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Canadian Rail 471 1999

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Canadian Rail 471 1999

Canadian Rail
No. 471
ISSN 0008-4875
Postal Permit No. 1494279
IMMIGRANT SPECIAL, JUNE 291864 ……………………………………….. . JOHN THOMPSON ………… ..
IN MAY 1999 ………………………………. . DAVID J. MERIDEW ………… .
THE BUSINESS CAR ………………………………………………………………
………. .
FRONT COVER: A photo taken on June 29 1864, a few hours after the Beloei! Bridge Disaster: This view is taken looking south
(i.e. upstream, towards Lake Champlain). The work
of removing the debris has not yet begun, aLthough the drawbridge span is
closed and afreigh! train is passing. The lettering G.TR. No. 7 is plainly visible on the side of the brake van which appears to be
LiTtle damaged. Some of the passenger cars fell towards the south and are visible in. the engraving on page 103. Looking at this
photo it is hard to imagine that
362 people emerged alive from this wreckage.
National Archives of Canada. photo C-3286.
BELOW: An engraving showi
ng the harbour of Quebec in 1859, with lots of shipping visible. The scene must have looked much the
same five years later when the Neckar docked with its load
of immigrants.
The British-American Guide Book.
J 859.
your membership in the CRHA, which
includes a subscription to Canadian Rail,
CRHA, 120 Rue St-Pierre, St. Constant,
Que. J5A 2G9
Membership Dues for 1999:
In Canada: $36.00 (including all taxes)
United States:
$31.00 in U.S. funds.
Other Countries:
$52.00 Canadian funds. Canadian
Rail is continually in need of news, sto­
ries historical data, photos, maps and other mate­
rial. Please send all contributions
to the editor: Fred
F. Angus, 3021 Trafalgar Ave. Montreal, P.Q. H3Y 1 H3.
No payment can be made for contributions, but the
contributer will be given credit for material submit­
ted. Material will be returned
to the contributer if re­
quested. Remember Knowledge is of little value
it is shared with others.
EDITOR: Fred F. Angus
CO-EDITOR: Douglas
N.W. Smith
W. Bonin
F. Angus
PRINTING: Procel Printing
DISTRIBUTION: Joncas Postexperts
The Immigrant Special, June 29, 1864
by John Thompson
One hundred and thirty-five years ago this June occurred the worst train wreck in Canadian history when ninety-nine people,
chiefly German immigrants, died in the Beloeil Bridge Disaster
of June 29, 1864. In terms of number of fatalities, it was worse than
any other train wreck, in either Canada or the United States,
in the 19th century, more even than the worst U.S. train disaster of the
1800s, the death
of 89 people in the wreck of the Pacific Express at Ashtabula, Ohio on December 29, 1876. The Beloeil story has
often been told, but this account by the late Jolm Thompson, completed after his death by your editor, adds much more information.
Some disasters, like the sinking
of the Titanic or the Halifax Explosion, never lose their interest, for there are so many what
ifs that could perhaps have prevented the disaster altogether. That such is the case with the Beloeil Bridge Disaster becomes readily
as we read Mr. Thompsons story. We all know what the outcome will be, but we are drawn along, figuratively speaking, with
the doomed train as we get to know
some of the passengers and vicariously share their experiences. We keep thinking if only this
or that had happened. What
if the circus had not played Richmond that night? What if the crew had delayed a few more minutes at St.
Hilaire to give water to the passengers?
What if Burnie had driven the engine of the earlier immigrant special? What if William
Haggart or Martin Wakefield had been available at Richmond that night?
What if all the rules in the book had been followed? The list
goes on and on. Finally we are thankful that
so many passengers survived what could so easily have been a much worse tragedy, and
that this, and other,
disasters speeded up the adoption of safety devices, like air brakes, that have prevented many similar occurrences.
Strangely, there is some doubt as to whether the engineer
of the wrecked train spelled his name Burnie or Burney. To
avoid confusion we will spell the name
Bmnie. The name Point Levi also has more than one spelling, but we have standardized
that too.
Also, an immigrant is one who is arriving, while an emigrant is one who is leaving. Since these passengers had just arrived,
they were immigrants to Canada, but from the point
of view of Germany they were emigrants, hence the spelling on the stone.
In Montreals Mount Royal cemetery,
in the shade of a
mall group of white birch trees, stands a large granite
mOllument. On that monument, in 15 lines, is carved the
Few people visiting the cemetery stop to read the inscription,
and fewer still know the story behind it. Yet this stone represen
one of the darkest moments in Canadian railway history. Let
us go
back 135 years and find out about it.
On Monday, 27 June 1864 the sailing ship Neckar, out
of Hamburg, Germany, anchored at the port of Quebec after a
41-day voyage across
the Atlantic. That day 538 passengers
left the ship and set foot for the first time on the soil
of North
America at Point Levi, across, and slightly upliver, from Quebec.
Point Levi was about three quarters
of a mile west of the Levis
of more recent times. Most of the passengers intended
join relatives in the western United States, but they would
travel by rail through the Canadas to get there.
Like shoemaker Wilhelm Kehler from Schwerin
in the
Grand Duchy of Mecklenburg, and bachelor schoolmaster
Wilhelm Cordes from Holstein, most of the people were
German-speaking. They came from Bohemia, Saxony and the
of north Germany. There were also Polish families like
Klockotsnichs, Swedes like Johanna Larsen -a good
looking young Swedish girl who had come out alone -and
16 Norwegians among the arrivals.
For some it had been a sad voyage; seven children had
died on the way over and had been buried at sea. Johnann Prewina and his wife had lost a child. So had Franz Kouchal
and his wife.
Theodore Hermann Goring, 6 years old, helped his father
mother haul the trunks into the wooden building on the
waterfront beside the railway tracks. The family staked
out a
of floor and waited in the chaos of the disembarkation until
they were told what next to do.
The next step was explained to
them by an official who spoke German. They must buy their
tickets for the train that would take them we
st, from the ticket
agent behind the wicket.
The official would help translate. All
the rest
of the day the people waited patiently in the long line­
up. One by
one they reached the wicket and explained where
they wanted to go. Wilhelm Noester and
his family wished to
to Hastings, Wisconsin; he paid a fare of $1l0. 2 By supper
time there were still many without tickets. There would be no
train that day.
The passengers from the Neckar spent an uncomfortable
night in the shed. When morning came and the wicket opened,
the line fOlmed once again.
On that Tuesday morning, Charles John Brydges [rather
aptly named in view
of what was about to happen], 37 years
old, Managing Director
of the Grand Trunk Railway, was in his
office at Point St. Charles, Montreal, working on a plan to gain
Brydges was also an immigrant to Canada but had never
spent a night in the Immigration Sheds. A Londoner, he had
begun his apprenticeship
in railway management at the age of
15 in 1842 when he got his first job working for the South
Western Railway of England. He rose to the position of
Assistant Secretary with the company when he was offered the
chance to
become Managing Director of the Great Western
of Canada, a projected line running between Niagara
and Windsor. He arrived
in Hamilton, Canada West in 1852,
travelling first-class, and during the next
10 years he managed
to make the Great Western a profitable
In 1862he was offered, and
accepted, the position
of Managing
Director of the rival Grand Trunk
Railway, British North Americas
longest railway and largest company.
The railway he was now working to
gain control
of was the Great Western.
(He would fail
in his attempt in 1864,
but in 1882, after he had left the
company, the GTR would finally
succeed in its takeover of the GWR.)
In the three years Brydges had
been head of the Grand Trunk,
immigrant traffic to the United States
from Point Levi had become a
of profit for the company. Immigrants
paid second class fares and
most were
carried to the end of the line. The
Grand Trunk suffered from a shortage
of second class cars but, in his first
year as General Manager, Brydges
had approved of a policy of
substituting freight cars for passenger
cars whenever the need arose.
are movable seats provided for in box
cars, he noted, [and] when
immigrants have reached their
destination the movable seats are
packed up in a corner of the car.
cars were then used to haul grain or
cattle from the American midwest to
ports on the Atlantic. It was
convenient for the company, and
Brydges had never heard any
complaints from the immigrants.
r.O.lKC 10
i Land A~ellcy lind Re~~:;-:;: t:.alc qf ,ada Lallds,
, particrilm8 of whicA, 1. Wet[ as 1diaUIJ in./Olmati.rm, (lin ·nmo be ob­
tairlcd at lirWOKS & .1h;.L, 2U9 Piccndilly, london, EIlglnnd) wkidt,
is in connech~on with the 1INlt-I.llfJlvn I,and Agency (lurl Ag1/:­
cultural F.slablis/onent c:l Ur..u. FrLLEf<. & Cu., Hamilton and Torolllo,
COllaJlt rest..
Tho English Regist.ry 101 Propelties ill Cnunda Ci111 now be inspected
at 209 Piccndilly, LOJldoll, ElIglnlnl, froll or expense, which contllins
, the particulars of vfiliollS fll1rns for snlc ill Uppel and Lowo] Cl.lofldn,
(varjing from £+ to £12 fino 1:30 stelUllg ]leI nClc). Brewerics, flollr
and s:l,-mills) hOHses, and lilt descript.iQn:S 1)1 propelf:); nh:iQ 10,000 acrcs
ot land covered with capital growing onk, elm) (tSh, and beech timbe),
~ at flum $6 to $20 per nCl(l, 0r, in Engllsh mOlloy, from £1 -.h~, to £U
: sterling PCl acre.
In I-he Slate of Illinois, t.ilc prop~rty of Martin Zimmerman, ES(h
the eminent rnilwny C(l1ltractor, nre 100,000 aclcs of the very best.
p1ltilie Illnd~J from .£1 to £8 sleliing per ncre. This oil produces 40 :
bn:3hels of whent to the flcre, bcsides I.nc1inn com nnd othor crops. The;
ory best of
shooting: nnd TIl)hing in the distdct.
nl(} tlleo 1,350 ncres or excellent land) somo {OO under cuIli­
vfilioll, 1 miles from the Cornwall station, on Ihe Grand Trunk line i
68 miles from )-(nlltlcal. fhis is 101 sale nt £5 pur aCte, in farms of
:WO acres, 01 ill 0110 10(. at .£.~ per ncrc.
Pcople crnigl11ting shoult! inspect tho Register, nt which plnce cnn
be obtained the m09L Ilseful illfolmntion, as well ns It letter of inlrotluc­
to Gcolge Fuller & Co., Ihe ngricII!I.IIlJll nnctionccls, James st.reet,
lbmi. oll, find Rt.l~omain Buildings, King stroet., TOlonlu,
Persons will find it most dc~jrnblc not 1(1 settle until nftel nn juter­
view.with lUI. George Fullel, eitllel ot Toronto 01 JIlimiiton,
Moneys received from, AJld traIlBDlitted to. Engla.nd, Ireland & Scotland.
GEO. FULLER & 00.,
Ag .. icnlln .. al Auctioneers 110( Land flluers,
W)1O nrc the lD1port(~ of TIIOP. •. t:l·~ r;.IT1Ll: rou!!, lIml DoII …. s FAnlt£ll.S FnrE:-lD, [I pre·
·cn(nin~ 10 ::ill.ut ill WII An 1859 advertisement in an English publication
for would-be settlers in Canada and the
United States. Similar ads appeared in German
publications and were read by those who emigrated
from the old country
abowd the Neckar.
The British-American Guide Book, 1859.
that night at Richmond, Quebec, the
divisional point
153 km up the line.
conductor, two brakesmen, an
engineer and a fireman would be
required at Richmond.
About 500 emigrants [sic] will
leave here by special about 3
p.m. 4
McBean telegraphed Bailey in Point
St. Charles around one that afternoon.
Bailey first decided that the
special would follow the night freight
train from the east after it
arrived in
Richmond that evening. He asked S.P.
Dean, Train Despatcher at
Point St.
to arrange for this special at
Richmond to follow No. 16 freight
white signal.5 When a locomotive
change was made at Richmond, the
substitute engine would carry
flags. This would indicate to railway
employees that the special was
running to Montreal behind the freight
with no further orders required for its
Dean telegraphed F. Sadlier, a
conductor at Richmond, asking
if he
could take the train. Sadlier replied
asking if Conductor Tom Finn
could go in his place. Dean
telegraphed Finn and asked if he could
take charge of the train that evening.

Big Tom, as Finn was known, was
available. He was given the
assignment. Some of his fellow
conductors thought he was not
competent and … some serious
accident would some day be the
Brydges is responsible·for his
employees treating certain people like result.6
Tonight he would be in charge of the Immigrant
cattle. Tonight he will be awakened around two in the morning
with very embarrassing news
of the fate of one of his trains.
ThatTuesday morning at Point Levi, A.S. McBean, local
Superintendent of Traffic, received an urgent message from
Anthony Jorgensen, the
Government Immigration Interpreter
who had been assisting the passengers from the
Neckar. He
requested that a train be made up immediately to move the
out of the sheds because two steamships carrying more
immigrants were due to arrive that day, and more ships were
McBean had a problem; three days earlier, the last
the second class cars at Point Levi had been sent west on another
train carrying immigrants.
There was, however, no need to
telegraph Headquarters about the matter. He ordered the
carpenters to begin installing mova
ble seats in five box cars
from the yard and assigned foui more freight cars to carry
trunks, bags and belongings
of the immigrants.
then had to alert Henry Bailey, Superintendent
of Traffic for the Eastern District at Headquarters in Point St.
Charles, about this special so Bailey could make arrangements
to relieve the Point Levi crew when they arrived with the train Like
McBean, Finn too had a problem. His job was
now to find a crew. A regular freight train
of a dozen cars
required the
Conductor to have two brakesmen working under
him. Their job was to ride atop the train and, when signalled
by the engineer with two short blasts of the whistle, to apply
the brakes (by turning a wheel on the roof at the end of each
freight car). But that day at Richmond only one brakesman
was available for duty that evening, Gedeon Giroux, from Point
St. Charles. He was expecting
to work on a freight train to the
t. Finn found him and told him he would be working the
special train
instead. Giroux asked who would be working with
When Finn said he would be working alone, Giroux
objected. Get another brakesman or he would refuse to work
the train. Finn told him he would ask the Company to send a
brakesman from Montreal to assist him. Giroux reluctantly
accepted the assignment on the special.
That afternoon, a little after one, Thomas King,
Locomotive Foreman at Richmond, got a telegraph message
from S.P. Dean, requesting him to have an engine ready to follow
Train No. 16.
Kings task was to assign a crew. He too had a
A view of the docks and terminal at Point Levi about 1864. In the background is Quebec City and the Citadel. In the left fa reg rorl/1d
is a train of the infamous immigrant cars; clearly just boxcars with windows cut in the sides. What a contras/ to the regular coach.
with an early cleres/ory roof, seen on the adjacent track. This is one
of the few photos extant that show the inunigran/ cars. It is from
a stereo view published C.R. Proctor
of Salem, Massachuselts. National Archives of Canada, photo No. PA-143770.
problem. His regular engineers Martin Wakefield and William
Haggert had both asked for the night off (the circus was in town).
was only one person around who could take the Special.
went out to talk to him.
William Burnie, 26, was the engineer on Engine No.
the Pilot Engine) as they calJed the spare locomotive
used to assist long trains on the grades between Richmond and
Acton, 35 km away. No. 168 was named
Ham one of a trio,
Ham, Shem and Japheth (named after the sons of Noah
in the Biblical book of Genesis), built by Daniel Gunns
Hamilton Locomotive Works in April, 1857. William Burnie
had only been an engineer for 10 days. Before that he had
served for two years as the Fireman on the Pilot Engine and
before that he had been an engine cleaner and a night
at the locomotive shop at Richmond. Three days earlier Burnie had almost been assigned
the other Immigrant Special that had come through. On or
about the 25th of June last, he wrote, I was notified by Thomas
locomotive foreman, at Richmond, that I would be
required to run a special train, loaded with immigrants, the
of which was immediately expected from Quebec, and
that I should take charge … at
Richmond and then run it to
Montreal. I thereupon protested against doing so, as I did not
know the road, and was answered by King that he could not
help it, as he had no other one to send. In the meantime Engine
No. 145,
of which W. Miller was the driver, arrived from
Sherbrooke, and I was relieved from taking charge
of the train
in question, Miller having been substituted for me.8
This time there was no alternative: On the 28th day of
.. June, I was again notified by King that an Immigrant train
It was chaos. Five cars for so
many passengers? How were they all
supposed to fit into so little space?
There were not enough cars for
all the
people, so another box car was
The passengers still waiting on
the platform had to watch the carpenters
finish installing the benches before they
get in. Shoemaker Wilhelm Kehler
got aboard the last car: A cattle car he
called it,
I saw sawdust on the bottom of
the car. On the sides were benches …
through the centre was another row of
benches supported by uprights.o Was
how they were to travel all the way to
the United State
Then another car was shunted on
to the train. This
one was a passenger
car, with seats and windows. A crush
people tried to get aboard this car. Soon
the whole
car was filled and there were
people standing. Better to stand in a
passenger car than sit in a box car.
Henry Bailey, Superintendent of Traffic for the Eastern District, is shown standing second
from the left in this photograph
of Grand Trunk Railway officials. Others in the picture,
from left to right, are James Haroman, Auditor, Walter Shanley, Managel; Myles
Pennington, General Freight Manager.
It was Bailey who made arrangements for the
of the Immigrant Special to travel west from Point Levi on June 28, 1864.
Finally an open-ended car, the
brakesvan, [caboose] was placed at the
of the train. The car was small but
had two very powerful brakes. The
conductor rode in it. Today he would have
company -20 passengers crowded into
it. It was against
company rules, but what
Conductor Joseph White do? No
one inside it spoke English or French.
Thedore Hermann Goring and his
parents sat inside one
of the baking freight
through the heat of the afternoon.
Finally, around three-thirty; a railway
worker came and locked the door made
National Archives of Canada, photo No. PA-200522.
would arrive on the evening of that day at Richmond and that I
must Tun it from there to Montreal taking with me for this
purpose the Pilot Engine. Finding that I must either go as
directed or lose my situation, I did not offer any further
remonstrance; but told King, upon receiving his orders, that the
of the Pilot Engine should be examined before leaving
as they were in bad order. King told me
to put the engine upon
the pit and get her examined. I proceeded to the workshop at
Richmond for this purpose, but found that all the hands
there had left, as T understood, for the puipose of seeing a circus
performance which was then going on at Richmond, and in
consequence, the examinations of the pistons did not take
That hot June afternoon word spread in the Immigrant
Shed at Point Levi that everyone who had tickets should bring
goods and baggage to the end of the outside platform.
Their train was backing in.
Schoolmaster William Cordes had only his clothes and
his books to carry. Families like the Gorings, Prewinas and
Kouchals had much more. From the platform they watched a
of freight cars roll to a stop. The first four cars were for
baggage, they were told. The other five were for passengers.
of iron bars spaced about 12 cm apart. He left the wooden door
on the other side
of the car slightly open. Then with a jolt, the
train began to move on its fateful journey.
Lot of Germans left special 3:40 pm, A.S. McBean
telegaphed to Henry Bailey that afternoon.
15 to New York
via St. Lamberts,
19 to Montreal, 20 for Central district, 21
beyond Toronto, 384 beyond Sarnia. A total of 459 people.
For the people packed in the train it was a long, slow
trip. They trundled slowly along at freight train speed, 36 kph.
The people were unhappy. They complained of being
overcrowded and they had no room.12 said Wilhelm Kehler.
Every hour or so the locomotive stopped at stations for
fuel and water and from time to time pulled on to a siding to
wait for other trains to go by.
At these stops, Conductor White
unlocked the doors
of the freight cars and his brakes men handed
several buckets
of water up into each car.
The minute the doors were opened, many of the men
inside forced their way
out of the cars and took advantage of
the opportunity to relieve themselves beside the tracks. The
women and children were not so fortunate. The drop from the
of the cars to the ground was too high for them to manage;
ABOVE: The station, which also served as the immigrant shed, at Point Levi about 1860. This is where the passengers from the
Neckar spent the night, and part
of the next day, awaiting the train to take them west. The cars on the extreme left are ver), early
GTR coaches, but offering
far better accommodation than the immigrant cars. The coach added to the train was likely of this type.
National Archives
of Canada, photo No. PA -165571.
BELOW A drawing of the Eastern Section of the GTR showing the route of the Immigrant Special.
John Thompson.
Otz.IA~;~re [51: ~e,kth:.<. Cr,v,.j> ,o~ r%. EhuIIl-~-La,zen]
BI.tJ< ~v4 [s:, }.37Y,tJ
l~t …. ~>tJ
~ TfUt1k ~~~ ef CwUa..
&$1-«, ,st..ct·lc:PIV
hie: l— -.. 16~ [~–~ rlol.C.l1~ J
.——.-, . ..-~—… -._—–
-. .,
.. .
i.1I ~ .
ABOVE: Richmond station, Canada East, where the Immigrant Special arrived at 9:02 in the evening of June 28, 1864.
National Archives of Canada, photo No. PA-200514.
The interior
of a crowded coach during an overnight trip in the
I 860s. This was elegant compared
to the Immigrant Special.
The coach in the illustration has an early clerestory roof
light and ventilation, and some of the passengers are occupying
a double seat.
No such luxwy was available on the train in our
story; th
ere eve/Jone was crowded into far more spartan space.
they were compelled to procure relief as best they might in
the sitting or standing positions which they occupied in these
over-filled cars, to the setting aside
of common decency and to
the disgust
of themselves and their fellow passengers.I)
Meanwhile, up the line at Richmond, Engineer William
Burnie went to the engine house after suppe
r. White flags were
on the front
of the 168. His fireman, Nicholas Flynn, was firing
up the boiler, getting up steam for the nights run. Until
days ago, Flynn had been the boy who cleaned the locomotives
in the shop. He had been appointed fireman when Burnie
became an Engineer, and he had never been over the road to
in the cab of an engine. Burnies boss, Mr. King, was not around; he was at the
Burnie -worried that he did not know the road beyond
Acton, 20 miles away -talked to William
Ames, the night
watchman, about his predicament. Ames loaned
him a copy of
the timetable so at least he would know the names of the stations
along the route and the distances between them.
At 9:02 p.m., five and a half hours after leaving Point
Levi, the Special arrived
in Richmond. The Quebec brakesman
uncoupled the engine and tender from the first box car and
signalled for the engineer to
move off tQ the engine house. The
other brakes mall be~an unlocking the doors of the freight cars
and people began jumping out. A freight train full
of people
Burnie, Flynn and brakesman Giroux, watching from the 168,
had never seen this before.
Burnie backed his engine on to the Special and Giroux
attached the locomotive to the train. Giroux was working under
He was still the only brakesman on a l2-car train that
should have had two assigned. Conductor Finn had assured
him that the company was sending another brakesman from
Point St. Charles, but he would not join the train until they got
to St. Hyacinthe.
In fact, there was no possibility
of another brakesman
joining them, and Conductor Tom Finn, climbing aboard the
brakesvan at the end
of the train, knew it. The Company could
not get another man to him
in time. He had to fool Giroux into
Finns orders were to wait until Train Number 9, a
passenger train from the east, had come tluough, then follow
Train Number
16, a freight, also from the east, to Montreal
under white signal.
Burnie sat with Fireman Flynn
in the cab or his engine
until the two other westbound trains had left. At 10:05 p.m.
Conductor Finn gave them the signal to depart.
Off into the
night headed wheezy
168 and the Immigrant Special.
A drawing by Omer Lavallee, of No. 168 as she appeared at the time of the disastel:
It was not pleasant in the box cars after the sunset. There
were no lamps and the wind blew
in through the metal bars of
the door. We complained of the heat of the day and the cold
during the night.15 said shoemaker Willhelm Kehler.
The train arrived at Acton around 11 oclock. The 168
was losing steam, so Burnie drew up to the water tank and
replenished the water supply
in the tender. He then moved up
to the woodpile and Brakesman Giroux and the Woodman threw
firewood into the tender. After they bad finished, Burnie shouted
down to Giroux and asked him to climb into the cab. There he
asked Giroux if he knew the road to Montreal. Giroux said he
did. Burnie asked him if be would stay on the engine to show
him where the up and down grades were, because he did not
know the road. Giroux looked at the young fireman; did
he not
know the road? No, Nicholas Flynn told him over the hiss
the engine, only the way to Quebec.
It was against Company rules for a brakesman to ride
on the
locomotive; Gedeon Giroux had never ridden on a
locomotive over the line. He looked at the two young men
front of him. Tonight he would have to.
The passengers in the cars waited for the doors to open
at this stop
in the darkness. They did not open. We got no
more water, said Wilhelm Kehler. With a jolt, the train set
again. There was talk afforcing the Company to provide proper
cars when they reached Montreal.
Around midnight, about a mile before reaching St.
Hyacinthe, Burnie was going a little too fast to be able to stop
the train at the water tank, so Giroux
jumped up to the top of
the freight cars and put on the brakes of ten of the cars. This
slowed down the train enough for Burnie to stop light at the
It took only a few minutes to water the engine. Burnie
The Grenville of the Carillon & Grenville Railway was
similar to GTR 168, but slightly smal/a Also buill by Dan
of Hamilton in the 1850s, it was in service until 19/0.
Here we see it about 1900.
Argenteuil County Historical Society Museum, Carillion, Que.
of the authOl:
ABOVE: The Grand Trunk had a medal, known as the Trevithick
Medal which was presented to locomotive engineers for
General Efficiency and Good Conduct during the year. In
1861 William Haggart was a recipient of that medal. He was
of two engineers who took the night nms west of Richmond,
and under normal circumstances might well have driven No
168, in which case the disaster would not have happened. That
fateful night, however he was
off duty, at the circus.
Canadian Coin Cabinet
by Joseph LeRoux, 1888.
BELOW: The actual medal awarded to William Haggart in
861. It is of silvel; 1.8 inches in diameter. On the edge is the
modified it by soldering a pin to the head side so that it could
be worn with the inscription side showing. One wonders
if he
waS wearing it
of! June 28, 1864.
of Fred Angus.
checked the timetable Ames had given him. Only 32 miles more,
perhaps two hours, and the train would be rolling over Victoria
Bridge and
in to Montreal.
No one told Burnie about another bridge ahead. This
the Richelieu river at BeJoeil. It had been built in 1848
part of the St. Lawrence & Atlantic Railway which had
become a component
of the Grand Trunk upon its completion
in 1853. The Beloeil bridge was
of tubular construction, much
like Victoria Bridge, except the track was on top
of the tubes
of inside them. In addition, it had a swing span at the
Beloeil side
of the river to allow boats to pass through on the
way to and from Lake Champlain. The Montreal Gazette had
described it thusly in an article on December 29, 1848, reporting
on the opening
of the St. L & A to St. Hyacinthe:
Here the great engineering difficult) of the route is got
rid of, by a stupendous bridge, or viaduct twelve hundred
in length, with an elevation of upwards of fifty feet from the
riVe!: The engine which had hitherto proceeded at the rate of
about thirty miles an hour, somewhat slackened its speed in
crossing the bridge.
To those who plead guilty to nerves, the
of this temporary suspension in mid air may be somewhat
but from carefully noticing the effect of the passage
of the cars, we are satisfied that there does not exist the slightest
for apprehension; we could not detect any perceptible
or vibration, and the entire structure seemed as firm
as a rock. This bridge was erected at a cost of 22,000 pounds
{$88,000j, and is considered to be one of the best, if not the
very best, constructed bridges
on this continent.
By the time Burnie checked his timetable it was past
midnight and a new day had begun -June 29, 1864 -a day that
was destined to be remembered with horror for many years to
The next station was St. Hilaire, 13 miles [20 kmJ away,
then Beloeil, a flagstop a mile after that. Giroux got back in
the cab, unhappy. Sl. Hyacinthe was where another brakesman
was supposed to join the train,
the Conductor had told him. No .
brakesman was waiting. Burnie pulled the throttle and they
were underway again.
Riding on the brakesvan
at the rear of the train with two
dozen immigrants sharing his space, against
company rules,
Conductor Finn noticed that the red signal light on the back
the van had gone out. It was also against the rules to run without
the red warning light. A train following them could not
them and could crash into them should they be forced to stop
along the way unexpectedly. It was the
job of the brakesman to
trim the lamp.
When they reached the next stop, Finn would
find Giroux.
At Beloeil, two stations up the track, around twelve­
thirty that morning, Nicholas Griffin, Assistant Bridge tender
at the swing bridge over the Richelieu River, watched Train
No. 16, the last train
of the night, or so he thought, roll past.
Twenty five minutes later,
at about five to one, he heard the
of the steamboat Champlain in the river below signalling
him to open the swing bridge.
The ship was towing a number
of barges with high masts up the river to Lake Champlain, and
the movable span h
ad to be open for them to get past the bridge.
Griffin walked with
his lantern out on the bridge to the crank
which operated the swing span. Two minutes of lUming it swung
the span around enough for the masts
of the barges to pass
Bumie pulled up to the water tank at Sl. Hilaire at 1:05
a.m. Woodman Benjamin Valiquette jumped on to
the tender
and directed the waterspout into the hole in the tank.
Agent Thomas Valiquette came out of his station
and walked to the locomotive.
He saw the white flags on the
engine and knew
he had no need to give it any train orders;
still, it was his duty to warn the driver that there was a train on
the track 35 minutes ahead of him. Beware. Burnie
acknowledged the message.

The track layout in the vicinity of the Beloeil Bridge as it was at the lime of the disasln
Drawing by John Thompson.
Valiquette did not warn Burnie about the swing bridge.
There was no telegraph communication between the bridgeman
and the St. Hilaire station agent.
No one on the St. Hilaire side
of the river knew that the bridge was open.
Walking back
to his station, Valiquette heard voices and
coughing inside the box cars.
He realized that this was a freight
train full
of people.
The passengers inside the cars were thirsty, stiff, cold
and exhausted. Those who were
awake heard the Station Agent
walk by, and then another set
of steps from the rear of the train.
But no one unlocked the doors to give them water and relief.
Benjamin Valiquette shut
off the water, jammed the cap
back on the tank, then jumped down and started throwing wood
on to the pile in the tender. Just then, Conductor Finn arrived at
the woodpile and gave him some help. This was the brakesmans
job. Where was Giroux? When they had finished wooding up,
Finn went
to look for the brakesman. He found him in the cab
of the locomotive.
Giroux explained that the engineer did not know the
road and had asked him to ride with him. Finn told Giroux the
signal light on the van had gone out. He wanted him to go back
and trim the wick. He would take his place on the engine.
The next stretch of track was one of the most
complicated on the line and there would be nobody minding
the brakes.
In front ofBumie as he looked out was a crossroad.
Beyond it the track sloped downward somewhat. On the right were some trees. At the bottom
of the grade there was another
crossroad and a 90 degree turn. Then the swing bridge. Here
Rule 24 of the Grand Trunk Railway stated that the engineer
should bring his locomotive to a stop, check the signal on the
Beloeil station house, down the track somewhat on the
side of the Richelieu River, and, if it is not red, to proceed across
the bridge. In fact, few trains ever came
to a stop any more
before entering the bridge. Engineers
just slowed down before
heading on to the swing bridge, Finn did not even mention it to
Burnie as they set off down the track.
The events that took place during the next few moments
are best described in Burnies words: I think it was about
twenty minutes past one oclock a.m when we left St. Hilaire
just as we were getting on to the bridge over the Richelieu
River at Beloeil, I looked along the train [mistake] to see
how it
was coming round the curve which
is met with immediately
before entering the bridge. In an instant after this I
saw the
danger signal which appeared to
me on that side of the bridge
me, I whistled at once, without a moments delay for
the brakes to be put on. I used every effort
in my power to
reverse the
engine and to stop the train …. The brake on the
tender was broken and entirely useless …. The moment, however,
that the Conductor saw the danger signal, without saying a word,
jumped from the engine to the tender and thence to the top
the first car. … 16
Conductor Finn did not stop to put on the brakes, but
kept on running back towards the end
of the train,
An artists conception of the last terrifying seconds as engine 168 and its train approached the open drawbridge.
Looms Mont St. Hilaire. Canadas worst train wreck was about to happen.
Meanwhile, at the bridge, Nicholas Griffin watched as
the tug and barges passed upriver.
Suddenly he thought he
heard a train start up at St. Hilaire.
No, he thought, this
cant be, the last train has already gone by. Very soon, however,
there was no doubt; a train was
coming around the curve leading
to the bridge. Griffin had a
moment of panic as his first thought
was that the signal light had gone out. To make certain, he ran
out and checked the lamp
mounted on the side of the swing
span. A quick glance showed that it was all right, shining its
red danger signal across the open gap. By now the noise
of the
train had turned to a loud rumble; it was
on the tubular span of
the bridge, and it was not stopping. Griffin grabbed a red lantem,
out on the track and waved it madly. Stop, for heavens
STOP It was no use, the train came on, and suddenly
there was loud whistling for brakes.
Then sparks flew from the
driving wheels as the engine was reversed,
in a futile attempt to
stop. On came the train, until the
engine reached the gap and
fell in on top
of a barge that was passing. Then, one by one, all
the cars
feU in with a deafening noise, and the real horror became evident.
This was a passenger train, and among the splintered
were hundreds of people. It was a sight thal Griffin
remember the rest of his life.
Inside the van, Brakesman Giroux heard the whistle
as he finished trimming the lamp. He looked up, saw thal they
were already on the bridge and were going too fast to
even if he could reach the brakes through the crowd of people
in the car. He knew who was on the engine. He ran out the
door, heard the crashing
of the train falling, and had only time
Burnie: No brakes were applied as they should have
been, I however, stuck with my engine and wenl down with her
when she fell from the bridge into the Richelieu River owing to
Swing bridge being open.J7
Although Burnie had reversed the engine, it
was too
The train was not going very fast, but the sheer momentum
of all the cars pushed the engine over the edge. Then the cars
tumbled in until the entire train was in the river.
Little Theodore Hermann Goring died. So did his
mother, Magdelena.
Johann Prewinas wife was killed.
Anna Klockotsnich lost her husband and her little
The Frohlecke
s baby was crushed to death.
Franz Kuchal and his wife lost their year-old child.
Ludgewigs wife and child both died.
Fireman Nicholas Flynn went down with the engine
and was killed.
Conductor Tom Finns body was the last to be found.
An extra large coffin had to be ordered for him.
Ninety-nine people died. It is still
[1999J the worst
railway accident
in Canadian history. It is a record which we
all sincerely hope will never be broken.
But hundreds lived.
They plunged off a swing bridge
in the middle of the night, aboard crowded and locked freight
cars, and survived.
Shoemaker Kehler lived. His wife broke
her wrist.
Wilhelm Guttner and Johanna Larsen had broken arms.
William Cordes lost his clothes and his
books but escaped unhurt. Later that summer,
in Montreal, he
and Johanna Larsen were engaged to be marrie
Wilhelm Noester and his family spent some time in the
Montreal General Hospital. After their release in August, they
decided to settle in the German settlement
in the Ottawa Valley,
of moving to Wisconsin as they had planned.
Brakesman Giroux also lived. He caught hold
of a chain
on the bridge as the van tipped over the edge, swung for minutes
over the river below, then managed to scramble back on to the
of the bridge.
William Burnie was in the engine when it went down.
It hit the third barge in the river below, filled with oats, which
cushioned the plunge. The locomotive plowed into the sand
the riverbed and Burnie somehow managed to come up from
the bottom
of the river. Louis L Aventure, Captain of the barge
St. Louis, pulled him, struggling, from the water.
362 people survived. It is as big a miracle as it
is a
The crews of the barges are the heroes here. They
saved many from drowning and, with their axes, broke open
the wooden freight cars and saved many more from suffocating.
Help was on the spot.
Help was also on the way from other sources. First to
of the accident were the local residents of Beloeil, many
of whom had been awakened from deep sleep by the thunderous
ound of the crash. In a very short time they made their homes
available for the care
of the rescued passengers. Very quickly
the news was telegraphed to Montreal, and emergency plans
were made.
The Grand Trunk made immediate arrangements
dispatch a special train with emergency supplies and a
medical team headed
by doctors Scott, Howard and Hingston.
One Montreal doctor recalled years later that he was awakened,
very early in the morning, by a loud knocking on his door.
Answering, he was told Theres been a terrible train wreck,
can you come?. In minutes, he and others were ready and
re daylight were on the way to Beloeil.
William Burnie grabs the lever with both hands while Nicholas
FlYll1l pulls on. the whistle cord, and the communication bell
cord (which did not actually exist)
in. this somewhat fanciful
of the scene in the cab of No. 168 at the moment it
off the bridge.
In this era before the days of radio, television or
telephone, it is remarkable how quickly the news spread through
Montreal. Telegraph messages soon reached the city and, despite
the early hour, word spread, largely by word
of mouth. The
morning newspapers got out extras, and the evening papers had
lengthy accounts, some written by their reporters on the spot.
in that year of 1864, were used to hearing
of horrors. Only a few hundred miles away a terrible
bitter war was being fought between the North and South
in the
ed States, and casualties were very heavy. Names like The
Wilderness and Spotsylvania were current news, as the papers
were full
of the campaigns of generals Grant, Lee and Sherman.
During the previous two decades there had been several
steamboat wrecks on the St. Lawrence which had claimed more
lives than the Beloeil disaster.
But the news from Beloeil was
different. This was not news from a distant battlefield, or
of a
shipwreck far down the river. This was something almost on
the doorstep
of Montreal, and the response was immediate. More
help was needed
fast and more help was coming.
This photo
oj the wreckage is one oj three taken soon after the accident. probably on June 29. It differs from the photo on the cover
in that it is ;/1 horizontal Jormat and there is no train crossing the bridge. The brake van, the last to Jail, is scarcely damaged at all.
National Archives
of Canada, photo No. C-3285.
Close on the heels of the Grand Trunk relief train, others
were soon on the way. Among the passenge
rs were Montreal
Mayor Beaudry, Judge Coursol and officers of the German
Society. As quick as possible, survivors were brought to
Montreal and,
if injured, were taken to the Montreal General
or the Hotel Dietl. By 4:00 P.M., only fifteen hours
after the wreck, all the survivors had arrived in Montreal.
Work continued for days removing wreckage and
recovering the bodies of the victims. The later were laid out in
a shed for identification. The final death toll is still in doubt, as
different accounts vary. One contemporary accounl says thaI
there were 89 victims, bul it
is now believed that 97 passengers
died, plus conductor Finn and fireman Flynn, a total
of 99.
Of course. as is always the case at such times, the disaster
attracted curiosity seekers who came, not
to help in the rescue
efforts, but to see the spectacle. Five weeks later,
on August 3,
a spectator
became the I OOth victim when he leaned from a
passing train and struck against upright bar
of bridge.
By August, however, the wreckage had be
en removed
and repairs made.
The physical remains of the wreck were gone,
now the proceedings moved into the corporate offices and
the courtrooms.
The newspapers, of course, avidly followed
the story which was extensively reported. William Burnie was made a scapegoat for what was, in
effect, the fault
of the whole system. Because he was wearing
dry clothes when first seen by manager Brydges, he was accused
of jumping off the engine before it even reached the bridge.
This was soon proved to be false (he had changed clothes after
the wreck),
but the GTR still blamed him for the disaster.
AtTested, and found guilty
of gross carelessness by a coroners
jury, Burnie was charged with manslaughter.
He was in jail
until October when cooler heads prevailed and he was released.
Thirty years later he was
still pointed out as the engineer of
the Beloeil Bridge Disaster. Perhaps he too should be
considered as a victim, for his life was ruined.
Verbatim accounts of the testimony heard by the
Coroners Jury investigating the accident between 30 June and
13 July 1864 were published in The Gazelfe and the Montreal
during this period. These form the basis of this narrative.
The Witness published reports of sessions of the
Committee for Adjudicating the Claims of German Immigrants
at the Montreal General Hospital,
20 -28 July 1864. These
contain much useful information about the passengers.
In an article
The Burnie Habeas Corpus, (Witness 27
July 1864, see appendix), William
Burnies sworn account of
his role in the accident was published in full.
This detailed woodcul was published in the illustrated London News in England during the summer of 1864. It is taken from the
upstream (south) side, and shows some
of the other cars, as well as (he swing bridge. However there is some artistic licence.
Finally, on 8 October 1864 the Witness carried a story
entitled Presentment
of the Grand Jury (also reproduced as
an appendix).
No bill of indictment was found against William
Burnie, accused
of manslaughter and he was freed from prison
where he had been held since 29 June. The Grand Trunk
Company of Canada, the Grand Jury concluded, are mainly
responsible and
to blame for this melancholy catastrophe.
of this disaster spread far and wide. One person
who read it was George Westinghouse, who was, even then,
thinking about stopping trains more quickly that the inefficient
of decorating the tops of the cars. Five years later
( 869), he patented the first air brake which has saved countless
lives, and would likely have prevented the 1864 disaster
if it
had been in existence and
in use on the Immigrant Special.
C.J. Brydges remained general manager
of the Grand
Trunk until 1874.
He then became one of the commissioners
of the Intercolonial Railway, and still later a land commissioner
for the
Hudsons Bay Company. He died in Winnipeg on
February 16, 1889. There is no record that his career was
damaged by the events
of June 29, 1864.
The story of the Beloeil Bridge Disaster was
remembered for many years. Cel1ainly the survivors would have
vivid memories as long as they lived, and undoubtedly passed
on their recollections to their children and grandchildren. As
railway historian Omer Lavallee aptly put
it Around many a
Canadian fireside, for countless years afterward, survivors
the luckless immigrant train would recall in harrowing detail
the pathetic tragedy and human suffering which make up the story
of one of Canadas must spectacular railway accidents –
and certainly its worst -the Beloeil Bridge Disaster.
As the years and decades passed, however, the story
became more and more forgotten, and even entered the realm
of folklore. Finally there was no one left who remembered it
first hand. Unlike some disasters which are still clearly recalled,
this one did not involve a famous first-class train, nor were there
any well-known personalities aboard. Most histories
of the
period, even railway histories, do not mention it, and. to the
of our knowledge, no one ever wrote a song about it.
Undoubtedly there are many people living
in Canada
and the United States whose ancestors
came to America on
board the
Neckar, and who survi ved the wreck at Beloeil. Some
of these descendants may not even know of the ordeal their
ancestors passed through. but others no doubt do, and among
these people the story will likely always be kept alive.
Today at Beloeil there is a much newer and larger bridge,
but on the same site as the old
swing bridge. There is no
monument or historical plaque to mark the spot, and the story
is known mostly by only a few railway historian
s. All the
Montreal -Quebec City passenger trains go that way. as does
the Ocean and the Chaleur. Anyone who knows the story
must feel some emotion as he passes, safely and quickly, by
that fatal spot. Although other accidents to ships and aircraft
have had many more fatalities, never again has a Canadian train
wreck claimed as
mallY lives as at Beloeil. One cannot help but
of all those who perished there early in the morning of
June 29 1864 -one hundred and thirty five years ago.

HE 29 TIl. OF JUN! 1864
BY ruE
THIS R~;~c~g:I~;rlfs~~~~~~ STONE
. N
TilE GbRMA -N (985 Hyl
$ 1i0 til ANNIVER~A
TilE ytAR Of II. …•.
The end of the line for so many dreams. The German Society
of Montreal arranged for the burial of the victims according to
their religion. 52 were interred in Mount Royal (Protestant)
CemetelY, and
45 in Cote des Neiges (Catholic). The sandstone
monument erected
in Mount Royal in 1864 stoodfor 121 years,
but became very badly deteriorated
In 1985 the German Society
replaced it with a beautiful replica
of pink granite. The photo
above, taken
in 1999, shows the replica. Photo by FredAngus
1. Montreal Witness, 30 July 1864
3. The Gazelte (Montreal), 9 July 1864 citing testimony of
C.J. Brydges before the Coroners Jury, 7 July 1864
4. Ibid., Testimony
of Henry Bailey before the Coroners Jury,
7 July 1864
5. Ibid.
6. M011lreal Wi/ness, 30 July 1864, citing letter from several
of the oldest and most experienced conductors whose names we
are given.
7. The Gazelle, 6 July 1864 citing testimony of Thomas King
before the Coroners Jur
y, 5 July 1864. Locomotive 168 was a
Canadian-built. engine made by Dan C. Gunns Hamilton
Locomotive Norks of Hamilton, Canada West in April, 1857.
8. Man/real Wilness, 27 July 1864, The Burnie Habeas
Corpus, citing sworn deposition made by William Burnie before
104 JUILLET -AOUT 1999
UHN of tho Aecidcllts (uid Casualties TI llich h
pli:IIlCO witll tho provisions of the Accidcn ts on
_ .. … … _. ..

I.iulo (i if o. on(l
NClruo of Nn
llllt~. Pay o !l,·s~ripli11 of
.light. tmill . Conduclor. 11:ngi
__ • ___ .. ___ -H._ __ ___ ~ __ I. ___ ~— __ —
lSIH I I I i
JUIlO 2U .. l.:lO:.lU Emigrani :pccil.· 1:. Sinn …………….. W. Hirni
—-.-….. —..—.,.–
BWClfll II) by J.Ilu,rM WJ!.r,I.~[ \001), Seercbry of tho Orllcl Trnt1k nn
nt ;Ilontrcnl, thi3 2·11lt, A.D. lSGI.
On this and the following six pages are some articles
and documents pertaining to the disaster. The newspaper
accounts are from the Montreal Wi/ness, a paper that is not as
frequently consulted these days, but whose coverage was as
good as the larger dailys, or better. Of special note is the
complete transcription of Burnies testimony in the article
entitled The Burnie Habeas Corpus. Yet more significant is
scathing denunciation of the Grand Trunk managers in the

Presentment of the Grand Jury, at which time (October, 1864)

no bill was found against William Burnie and he was set free.
Despite this, the Grand Trunk decided to use the result of the
inquest when it made its official half-yearly summary­
of-accidents report to the government on November 24, 1864.
That report, which puts all the blame on Burnie, is printed above.
Note that it contains several errors, besides the obvious (and
intentional) one of assigning the blame to the wrong person.
Immigrant is spelled emigrant, conductor T. Finn is spelled
P. Sinn and S. Pinn, Burnie is spelled Birnie, and the
number of passengers killed is shown as 88 instead of 97.
AJJ these extracts are in facsimile, slightly enlarged for
but otherwise exactly as they appeared in 1864.
Judge Alywin seeking release from prison on bail
to await his
trial. Petition refused by Judge Alywin.
9. Ibid.
10. The Gazelle, II July 1864 citing testimony of Wilhelm
hler before the Coroners Jury
11. Ibid., 9 July 1864 citing testimony
of Henry Bailey before
the Coroners Jur
y, 7 July 1864
12. Ibid.
13. Man/real Witness, 8 October 1864 citing presentment of
the Grand Jury bringing in no bill against William Burnie, who
was freed from prison, 5 October 1864.
14. Ibid
., 27 July 1864 citing Burnies sworn deposition before
Judge Alywin
15. The Gazelte, II July 1864 citing testimony of Wilhelm
Kehler before
the Coroners Jury
16. The Witness, 27 July 1864 citing Burnies sworn testimony
before Judge Alywin
17. Ibid.
{O occurred on tllO Umnd TRUNK RAILWAY, during the haJf-ycal ending 30th June, 1864.-)larlc In r.OID­
nilwnys Act, 20 Victoria, Chapter 12th, Section 14.
;-~f–o .;—i
or dOSOrjptlIr~;-llcLhor l;nturo o~~~ci-r~a;n~~()(:~:1 -. –I~ -., , ~-.
.. ~ Plnoo of ACCidOIlt./ of porson injurod I pas,cngcr, I / I CUll 50 of ,
cLJcnl. CoroocrJ ,crJI~t.
!DHIn. ~ 101 or killed. cluploy6 or dool to person. to Properly. I
>Y olLer
I I I Pion, S …………… ICOudllclor ….. j . . ,·,,1
IGSO I I D ItT 11 I~ Dn·cr(lIsr~ …. :\.d1tt~s1rrOtl.~ )
…………. vO OJI riC .,c … -, yon, ………… Iremnn …… En ; rnr-°1 , I ~ . . 1 J t
I ..
nod eighty-killed ………. (t ou 0 Ilnd HPOl:;:t r,ulc III rognr, l ;–/C:I:I rcr,~.
eight emig-uwng 1 to llcl(Cll bridge .. : ……… )
fauls ………. I
11[ :tny othcr~ mo() or less jnjuror!. , .
-.. ~r—— __
IYOY Compnny of Cnnnda, befQro IllO (Sigoou) T. Y. WOOD, .. • , ,
ScercttlTY of the Elrnnd Trunk Rnl1w~y ol l ;llI:;.
:T, J. r. Cortified, J. G. Y.tXSIT1An~ …
y, 1,.1;11::: f,.);U l.
.&. brief DOtioe or the appUeatioD made b,. IIr.
Dnllll MrOre the BOD. ·lIr. luUce .A;rI.iD
appeared la theee colQmD. Ptenou. SubJoined
wul be tOQnd Jhe depoliUOD of William Burnie tIM
engiDedrrTet to,e&.ber witb otber portion.
of the proceediDgi before Iud,. AylwiD. Xr
DnUD OD maklDg application .ubmlUecI a eopy
of tbe commitmeDt of the corODer to,etber wltb
the followlnl depoeltJoD or Burnie .worD to by
lilia, betore Judge A1hriD.
aouW no.T.
1Iy Dame i. WllIlam Barale, 1 wu born In
Gla.gow, Beotland, 101838 and .accompanled
my mother to.Oanada, wben [WII abJut eight
,eall ot a~e,lioce whlcb time I haTe rulded In
Riobmond. In Nonmber 1856 [ entered the
employment of tbe Grand Trunk Rallw.y Com·
pany o( Oanada, u cleaner of engine., and in
tbis capacity I contioued to act for a period (If
two ,rears or lhereabout j after wbicb I was ap­
poinlea nl6bt watc~maa, a duty wblcb I per­
.1 nearly .. I can remember, tbre~ year.
and 8 half j at tlle nplrltlon or wblcb time 1
was appolotel! fireman upon
a Pilot ROllne, dnd
was almost neluehely engaged In tbll laUer
capacity up to tbe elgbteeolh day
of June 11l8t,
a8slalinr the tralDs bet.eell Acton aDd Durhun
8talions upon tbe Richmond Road. Durlog that
time I WIS paid the wagel o{ a seeond·clus fire·
man. Upoo the 18tb of Juoe lut I was for tbe
fiut time pl.-eed In cbarge or a Pilot Engine,
wblob WILlI employed Iu ulllUng tralD I from
Riohmond to Durham.
On or about tbe 2~th or June last, I WAI notl·
fied by ThomBl KID8, Locomotive fOrfmD, at
Richmond, that 1 would be required to run a
special train, loaded.wltb fmml~ranI8, the arrl·
ot which was immediately e.rpected ftom
Quebec; and tbat I sbould take cbarga of the
said chuge at lllcbmond and tllen run it. to lIoo­
treal. I thereupon
protested against doing 10,
as I did not. know the road, and wu anlwered
by hiDg that he could not belp it, &I he bad no
other ODe to lead. In the mea 11 ti me, BogiDe
No. 146, of whieb
W. Miller WAI driYer, atriYed
from Sberbrooke, and
I wa! relined from talk·
jog charrfl of lbe train in que.tioD, MUler baYing
been lublltltuted for mo. .Afterward .. and 00
the 28tb day of old mODth of June, I WAI again
b1 King tbtan BDligrant trala would
arrive cn the eYeDIng or that dlY at Ricbmond
and t~at I mUit run it (rom thore to Montreal,
taking witb me (or tbla pWpoH tb. PUot Bn­
giDI. FiDdlo, that I mOlt eitber go II direoted, or-lote
~ Iitoallon, I dld not oWer ally (urtb.,
remonatrallCf j bot lold tbe .. Id Kin upon re­
eelyjng bit orden. that tbe pl.lOIlIOf the laid
Pilot BngiDe .boold be examined before leaYlng
AI they were 10 bad oreler. l{lng told me to put
tbe enlloe OD the plt and ge~ her enmlDed.
Tberefore I proceeded to lbe worklbop at Rlob­
mond for tllia purpollt:, but round .bat all tbe
hand. eagagfd tbere bad left, .. I under­atood, for tbe purpole
of leeln, a clrcu.
performaDce wbich AI tben goiog OD at Rich
mond, and in eooaequeDCf, tbe eumlnation of
tbe piatoDB did not take place. About half-pu~
nine oclock in the enDing, tbe emigrant traia
arriYed. Thomas King was Dot thea pre,eDt, be
hawing I underttood, pruloual, gone to tbe
evonlog performaaot of the eiroul. In aceord­
anee willJ orders, I Itn wltb the said train, and
wltb tbe
pilot en gino. The trala conallted 0
elnell or twein CAr, uclolle ot ttt. tender
and euglne. I bad with me, belODgID~ to tbe
Company, ODe coodoctor, one boy, wbo bad bten
• fireman of .eYeD or eilbt day. ezperlenu, bat
who io reality W&I • etc.-aner taken from tbe abop
at Richmond, to act &I fireman for tbl. oeeaelon
and who bad neyer beeD Oler tbe road before 811
firtman, and one brakuman.
Wheo I reach Acton, tbe brake.mab UlroUI
came 00 tbe engine to ahow me the ay, and
BeYeral time. whon I WAI between St Hyaclntbe
and at. lWalre, ( wu obliged to uk him wbere
,e .were. At Bt. Hilaire we took 10 wood and
water, and after a few mluotea started, Before
dOlDg 10, tbe conductor came 00 board tbe eu­
gioe, and Bent Uiroul tbe bratelman to trim the
t ail lamp, luepended from the tnd of the rear
ear, aaying that be wonld remain witll me to
abo … me the w1, and IIYe me locbdlrectlon8
as J needed. I tblnk It wa. aboot twenty minu­
t8 paBt one oclock am., wbeD we left St. Hilaire
and Jost a. we were gettlng OD tbe bridge oyer
the Rlcbelteu ruytr at, Belceil, r looked along tbe
tralD to e bow it wa. coming rooad tbe curn,
wblcb h met with immediately befl)re reacblDI
the brid,e. In an lotant after thit, [ ….. tbe
danKer .igaal wblcb appeared to me to be On
that .ide of tbe bridge oppotite to me. I wbitt.
led at. once, without a moment.. delay for the
brake. to be put on. I ued nery etrort,ln my
power to renr he enllne and to .top the
tratn, and did In ract renrse tbe eDllne, but. un­
fortunately without lacceeding in .torplDg be
1raln. Wben 1 wblilled (or brake. to be put
OD, 1 bave no doubt tbat if tbey bad been applied
.ec~deotwblcb took pl.~woald
Dot ban occurred. Tbe only brakn wblcb could
ban ~n Deed (or tbtl purpose were attac~ed to
tbe rear car, and were hbla tbe reacb of GI­
roux tbe braketman Ollly, wbo did Dot apply tb~m
88 by me eaUed for. Tbe brake on tbe tender of
the engine WII brokeD and eDtlrely oleletl. I
bad t.berefore no llllltaooe reDdered me for t.M
.toppage of tbe Rid tra1:l. Tbe momeDt, bow.
~nr, tba tbe cooductor law the d.n~r Ilgoal,
he, ,,1 bou I&,.lag • word, Jomped from eD­
line to tbe tender, and tbeDCe to tbe top of tbe
firet car witb a view of let tiD, to tb. btuet by ruDulng
onr tbe top ot lb. can, bat be did Dot
IUCCMd, and, tberefore, a. 1 bue al­
ready .tated, no brake. were applied

tbe, .bonld baYe heeD, J, however,
Btook to m,. engiDe and weot dowu witb ber
whea .be Iell from tbe bridge Into tbe Rlcbelleu
ntnr 0 log to tbe ~Ing brld,e belDg open, I
Itruck tbe bottom or tbe Riter aDd WAI rely
burt. 10 the .Ide, tn the I., and cat OD tbe bead
How 1 lloaped or WU NOlled lluiow AQt; bot
I· IOlemnly Iwear tbat. I Wal OD the eng IDe to
tbe lut momen&, and did not jump ot! nor at..
106 JUILLET -AOUT 1999
tempt. to Jump 00. Wben I found myaelr on
,be BeI.11 .Ide of the bridge my cloea were
.. turated whb waler; I was bleeding profately,
aftenrard, had my woot1d dreNed bl a
doctor and obtained. cbanjle of (llo,hIDI.
Of the exJ.ttnce of tbe Dra. bridge I wu
otterlyl,Dorant, aDd 8uppoaed tba it I succeed­
ed in ltopping the train before pauiog tbe
danger II,Dal, that all wonld be rigbt. The
plaoe of danker W&8 bowenr between me aDd
tbe lIiaoal, a fact ot wblch I WAI also entirely!
To the be.t of my reooIJeotioD I weDt onr the
Oale:e before tbe accident III qO~8tiOD. al
firemata, and in sommer. For tbe safety of tbe
train there .bould at least baYe been to brakes­
men. There W&8 but one. There Ibould also
ban been a bell rope uled, but tbere wu none
on tba tralo .. Tbere .bould han been 00 tbe
tender a good brake i tbat whicb W&8 tbere waa
not (oed, on the contrary, it was utterb naelelli.
engine WIB aiiO out or repair. The Ilungel
00 tbe trail 19btol wero worD to a sbarp pOint
wblch made ber DlO~ unmaOlageab13 Bod dan­
geroul. It 1989 mOre difficult to Btop ber lban
(ngines, for leo f(8S0n lhat tbe ItCAm
blew through ber, and did not produce tbe OH
effect that it would otbt-rw!se would i or, 10
other wordl, by tbe blowlog fit tbe steam
throul{h ber the power to check ber speed was
greatll dlmlnisbed. This dcftct was to lbe bad
cODdltlon of l1er picton I. I alsl far tbllt 1
dilJ DoL know of any rule requiring me to .Iop
at the brldr. Ilnd tball neV6r rec!ived HuJ6
Uook from lhe OomplDY or from anI of Itl om·
GUs, The night I left with lhe trln I Lonow ..
ed a time tabl., from tho nlgul watchman, fVlI·
lillm Aimes, at RichmoDd. Whilst I Lillerly
deplore tile 8Ild 1033 of life, tbat hlAd occurred I
slate vositinly tbat I exercised all the skill
aod kDowledge whicb I posseued in tue ma·
nagement of my engine, and thllt wi~b tbe meanl
at my di9POsal, I UBtd every t-lflJrt in my power
t~ .top tbe traiD from tbe Yery mome t lob-
8eneu tbe danger slgnel. And I further Itate
tbat tbe nigbt lief! Ricbmond witb tbe su.ld
train, tbere were two eoglDe driYers, )tarUD
aDd William Hallllart. either of
wbom could han been sent io my place. They
haYe b~n eogine drlnr8 fur foyerat yeare,
wbllit I bad nOl more tban eloyeo day. experi­
eDce In tbat. clpaclty, preTioul to tllo melan­cbolyaccideilt in
Mr. DnllQ begled ~ preHbt 011 behalf of
William Bl1rney now a priloner confined In tbe
common gaot nader tbe warrant. oi tbe Ooroner.
a petition Cor … w .. it of eatHa. earpu. witb tbe objecl.
or obtaining bll rellate upon bail to awal
bls trial. The application he firmly bellned ./al
tunl wamDted bl tbe circuUlstaIJVC8 onll, wblob It waa m
.. de ft. In bls Mr. DeTain, opinion
the nideDce adduced before tbe coroner aDd
wbicb,aflef all could only l.e regarded aa an u~
parte account of tbe sad and melancbolyloSl of
life wblcb occurred disclosed tbe fact tbat Bur·
nle .. guiltlell, of tbe crime Imparted to bim.
Llr, DuliD, carefulll examined tbe teetimony
upon whlcb It W~B sought to bold biB chlnt liable
and be had no hesitation in expreaaing It a. bia
orlnloD tbat tbe 6odlnl( oftbe coronersjullsuch
., IL WBd did not mt-et the exigencies of the easo
and otterll rail. to tbrow tbe f6sronoibllltl of
tbe act upon tbe sboulderB of tbOie who
sbould bf, made to bear tlle burden. Tbe
fact was it oould Icarcely be regarded
as a Verdict and setmed more like ClD u­
COle for the exculpation of goll~ tban tbe
result of a llearcbir.g fnquirl into tbe act. ot
wrong doers, Mr DeYlin tben proceeded to dis­
eues tbe nldence and argued tbat his ollent did
enrltbing in bi8 power to avert tbe catastrophe
tbat bad occurred, and Would bave sucoeeded
bad a lumclent of Braktlsmen been at
tbelr POlito a8 tbel ought to bave been to obey
orden. He a180 dwelt strongly UpOD tbe filet
tbat tbe Eogloe was ou~ or order and cOlJld DOt
be managed wltb the required facllity.Burney be
Bald clung-to bll Engine to tbe,laBt moment and
went down wltb bert tbus sbowing Ibat notwitb­
hndln g the I.mmlnence of tbe danger be 6nar
for an instant desertfd his pOll. It wa! .troe be
was sand but equally certain wall i tbat it Wall
by, no effort of bill that billllarety wal brou~bt
about. UDder all tbe clrcumet,ncell with wblcb
bill Honor wal DOW fllmiliar be Mr DeYlin bop«!d
tbat tbe prayer of tb~ Petition would be granted
aad tbat Burnie would be admitted to ball; and
be bad no hellitatlon in uyiog Lhu wben tbe
day of trial came be would establlib the allega­
tloDI contalDed In bil client. affida.i and proye to
tbe lAt1afactloD of Judr and Jat) tba Wil­
lIaai Barn Ie AI tbl) ,Ictlmaod nottbe criminal.
Ifr. Jobn,oD, Q. 0., in realatiog tbe appU­
catiOQ .ald en,., one mo ot courae feel
deep17 dlatrel8ed at tbe palofuhltoation In wblc~
tbe prisoner .tood ; but tllill coosideratlon mus,
not deter tbem from addrtBlIDg tbemaelns h .. a
maDDer to tbe actual and, legal pOlitloD be
o~cuplfd. Tbat poaitlon was one of a mao un­der
accu,atioD by i Dqui8ition of a coroner, of
,oluntary bomlclde wbelber elJ~cted by an Ilct
or comm 18alon or oIDla.ion mattered Dot. In dul-
101 wltb tbe question of bail, tbe pra·J~lce be
WM differeD ID cuu or bomlcide from tbat
to all olber casel. Homicide waa oeYer billed
except It were In tbe power of tbe prlaouer to make
Ol1t a CAle 01 clear Jaatl6caUoo,
nit learnad friend had allodtd to tbe
criminal conduct of otherl AI lending to sbleld
the pri80ner (rom tbe cODoeqaenCCI of
bla own aot. His, Mr John.oo·s dutl Wat
not to Gbleld crlmlDlls j but to b:ID~ tbem to
aod be should at tbe propu tlme beo pre­
partd to deal witb aHsocb to tbe ~st o( bts
i b:lt at present tby bad merely
coD.ider tbe cue or Burnie blmllelr, and b. coold
not perceive tbat by undertatng a autl wblob
be fQld hib.llelr be waa uD6~ b., uempted bh.,aelf form the
direct relpoDllbility of ba,IDfiS ,0IaD-
tarU, aon. aD act resulting in homicide.
Tbe prooeedlD,1 baYiog been pOltponec1 tanW
Coroner Ibould ,.,1 … the Indenture or Inqohl.
tloa, on Tbursday morniDg at 11 oclock tbe par­tiel again
appeared before Judge Aylwin wheg
be ,a .. the followinlf
llr JoaUce Aylwin said.-Atter the moel c/.
cODslderation bestowed npon all the (acU!
connected with tbifJ application and the finding
of tbe 00roDe~6 Jf1r1 be (elt it to be bis duty to
refule tbe pehtiOD. The cbarge .,aloat tbe pri­
wu a mOlt urloUi oDe; a terrible loes of life bad takell place
aJDlJlt at our nrl door!!!
Qtnl bowenr much the clrcumatancea 80 minutely
detalled ill the vrlaoners affidavit mhrut .. treet
bls punlElbm0Dt {n tbe ev~nt of bll-CO~victioD, b-e
could not now aecept tbat nplanatioD as •
refutation of the crime ofwblcb be 8tood ac(uud.
Be would howner baTe bls day wben the
fullest opportunity would be afforded to him to
J~l before a JurI oC bis country aU the facta and Clrcumatanees
w bleb mlgbt operate In bis fYor.
}jut until that day arrived, Aot now f.rdistant,
be must remain an coafinement. Marh had been
uld of biJ ,IUluIlVIt buL the learned counBtll
wbo represents tbe prl80Der new well that it
cnllot be received 88 e,idr.oce in hill f,Vor
At the alme time ho (lbe JUlJge) ~ollld
not bllp remarKing tbat it VilS well
to Noduce tbataffiduit. It contained
a ve~y clear alld apparently candid history of tbe
entire tranlilction and mOlt certainly di3closed
a mOlt ntraordlnary etate br tblnf:8. llurnle by
hi. own ahowlng!.Utl Dol,knpw tho rOAd he ,IIlould
therorore rather bave forrtllteJ his place than for
tllo sake orkCflll1i It undertllke Lo do that which
ho kllew IrimS(f Incllpllbltl (If doing. flrl. how­
ner WAIl not t lH propor time for tiiSCII89illg his
lillbllity n accollntability IS to tho romarks mado
tl!O 8uppOllCJ crimlnnlit, of otber pBrli(s lie
tb~ Judge would see that U lue proper lime the
ltlw was enCoreId against elvery man who was
wltbln tue jurlddiclion of th:! court aod who
ought to be
mlide t:> answer for his IIbarer in
t~e diatruclion of so manY18luable lives. Petl­
lIOn refused.
LETTER FROM AN OLD OONDUOTOR. jury, that the late Finn was one of the best and
We haTe published in a former number a moat expedenced COllductorson the line. On
eommnnieation from an experienced conductor, the-coIitrary, it w&s the opinion erpresS€d by
who has not long sinoe left the service of the several of the oldest and qlost experienced con-
Grand Trunk (or another position. He show-ductors,w bose names are given,tbat he was not.
ed very forcibly from the rules of the com-competent/-and indeed the cO[lviction bad
pany and several precedents, that the conduc· been expressed by these men that some seriOUB
tor, and not the engine.driver, is the person accident would be aotne day the result of this
chiefly responsible for the safety of a traicj even Bnd two otber similar appointment8; but that
tbe seeing of signals of danger and the ap-the Oompaoy was not likelv. notiI a cat8.8tronhfl
plying of he brakes, and be drew the safe occurred, to accept Rny lJ~bt eo tht sut>ject.
This is a matter whicb we tros twill be thor.
conclusion that tl.Je jllr1 by ignoring entirely Ollghlyicvestigllted ey tbe Donn,
this chief reBponsibiUty, and blf.ving not 8. w.ord We believe thlu our corre&pondent was mig.
upon the action of the conductor at the time taken in supposing that all the ruleil and reo
and plaoe of the accident,had committed a Berl· gulations of the Grand Trunk were Dot laid
OtlB mistake, and done grievous injustice to the berore the jary , bat it is evIdent at least tbl
engine-driver, who expiates now in jail tbe siDs they did llO~ enmine tbelD with sufficient oare.
ot others. We bave a funher communica.tion or elee they would have attached some bllUDe
from the aame II Old Oonductor, corroborating to the Oonductor b~yond that of an omission of
from various instances the statement on the duty when f~r away from the bridge in Rich-
Grand Trunk Railway, that the company in the mond. There
is, however, in the Time Table
matter of
irregularitybr accidents to trains, and Special Rules one article which again and
bolds tbe conduotor reBPonsible.lettioQ again came before the jury, namely, the folIo,,·
the engine-drifer alone, unless he hiS evidently
broken some
rale,or disobeyed 8 positive order
of the conductor.
Much bowever, of this com·
munication contains matter which will
come as evidence before the court when Burney
is tried; and 88 it refers to the names ef
several individual8, CBn more appropriately be
reserved (or that occasioD.
however,one very importaDt f~ct
in the letter from the II Ola Oondactor which
bad better be pointed out at once. lIe contra.
dicts entirely the statement made before the
U All traina and single .enginell muat come t B stop before crossing the Rlcbelieu Bridge, and
are not to prooeed wilhout ptrmiilion frt>m ilu
man in charge oj tM bridg~.
That is to eay that not only were he trains to
stop, which they did not, but they were not au­
thorised to croes without, first communicating
with the man in charge or the bridge, who should
report everything safe. Such a rule insures per·
fect safety,
if enforced, but it was Eystematically
Ou Tuesday the Grand Jury brought in, II no
bill against Wm. Burney, the engine driver of the
train that met with the catastrophe at Be1reil
Station who was indicted for mansla.oghter. They
also made the following important presentment.
Grand Jury in submitting the following presentment, would
exprtS9 d~eir great obliga.­
tion to His Honor, Justice D:uDlIBond, for bis very able address at the
op~nicg or the Se83ion,
in which he so clearly explained to them the nature
of their dutieB and obligations, which they have strictly kept
in view, and have endea· vored to realize and
fulfil to the bC3t of their ability.
They have given the several matters submitted
to tbem their ca.reful cODsideration, and while tbey
would COD gratula.te the district
on the compe.ra.tively small number of very serio
ous crimes, still tbey have found on the calenda.r charges of great magnitude, in tbe embtzzlement case
of Mackenzie, and tbe record of the dtplo.
rable event of &he 29Lb Jane laBt, on the Grand
Ralloy, when a train was precipitated into
the Richelieu River
at Belre:J, through the
opened draw-bridge,
carr,iDg a heman rreight of fourhulldred
and suty-seveneou.le. The facta
of the former will appear in due conrse, during
the eeesions
of the Oourt, but because of No
Bill of Indictment being found against William
the driver of tht.: train, accused of man­
i~ remains for the Grand Jury, in pur·
su&nce of the instruotioDs of the· Court, to pre­
sent before it and the COtllltry, 80 far lUI they have been able
to ascertain the facls of this sad OCCur.
rence, which they regret to say, i3 main 1y due to
circumstances within the control of the Grand
Trunk Company, and which the Gr8nd Jurv trusts
the Court and Attorney Gdceral will fiod
meaDS to make them answer for in the past, and
m~ke them gaard against a recurrence of in the
future. The lawa of the country hlVe befn deli. beratelv
a.nd hllbitnlll1v hrnK(ln Ann ;nf .. in,,,ii
and a numerous and welcome band of immigrants which our Legi.alature
hitS hN>n P.Dti ….. ~.;nlJ … ,
.. ~h ~,;~ wour 8horee, bas bleo shamerully and
diigre.cefully ueed ou th~ir arrival and pr~gN!6B
through our country; while a large portion of
them have been con8igned . to an early grave, and upon the remainder has been entailed an
amount of jr.jury and Buffering hitherto unparal­lelled in the
history-of the Province.
Tile difference
beteen individuals and corpo­rations
in the eyes o( the criminal law hu neces·
sitated our stepping aside from the Ilsual COUI8~,
and in tbis manner preaenting the charges
whIch by evidence submitted to us, we deem it
our duty to do against the Grand Trunk Rail· way Company ofOanac1a,
who have in tb18
melancholy instance not only themgelves en­
tirely to blame for the OCcurN!nce, but also been
utterly and &bsmefully wantiDg in what was
due to tbe 467 passengers they carried,who
wHh their lives ere entrusted to their care.
These charges resolve themselves a9 folloW9, to
wit: Tbat the Grand Trunk Oorporation, OD
tbe 28th day of Juee hst past, did assume to
carry and convey, that is to say, the number of four
hundred aod sixty-seven pa.aeeogers in one
traio, from Point
lAlvi to Montreal, and to a
greater distance, without
haviog snitable and
proper cars (or their conveyance, and that they
so set out witb snch passengers towards s~id
destination. Tbat the Ocmpany emllloJed six freight
care for the convejacce of over
three hundred aDd sixty of said paS9lDgers,
huddling together in Each of tbeee caTS aD
average of fnlly sixty penens, equal to about
flfty adults, said ears beiog only sbout half tne
eiu of secood-cla98 cars, which are considered
full with fifty or eixty p855eO~H3; in other
worda WIth only hfllf the space which said pas,
seegers were eutitled 10, although they tad
paid the full aod ueual fare for the jauney 00
which they were bound j aod tbat they (tb~
Company) did a130 cram tbe pasaage of 6
E-econd-cI8~8 car with stsndicg pisiCDgerEl, (on
j )uroey of 160 mill!) after ba.iog fltled all tbe
seata therein. Tbat ~be GiBnd Trunk Railwav
Company stowed away tbi9 maE!! of bum~n b~·
iogs promi5luou .. ly, Bud wilh(u~ regard to Bex
or age, in theBe cloae box fr~igbt CUB, affordiDg
them no light in the day.lim!!, DOr any air be­
vond what was a.dlDitted lhrough tbe imperfecUj
filled doors, aud, after r.ight set in, refusing to
glvt! them SO] lamps or lillbt wbataoever.
That 8bid Grand T,ulJk Relil way Compaoy ftt.ih d
to ~ffJld to said pa3~EDgt-rs, at in!ervala alon!Z
a J()urnpy of nllie or ttn houril, permission to
leave 8aid.
cus to 8.DBWer tbe calla of nature,
more Darllcuarl Y 1 hA Wornn Anii hilri PAn
wbo could not. pO@!libly force tbeir way out
of be cara (liS did Some of tbe men when
the doors ere opn to admi a pail of wa.
ter) cor de8~I,d Ibertfrom without a ladder wblcb
Wcs8 not provided; but were compelled t~
procure relief aa brst tbty might in the Biuiog
or BlaDdlo~ poeidolll bl~b tbey occapitd in
these over· filltd c-irp, to tbe sHtio& a.eide of COm.
mon decency, alld to tbe disgost of tbemsflve8
/lcd tbeir fellow pu.eogra. Tbat !aid Grand
Truak Railwa, O .. mpaD, did to continuance 0
.-id l·urne, U> }(uDtreJ, ,tart afler IligbtraJl
from Rlcbmond Wltb Oll!, ODe br&.haman to coo.
~,ol ttle lllia iU1u.d or at It-bill 2. all is customar,
00 loch a tIaiD of c. •. hPD a·~d for frelgbt at
cberb .lioald b~Y,t! ~tD I·IJ .. ucb a r.ln Ii 11.1.
letir g tbat tbe C1r. Hi. llJu.;b elll CVtlVeOltUl
0 .o~ ,ba, IJ,dD .. p …… lIlier Co, and tbar
the cocaV-Dl b. I. eb~e,,o e·, !sTiCe a Dum.
~, or DII n WCIO !ioU tlJlillM to orDt:
alt:DtioD.a, .t.U(JD, I1Id aleo ~c.uJe or he
aoaence or a oUlIgage mao wno, on a passcnger
train, is aVdilable ss B brakesOlan, and otherwi:ie
when the train is io motion. And this, notwitb­
standing the remonstrance of the only brahs­
mao on ths traio, who at first refased to start
without aBgistance from Richmond, and who ooly·
:lnder premise that a second brakes~
man shquld be provided at the first station; and
80 on from sta.tion to station, uctil the train
was engulpbed in the river at Belreil. That
nid Orand Trunk Oompaoy did entrust the
care of 80 valuable a. frejght of human life
to an engine driver who had never before,
as soch, been over the roa1 from Richmond
to Montreal; and who had on1y been pro·
moted to drive an engine ten days previously,
and that ooly a pilot eogioE, and that they did
send witb him a fireman who, in that capacity,
bad never been over that part of the road at
all, and knew nothing whatever of it. And
tbat they permittcd the train to continu3 ita
journey, after the ignorance of the driver and
fireman had been made known to the conductor
and brakesman. And tbattbey did permit the
only brakesman on the train to ride on the en­
and to act as pilot to tbe driver from
Acton to St. Hilaire, passing several stations, among them the
principal station of Se.
Hyacinthe, thereby Jeaviog tbe train with ita so
valuable freight duriog tbia part of the journey
without aoy brakesmen whatever to stop the
train in case of emergency or accident, or for
the usnal and nece~sary purpose of cbecking the
speed in down grades, and for tbe other d u jES
Cor which brakesmen are usually tRlploJEd i and
tbat they did permit said train to start from
and to COD tioue irs journey uotil it
went through the drawbridge au the Richelien
without being farnished with the usual
or other means of communic.ation be­
tween the
two ends of tbe train.
1b-at the aaid Grand Trunk Oompany permit.
ted said train to proceed on to the drawbridge
at BdreU station without first coming to a step,
8S required by the statnte law of the country,
which even requires
that the stop shall be abso­
lute, aod for the full period of three minutes.
And tha.t tbey babitnslly did permit this practice
of cro2sing OD the bddge witbout stopping to
obtain leave, notwitbsta1;1ding the Jaw of the
country, and the frequent. reports c:,f the bridge.
keeper as to its iofrdction i he having testified
before the Grllotd Jury tbat he reported this on
(our different occasioDa without any Do~ice what·
ever beiog ta.ken of his report; his nesielan t n!so teslifying
lbitt durio!: ~ix VPIU r b;C tHl~u,}C>Ll.:<:
… d.o uClop;e, on no occasion did trains ever
come to a. atund on the south Eide of tbe bridge, nnleea they
tud bnsin<:es at Bt::os·il Sta.tion.
Tbat since tM 8t8tu~e law or toe couDlry reo
q nired a stop of at least three fall mimcte.~ to be
made before (oming on to f drawbridge, the
Grand Truok Compaoy sbould have rule 24 io
tbeir epecifll ruleswilb reference to said a~,
and not 89 it is at prestnt framed merely rEqulr­
iog them to .,top, thereby misleadiog their em· –
p)oyees, instead of
iDstruct·ng tbem in the pro·
per performlDce
of their duty in conformity with
law wbich bears thereon. And that they
(tilled to
communicate to their employees, that
tbe la.w JI quired a. full stop of three minutes be­fore
takbg tbe bridgt, and tbat there was a pen· aIry of
lour hundred dollars (or each time of ftiil­
ing so to do, 8S amply testifi~d to by many of
their employees, who declared they did
not know
of any sncb law.
110 JUILLET -AOUT 1999
Tbat the said Grand Trunk Company in tbeir
lime tables have flIed tbe period of departure of
the passenger traiDs trom Bdcel five minutes only
afler tbe time of departure from St. HlltLire,
notwitb~ta.ndipg tbe distance to be traversed,
tbe caution required io the down grade before
reaching the curve, the curve itself, the 11119 re­
quiring them to stop a full period of three min·
utes before takio~ tbe bridge, besides the cross·
irg the bridge and coming to the statioD, neces·
sirating 8 consnmption of at least ten minutes
to accomplish a mile; and then by obliging en­
line drivers
if they would keep the time in
Time Tnble to drive over tbis most dangerous
part of tbe road at the rate of twelve miles an
hour, nnd not stop at all before going on to the
Teat tnc Grand Trunk tJompllny snoufd iJave
c~u9f:d to be pltlced on tba south aid!:! of th(
bridge at Rlce·l,st all timetl, ddy and nIght, B
reu or danger sigofll: 88 is cu~tomary on all rail·
ways, to iudicli.te that traiDs and engines must
stop before goiog 00 to Baid bridge.
And for tbe above mtotior.ed and other very
(2raie GtJd AHiou~ f:C(.3 of omic1cion aod commis·
bion, the Grand Jury consider it thdr duty to
reirerf e tceir solt·rno convIction tbae the Ord.od
Trunk CO[I;p~ny vf CIiDadll arenlloinly respoD·
foible snd to blme for the melancholy ClttlS­
trap he 0 toe 29 b of June last, and tbe great
of lIfe cau8~d thereat, snd tha.t they
!fun said (fompaoy will be fouod amenable to
trrbunlll for tbeir.shameful treatment of their
numerous psseer gers 00 tha.t occasion.
The Grtiod Jury cannot close thia snbj~ct
without reminding the numerous emplo) us 00
tbe Grand Trunk RaIlway, and all other sncb
workE, that no man caD bp jU8tified who sssame8
to perform any duty for wbicb he does not pos­
sess the re.qnieite knowlc!dge and qllal ficatiOD,
and without bringing to tbe attentioD of ()fficials
snperintfndents, that tbey should in all their
appointments tXercilie
the greatest care pos8ible
tbt Bocb phonld be; and tbat it is no only
their p·ovlnc6 to make aDd frame the btet rules
in their power-for the governance ~ the em
plo} e3 under them, bat t.bat it 18 also tbeir
bouDdeD duty to watch closely that theBe rUles
are carri. d out.
All which i3 respectfully eubmitted.
(Signed.) JOB!l O. BBOW~J
GBA.,,D JOI11 RooloC at Montreal, ~
5th Ootober, 1864. f
His HOOOi having thanked the Gra.nd Jury for
the diligeDce they had displayed, discbarged
The Downtown Vancouver Historic Railway
By Peter Murphy
Canadas newest electric railway
just got bigger! July 15, 1999 marked -.:r:.1
the official opening of another I 112 mile
to the Downtown Vancouver
Historic Railway.
The trolley line is
pushing east along the south side
of False
Creek; the ultimate destination
is Stanley
Park. Further extensions are expected in
the near future towards this goal.
Newly restored B.C. Electric car
was placed on the line on
July 14,1999 and ran for the
first time in limited test operation the day
of the official opening. Brake problems
it from being put into regular
service but repairs are expected to be
completed shortly.
Car 1231 joins car 1207 which
has been in service for over a year; the
carbarn, which is located ·at Leg
in Boot
station, is now in the middle
of the line.
It will be moved and expanded to a new
so both cars can be housed.
Come on Board!
Cars 1207 and 1231 at Main Street station, the temporary eastern end of the newly
expanded line.
Photo by Bill Bailey
City or V … ncouvor
Car 1207 poses outside the car barn. This car was built in 1905 in the B.C Electrics own
It is 50 feet long and weighs 71 ,500 lbs. It has rattan seats in the parlour and wood
seats in the smoking section.
It operated on Vancouvers interurban line, and it cost 85 cents
to ride from Vancouver
to Steveston, or five cents between any two adjoining stations. 011
FebruCll) 28, 1958 it made the ceremonial last run of B.C Electrics interurban service.
Photo by Peter Murphy
Mayor Owen of Vancouver is flanked by Bill and Shirley Bailey, who were instrumental in the restoration of
1231, as they cut yet another ceremonial cake. Photo courlesy of Bill Bailey
TICKET NO. 6 82 4
Line shot showing the quality of rail and overhead
PholO by Peter Murphy
Two views of 1207 on the Downtown Vancouver Historic Railway. Photos by Peter Murphy
Along the line facing east fro
111 Leg in Boot station. Photo by Bill Bailey
The Great Slave Lake Excursion
By Fred Angus
The first passenger train to Hay River,
North West Territories for many years, and
possibly only the second ever, was operated,
in April 1999. by the Pacific Coast Chapter
of the Railway ancl Locomotive Historical
Society of California. This is the furthest north
one can travel by rail and still be connected to
the rest
of North America. The line was recently
sold by
CN and is now operated by Rail Link.
The special train, consisting of VIA cars 8605,
Alexandra, Franklin Manor, Mackenzie Manor,
Christie Manor, Kootenay Park, were attached
to the Canadian from Vancouver
to Edmonton,
and then ran as a special behind engines 6302
and 6304.
The excursion was a great success,
and it is hoped that others
of similar type will
be offered in the future.
ABOVE: The northbound train coming down into the
of the Peace Rivel; April 4. 1999.
LEFT The firs! VIA crew to work il1 the North West
pose at the border, going north, April5. 1999.
BELOW The special train at Hay River backing
to the
wye (at the
fonner line to Pine Point) on April 5. 1999.
BOTTOM: Parked at Hay River 011 April 6, 1999. The
train remained here
for the duration of the visit.
RIGHT On April 7, 1999, on the return trip, a runpast
was held in a snowstorm at the bridge leaving Hay
Rive!: Note the sign reading Great Slave with the
CN symbol replaced by the Rail Link insignia.
RIGHT Arrival at Peace Rivel; Alberta was at 5:35
011 April 8, 1999, several hours ahead of the
scheduled time. This allowed plenty of
time to look around, as well as for a visit from the
mayor and other officials. Here we see one of the
passenger cars being water
ed in preparation for the
trip south.
LEFT The transfer table of the marine railway at Hay
River as seen on April 6, 1999. Each track consists of
three parallel standard gauge tracks which carry trucks
on which rest the boats.
To go from one of these I racks
to al1othel; Ihe boats go 011 Ihis huge transfer table which
ilselfruns on a number ofparallel tracks. Is this the widest
gauge railway operation in Canada?
LEFT On leaving Peace
River (9:30
A.M. on
April 8, 1999) those who
wanted to could take a bus which went
scenic spots to photograph the
At the last such stop they then
boarded the train
for the trip south to
Edmonton. The rul1jJast shown here
occurred 011 a spectacular wooden
trestle. The arrival back at Edmonton
was at
30 minutes after midnight on
9, which was 6 112 hours early.
All photos
by Fred Angus
A 2-8-0 Working Up the Grade in May 1999
May was mostly a cool cloudy
month in British Columbia in 1999 (while
exact opposite I hear, was a heat spell
reported back East in the late spring of
1999). The one exception to the weather
out west in B.C. was the Victoria Day long
weekend which was a beautiful sunny
weekend which had one of the most
spectacular steam runs ever carried out in
the 1990s
on BC Rail.
The famous run was pulled off by
Trains Unlimited tours with a train hauled
by a single
2-8-0 working up the steep long
2.2 percent grade out of Lillooet to Kelly
It all began at North Vancouver on
Saturday morning May 22, 1999. BC
Rails ex CPR 3716 departed with one
baggage car and three coaches. and after a few
run-bys along the way it
sneaked its passengers
in to Lillooet about 19:00.
The next morning May 23rd was the
big day!
Bright and clear and warm, railfans
lay in
ambush with their lens caps off. 3716
was not going to be rushed, the 9:00 depmture
was cancelled to allow a BC Rail freight to
come down grade to Lillooet. Once the north
switch was cleared the
2-8-0 blasted off at 9:50.
mile later it stopped across the Fraser river
bridge -il
seems some passengers wanted to
gel off.
They climbed the hill, bul the steam
engine did nol. It sneaked back across the
bridge towards Lillooet again. Now with every
one of those adventLUous passengers up the hill,
By David J Meridew
ABOVE: 3716 al Lillooe!, B. c.just before departing
011 ils trip to Kelly Lake.
LEFT: Leaving Lillooe
t. northbound towards the
bridge over the Fraser Rive!:
W-3716 exiling Gibbs lunllel al mile 168.4,
upgrade from Lillooel.
OPPOSITE TOP: AI mile 168.9 between Gibbs
and the highway oveJpass.
OPPOSITE MIDDLE: The train at mile 170
between Gibbs
and Glen FraSe!:
3716 arriving upgrade at
All pholos by the author on May 23, 1999.
wheezing, gasping for air and canl
hold their cameras still, 3716
blasted across the bridge straight at
them in a fury
of smoke and flame
-while across the valley far away
on a road, big teles
were image
The 2-8-0 simmered down,
backed up to pick up the customers,
while the big teles
jumped on their
wheels and headed
up grade for the
next ambush. 3716 did not
disappoint, at Fountain, Gibbs,
Glenfraser and Pavilion the 2-8-0
showed what its was built to do on
a steep mountain grade.
The 2.2 percent grade
continues all the way (after crossing
the Fraser river bridge) to Kelly Lake but
the road and rail splits at Pavilion leaving
the long teles single, lonely and deprived
of hot steam (only their cars now have
.. They the image takers, they cant
afford wings are stranded at Pavilion their
lens caps go back on.
3716 image taking is now solely the
of the onboard passengers.
Still a few desperate long teles
jump into
their hot cars and take a
detour to Clinton
then south to Kelly Lake for one more
chance at an ambush
of 3716.
Meanwhile less insane long teles lie
wait back at Pavilion for the return of the
They snooze under the shade of a
Pavilion tree, while the wood ticks crawl into
their hair.
Then the chase begins again at Pavilion,
down grade with a single run-by at
r. 3716 is weaker now, its power
strokes muted to
prevent a runaway. If
they are not careful they wont be able to
stop where they arrive at Lillooet.
of tile long teles arrive too, dusty, sunburnt
and even
some with wood ticks in their
Sunday May 23, 1999 was the greatest
day in the
history of BC Rails ownership
of 3716 for displaying, out in the open, to
general public, what a 2-8-0 can really do
on continuous steep grade.
The next day Monday May 24, j 999,
3716 departed Lillooet at 7:55 a.m.
southbound for North Vancouver and
Sperry Testing Track in Sweden and Norway
Editors note: The following article appeared in the May I 1999 issue of the News-Times of Danbury Connecticut, the city in
which is the headquarters of Sperry Rail Service. The article is reprinted here as it represents the extension of operations of a company
which has tested track in Canada for almost 70 years. Although conditions
in Canada are very much the same as in the United States,
in Europe are not. Hence the new car, SRS 200, has quite a different appearance from the Sperry cars we are accustomed to
seeing on so many
of North Americas railways. Most notable from a quick glance are the buffers and the new streamlined shape, but
there are many other differences as
we read from the article below.
Sperry enters high-tech arena to test Scandinavian railroads
John Pirro, News-Times Although Sperry, which has been
in business for 71 years
-the last
51 in Danbury -is the worlds largest provider of rail
flaw detection services, all of its
equipment was geared for use on
American railroads, where the
predominant traffic is heavy, slow­
moving freight trains. Consequently,
most of its testing vehicles are
designed to move at speeds of about
13 mph.
But in Europe, most trains carry
passengers and run at speeds in
of 100 miles per hour. As a
result, the window
of opportunity for
track testing is smaller. You have
be able to cover the track as
quickly as possible said Robin
Clark, Sperrys director of
engineering. The new rail tester can
routinely operate at 50 kilometers per
hour, about 35 mph.
Sperry Rail President Tom Dejoseph, left, talks with workers who are doing the final tests on
a high-tech car the company designed and built.
But track speed isnt the only
thing that has to run faster. Faster
computers and electronics are
necessary to assimilate the data being
collected and display it in a manner
Danbury –
Sometime next week, a self-propelled rail
car will roll out of the Sperry Rail Services shop on a trip that
will take it across the Atlantic Ocean and into the Arctic Circle.
We hope it never
comes back said Sperry President Tom
An odd wish, perhaps, for the
$1 million-plus, one-of­
a-kind vehicle that the company designed and spent the past
four months building.
But should the wish come true, it would
an almost incalculable payout on a gamble the Shelter
Rock Road company took when it decided to expand its long­
established, U.S. rail-testing operations into the European
The diesel-powered, yellow-and-black car, resembling
at first glance an enormous bus,
is loaded with computer and
electronic equipment designed to detect the tiniest flaw
in the
twin steel rails on which it runs. Sperry conceived it in a
successful attempt
to win contracts to inspect the tracks used
by the national railways in Sweden and Norway.
Wed bid on another contract there several years ago,
we lost the bid, mainly because we didnt have a piece of
equipment that could do what this one does Dejoseph said. that can be easily understood later.
As the
car moves over the tracks, ultrasound equipment sends
sound waves to the core
of the steel rails, probing for defects
that are invisible to the eye.
When the molten steel for the rails is poured, impurities
can be trapped inside. When the rails are extruded to their full
length, even a speck
of dirt can develop into a crack or another
defect. Should the wheel
of a loaded, ISO-ton freight car hit it
just right, the rail could fracture, possibly resulting in a
Sperrys contract with the companies in the two countries
call for the car and its three-man crew to conduct the inspections
for three or four months a year over the next five years. The
company hopes the down time can be used to develop contracts
with other European railroads.
In addition to its crew, Sperry
is sending a 10-member
team, headed by director
of special projects Alistair Veitch, to
Sweden next month to make sure the project gets
off on the
right track. This
is the first lime a U.S. company has been in
Europe for this kind of work in a long time Veitch said.
The test car will travel by rail to Newark, N.J. where
will be loaded on a ship for Sweden. Its due to arrive May 26.
The Busilless Car
The excursion train, inaugurated last year, running
between Mattawa Ontario and Temiskaming Quebec, is running
its 1999 season with new equipment.
The above view shows
it at Mattawa on July 31, 1999. Instead of borrowed Ontario
Northland coaches, the train
now runs with four former CPR
800 series
commuter cars, built in 1953, from the Montreal
Lakeshore service. Cars 815, 824, 828, 829 have become 7401
7404 respectively. The remaining 36 cars of the series are
still in service in Montreal.
Motive power is lettered Rail Link
for the owners
of the line. Although billed as one of the best
new attractions
in Ontario, almost all of the run is in Quebec!
The trip is extremely scenic, and will be even more so with the
fall colours. There is plenty
of time at Temiskaming to explore
the town and visit the museum.
The Okanagan Valley Wine Train, mentioned in the
March-April issue
of Canadian Rail, finally began operation
on July 2.
The trips of July 2 and 3 were evening runs, the first
daytime trip being on July 4. Your editor had the privilege
being on the first day trip, and took the above photo at Kewlona.
The ride is very scenic, and the trip is recommended to anyone
travelling in British Columbia.
As part of the commemoration of the upcoming new
millennium, the Royal Canadian Mint is issuing a series of
twenty-four 25 cent pieces, one each month for 1999 and 2000.
The one for June, 1999 shows a CPR 4-4-0 locomotive of the
The coins are very attractive, and, unlike many
commemoratives, are available at face value. If you cant get
them from the bank, try the post office. They are
meant for
circulation, so one way
of promoting interest in railways is to
get them and spend them, so others will get interested too. They
are also excellent keepsakes, so dont spend all of them.

In 1916 the CPR built a beautiful station on Torontos
Yonge Street. This station was used for passengers for only 14
years, being closed in 1930. In 1939 it was reopened for only
one day for the Royal Train. In recent years it has been a
store, but it still retains most of its decorations including the
impressive clock tower. Recently it was announced that it will
be renovated, but will not be a station for the forseeable future.
The last two issues of Canadian Rail have not had any
to our popular series of views of murals with railway
subjects. We have lots
of new photos of murals that we have
not reported before, and we will continue the series soon.
This issue of Canadian Rail is very late due to several
reasons. Your editor was away much
of July, and then there
was a problem with one
of the drives of the computer. Then
additional material arrived relating to the Beloeil Bridge
Disaster, and it was decided to wait and include it. Hopefully
our publication will soon be back on schedule.
BA CK COVER: No, it:~ not the approach to Victoria Bridge in 1954, its the Old Port of Montreal in July, 19991 The occasion was a
display of equipment from the Canadian Railway Museum in connection with Canada Day celebrations. One of the stars of the show
former MOlltreal & Southern Counties car 611, built in 1917, which was restoredfor the occasion along with other pieces frol11
the Museum:~ collection. Photo by Peter MllIphy
This issue of Canadian Rail delivered to printer September 8. 1999.
Canadian Rail
120, rue St-Pierre, St. Constant, Quebec
Canada J5A 2G9
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