Details of Railway Accidents in the Ottawa Area

1970, December 29 - 10 car derailment of Canadian National eastbound "Super Continental" at Dunrobin, 13-15 injuries.

Eight cars of the 12-car Super Continental left the tracks near Dunrobin. Out., 20 miles northwest of Ottawa, slightly injuring 15 persons. The passenger train, travelling east on the Vancouver-Montreal run derailed about 500 yards from the nearest road. Snowmobiles were used to carry the injured to ambulances after the early evening wreck. The eight cars which left the tracks came to rest in deep snow, about 20 feet from the rails. At the current Canadian Transport Commissions safety hearings, Chairman D. H. Jones criticized the CNR for the handling of safety procedures following the derailment.

Ottawa Citizen 30 December  1970

10 cars flip the rails- only 13 injured
By Bert Hill and Chris Vernell Citizen staff writers
Only two persons were detained in hospital following the derailment of the crack Canadian National Super Continental train, 20 miles west of Ottawa late Tuesday afternoon.
Ten cars left the track one flipped over on its side about a mile from the village of Dunrobin. The engine and another car stayed on the tracks. More than 500 yards of track was ripped apart or thrown out of alignment.
CNR police are investigating the accident. Its cause is undetermined but it is known that it started with the back wheels of the locomotive.
A CNR spokesman said today he doubted the rails were responsible for the pileup. They were laid less than three years ago a short time in the life of railway track.
It is expected to re-open the line to traffic travelling at reduced speeds by late Thursday night.
CP Rail tracks will be used until the cleanup is completed.
The CNR spokesman said estimates of damage have not yet been made, but added it would have been kept to a minimum because of deep snow which cushioned the impacts. Each passenger car is valued at $250,000.
Thirteen persons received treatment for minor cuts and bruises at two Ottawa hospitals. Gordon Hamilton, 60, of Montreal, and Evelyn McPhail, 54, of Melville, Neb., were admitted to Civic Hospital. Mr. Hamilton suffered a wrenched back while Miss McPhail, who suffered a bump to her head, was held for observation.
The train was carrying 160 passengers.
House shook
Mrs. Frances Kavanagh, who lives a quarter-mile east of the straight stretch of road where the accident occurred, was preparing supper at the time of the derailment at 5.30 p.m.
Mrs. Kavanagh said she did not realize the train was off the rails until her son told her.
A passenger staggered into the house about 6 p.m., she said, having walked across the field. Later, two youths on a snowmobile brought train conductor Paul Machy over so he could telephone Ottawa for assistance.
Other snowmobilers brought injured people over to ambulances waiting by the house. Some of the injured were carried across by stretcher in the subzero weather.
A special three-car relief train arrived about 8.30 and returned to Ottawa with the weary, anxious passengers shortly after 11 p.m.
Conductor Machy said no one panicked in the confusion. Passengers were moved into an observation car and a parlor car to wait for rescuers.
At Ottawa Station, the passengers, many of whom had had nothing to eat since noon, were fed and bundled on special trains to continue their east-bound journey.

(See also page 17)

Supper time saves trains passengers
By Bert Hill Citizen staff writer
Suppertime saved countless people from serious injury when the CNR's Super Continental jumped the tracks near Dunrobin Tuesday.
The only sleeping car No. 20 to flip over on its side in the derailment contained only two persons. The rest had gone to the diner at the first call
"I was standing with my hand on the door," said Francis Lemieux, 68, of Longlac, Ont., one of the 160 passengers.
"One moment I was standing upright, the next my head was on the floor. I'm never going to forget that.
"First I wanted to smash a window because I was afraid of gas, but then I discovered I was standing on the window."
Mr. Lemieux tried to reach a woman, the only other occupant of the bad-' ly damaged car, who was crying with pain from a shoulder injury. "But there was luggage and shoes and stuff all over the place and I got tangled in the curtains."
All the lights were out in the car, he said, but finally he helped her by pushing her out by her legs.
Ray Story of Scarborough said his greatest fear was that his car would derail. "We could hear the rails splitting, and in our car the berths were coming down. "'
"Some people were injured in the washrooms or in between cars."
Everything flew
Glen Cheriton, travelling from Edmonton, said two tables broke loose in the dining car and cutlery and dishes flew off the tables.
Despite all the flying missiles, only one person, a steward, was hurt, while one of the waiters may have been scalded.
Two students, Ellen Hagenan, 21, and her brother Rob, 22, of Seattle, Wash., were on their way to Montreal to visit their parents.
Rob said the track was straight at the accident site and the train appeared to be moving at 35 miles an hour.
"It felt like it was braking badly. The shocks increased and then everything was thrown around in the dining car.
"It was quite exciting. I wouldn't have missed it for the world."
But for one passenger, who declined to identify himself, it was just another annoyance in a trip running behind schedule.
"There was a lot of shaking; we heard a lot of rumbling and then we waited for three hours to get out."
A relief train had brought the passengers to Ottawa from the accident site.

Ottawa Citizen 30 January 1971

CN must Shape up
By The Canadian Press
The Canadian transport commission laced into Canadian National Railways Friday for its handling of safety procedures following a passenger train derailment last month.
Commission chairman D. H. Jones said he was "gravely concerned" about the unclear lines of authority and responsibility in the company that were evident following a derailment of the Super Continental near Dunrobin Dec. 29.
He called on CNR to clarify "the responsibility and authority of officers of the company who have direct concern in dealing with accidents."
A commission investigation had shown that the accident occurred at 5.30 p.m. about 25 miles west of Ottawa. The relief train did not arrive at the scene until 9 p.m.
Further, the investigation showed, "the first call for an ambulance to treat injured people was received at 7 p.m. from a man who lived along the railway track."
During the commission's special inquiry into railway safety, it had asked both CNR and CP Rail to explain procedures followed when accidents took place, Mr. Jones said.
"We have been reassured by CP. But we regret to say we are not reassured by CN."
The commission considered the matter "so urgent and so serious" that it decided to convey its observations to the company, Mr. Jones told the special inquiry.
Mr. Jones said he was "not at all clear" how that function was carried out by CNR.
Earlier in the inquiry, Commissioner J. W. Woodard asked CN's transportation chief Charles Armstrong why there had been the long delay in dealing with the Dunrobin derailment.
"I can see a possible delay of two hours. But that certainly doesn't justify three hours and a half to go 24 miles with a relief train that consisted of a locomotive and a couple of coaches," Mr. Woodard said.
Mr. "Armstrong said all the details of the accident are still not known by CNR.
"I am not going to accuse you of being evasive, but it seems to me that this accident occurred a month ago and you don't seem to have as much information about it right now as we do," replied Mr. Woodard.

Ottawa Citizen 23 March 1971

Train crash aid delay blamed on information
By The Canadian Press
Fragmentary information from the scene of a train derailment at Dunrobin, Ont.. last Dec. 29 helped delay dispatch of a relief train to the accident, the Canadian transport commission was told today.
K. E. Hunt, vice-president of transportation and maintenance for CNR said:
"Too much reliance was placed on fragmentary reports at the early stage. We expect better than this from our people."
About nine cars on a CNR passenger train were derailed at Dunrobin. 23 miles west of Ottawa. The derailment led to only minor injuries.
The CNR vice-president placed no blame on the train crew.

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Updated 11 April 2020