Details of Railway Accidents in the Ottawa Area

1956, August 29 - Collision on the new line being constructed near Iroquois, CNR Kingston subdivision diversion.  One fatality.

Death at Cardinal
Bruce Chapman

I recently attended a Dispatcher’s convention in Montreal.  Between this and that, the stories started to flow.  One concerned the wreck of a CLC road switcher during the 1950s, somewhere west of Cornwall.  No one could pinpoint the incident but I went home and sifted through my scrapbook collection.  I was successful, finding the following piece from the Ottawa Citizen

The picture in the Ottawa Citizen noted CNR road switcher 2204, a Fairbanks-Morse CLC roadswitcher well-scrunched by a hopper, and under the picture was written 'WRECKAGE LEFT BY FATAL RUN CRASH'.    The headline read 'Train Hits Empty Cars At Iroquois, Young CNR Brakeman Dies Instantly.

IROQUOIS (Staff) - A string of empty work cars, left on other than the customary track resulted in the death of a youthful brakeman in a collision on the CNR's new roadbed near here last night.
John William Hale, 18, of Westville, N.S., was crushed to death between a diesel switcher engine and one of 40 cars loaded with crushed rock. None of the other four crewmen, who like Hale, resided in Brockville, was injured.

‘Mile North Of New Townsite’
It happened at 11.20 p.m. on the new CNR line being constructed just north of the present one, one mile north of the new Iroquois town site.
The heavily-laden train was moving its load from the Harvey Construction Company rock quarries, just west of Iroquois, to the point of construction of the new roadbed when it rammed into a line of some 34 empty work cars parked on a south track.

The new CNR line, to replace the 40-mile Cardinal to Cornwall link as a result of the St. Lawrence Seaway development, was started early in the year.

It is known that the loaded train makes the run nightly to the present work site and enters it on a south track.  The cars are unloaded during the day and the empty cars usually left on a north track to be taken away later by the incoming train.

Reports indicated that the empty cars were left yesterday on the south artery.  A warning was sent to the crew of the operating train, but it apparently did not reach it before the ill-fated run.

The collision, which occurred about 500 feet east of County Road No. 1, derailed eight cars including three loaded ones, and the diesel road switcher.

'Death Was Instantaneous'

Dr. J. R. Miller, of Iroquois, who went to the scene, said that the death of Hale, front-end brakeman, was instantaneous.
Investigation was continuing today, with both police and railway officials probing the circumstances surrounding the fatality.  Coroner Dr. Charles Marcellus of Iroquois, said that the decision on whether or not an inquest will be held depends upon the result of current investigation.

"It came like a bolt oft ouf the blue," recalled the locomotive's engineer, Martin Sheridan.  He told police that the work train was travelling about 21 miles per hour at the time of the collision.  The switch had just been made in the south track when the crash came.

Other members of the Brockville crew were Richard Reid, conductor, William K. Doull, Fireman, and John Roode, tail-end braleman.

OPP Constable Raymond Dowe, of the Morrisburg detachment, investigated the accident.

The victim had only been working with the railway since he moved from Nova Scotia to Brockville a couple of months ago.  He had no immediate relatives in this district.
The body is resting at the Fitzsimmons Funeral Home, Iroquois, from where it will be shipped later today or early tomorrow to the Westville N.S. home of his parents.

500' east of County Road #1 (Carman Road) is basically the site of the Iroquois station on the new line

Extract from the Ottawa Citizen  30 August 1956

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Updated March 2017