An investigation by the police officers disclosed that the horse must have wandered onto the C.P.R. tracks at the St. Henri street crossing in Hull and that unable to leave the tracks had just kept on its way until it reached he bridge.
Speaking to The Citizen, Gagnon said that when he saw the: horse he got the surprise of his life, but knowing that a train was due shortly, leaped over the guard rail and headed down the track to catch the animal. As he reached the horse, the animal bolted past him. The big ties made it impossible for him to follow at any great speed.
"As I finally caught up with it when it fell, I heard the whistle of the train as it started across: the high trestle. The only thing I had that could make a flare was a big pocket handkerchief and I took it out and set a match to it," Gagnon said. "I sure was glad when that train started to stop. It was a heavy train and there were so many people in it."
Congratulations were showered upon Gagnon for his presence of his mind by police and railroad officials.
Track Cleared
Hull police were first called to he scene. Seeing that the animal was on the Ottawa end of the bridge and on C.P.R. property they vere unable to destroy the animal.  They called the Ottawa police and the animal died, probably from fright and pain, just as the city police arrived. Inspector J. W. Friend Ottawa Humane Society also was called but found his services not needed.
A towing truck was called from Hull to be used as a derrick to lift the dead horse from the tracks but before it arrived the animal's leg was freed from between the ties and a piece of tin ripped off the side of the bridge. The body was then rolled onto the sidewalk completely free of the train tracks.
The train, which pulled out of the Union Station at 2.22 a.m.. D.S.T. was in charge of Conductor George Rogers, of Ottawa, and Engineer Alex Huard, also of Ottawa.
Might Have Been Serious
The spot where the horse fell with a broken leg was about 75 feet out across the bridge over the Ottawa river. Had the train crashed into the heavy animal, jammed as it was between the ties and the girders, across one rail, a serious accident could quite easily have occurred, observers said. The animal was a particularly heavy one and the engine crashing into it might have resulted in the train being derailed with possible loss of life and serious property damage, it was said.
It was twenty minutes to four this morning before the train finally was able to continue on its way towards the Pacific coast.
The accident attracted not only the passengers from the train but many other persons using the bridge, all of whom stopped to see what had happened. Police officers had a difficult time for about half an hour keeping traffic moving on the bridge.

Ottawa Citizen 9 June 1938

Men Who Flagged Train Rewarded
Presentations were made yesterday afternoon to two young men who flagged the west-bound C.P.R. Imperial train early in the morning of April 25 when a horse got on the railway tracks of the Interprovincial Bridge.
Roland Sarault, 22, of 331 Dalhousie street, actually stopped the train by running up the tracks and waving his arms to get the attention of the fireman and engineer. Lucien Gagnon, 23, of 176 Boulevard St. Joseph. Hull, first noticed the horse on the right-of- way and told Mr. Sarault.
Gagnon shortly after the event received the congratulations of the Prime Minister for his courageous action. Investigation revealed the part Mr. Sarault took in the incident. The C.P.R. head office was informed of what had taken place and sent two checks, which were presented yesterday.
The presentation was made by William Garland, assistant superintendent of the division, in his office at Union Station. Also present were F. Perkins, divisional master mechanic. Smiths Falls; E.E. Clapham, claims agent, Montreal; and Edward O'Brien, chief of investigation, Ottawa.

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