Canadian Transport Sourcebook

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While rail transport is the safest way to transport goods and people, the enormous quantities of freight and, in the past, passengers transported by rail mean that accidents every now and then are inevitable. See below for a list of the most prominent railway accidents in Canadian railway history.

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Railway Accidents
Railway Accidents
Wreck of Hoppers at Merritton, Ontario, November 16, 1918
Wreck of Hoppers at Merritton, Ontario, November 16, 1918
Wreck of Two Grand Trunk Locomotives at Merritton, Ontario, November 16, 1918
Wreck of Two Grand Trunk Locomotives at Merritton, Ontario, November 16, 1918
Tombstone of Edmund Bird
Tombstone of Edmund Bird
Five C.N.R. Freight Cars Fall 30 Feet to Highway at Breslau Subway—18 Others Derailed
Five C.N.R. Freight Cars Fall 30 Feet to Highway at Breslau Subway—18 Others Derailed
Freight Cars Plunge to Highway
Freight Cars Plunge to Highway
Freight Cars Plunge to Highway
Freight Cars Plunge to Highway
A Fatal Wreck on the G.T.R., One Mile East of Oshawa, Ont
A Fatal Wreck on the G.T.R., One Mile East of Oshawa, Ont
A Fatal Wreck on the G.T.R., One Mile East of Oshawa, Ont
A Fatal Wreck on the G.T.R., One Mile East of Oshawa, Ont
Wreck Near Jaffray, B.C.
Wreck Near Jaffray, B.C.

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Here is a list of major railway accidents in Canada:

October 27, 1854Baptiste Creek, Canada West (Ontario)In the dark and in foggy conditions, a Great Western Railway express train, running seven hours late, ran into a gravel train. At least 52 were killed. At the time, this was the worst railway accident ever in North America.
March 12, 1857Hamilton, Canada West (Ontario)An axle of a Great Western Railway passenger train broke, causing the train to smash through the Desjardins Canal bridge into the canal. At least 59 people were killed.
June 29, 1864Beloeil, Canada East (Quebec)A Grand Trunk Railway immigrant train failed to stop at an open swing bridge and plunged into the Richelieu River. 99 people were killed, making this the deadliest railway accident ever in Canada.
June 22, 1872Shannonville, OntarioA Grand Trunk express train derailed and fell into and around the Salmon River. While only two people were killed outright by the impact, many people were badly scalded, and the final death toll was 34.
February 28, 1874Komoka, OntarioA fire broke out on a moving Great Western Railway accommodation train, resulting in 10 deaths.
September 28, 1875Yamaska, QuebecSabotage derailed a work train on the Richelieu, Drummond and Arthabaska Railroad; 11 workmen are killed. The saboteurs are never identified.
January 2, 1884Toronto, OntarioA westbound commuter train collided with a small freight train, resulting in 29 deaths.
July 15, 1887St. Thomas, OntarioA Grand Trunk excursion train on the London and Port Stanley Railway collided at a crossing with freight cars containing petroleum on a Michigan Central train; 17 people died in the ensuing fire.
February 27, 1889St. George, OntarioA Grand Trunk Railway passenger train derailed on a bridge; 10 people are killed.
April 28, 1889Hamilton, OntarioAt a location only around one kilometre away from the Desjardins Canal disaster of 1857, a Grand Trunk Railway express jumped the tracks in the rain and burst into flames, killing 18.
July 9, 1895Craig's Road, QuebecOn the Grand Trunk Railway, a train packed with pilgrims headed for the pilgrimage site of Ste. Anne de Beaupré rear-ended another train of pilgrims; 14 people were killed.
May 26, 1896Victoria, British ColumbiaThe Point Ellice Bridge collapsed, sending a streetcar into the harbour. 55 people were killed.
November 15, 1898Murray Hill, OntarioA Grand Trunk Railway express train was switched onto the incorrect track and collided with a freight train, killing 11.
December 26, 1902Wanstead, OntarioOn the Grand Trunk Railway, a freight train and an express train received conflicting orders releasing them towards each other; all attempts to avoid a collision are in vain and they collided, killing 28.
February 9, 1904Sand Point, OntarioThe engineer of a Canadian Pacific Railway express train forgot orders to take the siding at Sand Point and collided with another express train. Around 15 people were killed.
September 12, 1906Azilda, OntarioA Canadian Pacific Railway express train with faulty brakes failed to stop at Azilda and collided with a harvester train; 12 people were killed.
September 3, 1907Caledon, OntarioA Canadian Pacific Railway train took the Horseshoe Curve at excessive speed and wrecked, killing seven and injuring 114.
November 10, 1909Vancouver, British ColumbiaA flatcar piled high with timber uncoupled from a British Columbia Electric Railway train and collided with a streetcar. All 24 people aboard the streetcar are casualties; 15 of them die.
November 28, 1909New Westminster, British ColumbiaLess than three weeks after a railway disaster in nearby Vancouver, an embankment carrying the Great Northern Railway over Kilby Creek collapsed and a work train fell through, killing 22.
January 21, 1910Webbwood, OntarioA Canadian Pacific Railway passenger trail derailed and fell into the Spanish River; there were 43 fatalities.
March 4, 1910Revelstoke, British ColumbiaAn avalanche killed 58 men removing snow from the Canadian Pacific Railway main line through Rogers Pass.
July 7, 1915Queenston, OntarioThe brakes failed on an overcrowded streetcar on the Niagara Falls and Victoria Park Railway; it careened down a hill and wrecked, killing 15.
January 12, 1916Brandon, ManitobaIn a thick fog, a Canadian Pacific Railway work train loaded with workers clearing snow out of the yard collided at slow speed with a livestock train, killing 19.
March 20, 1929Drocourt, OntarioA Canadian National Railways transcontinental passenger train collided with another transcontinental after it failed to take the siding at Drocourt; between 15 and 20 people were killed.
December 25, 1934Dundas, OntarioDue to inattention at his post (he believed his train was on a different track than it really was), Edward Lynch, brakeman on a Canadian National Railways holiday special train, switched the Maple Leaf Flyer train into the rear of his train, killing 15.
March 2, 1936Albert Canyon, British ColumbiaA locomotive tender crashed down atop a group of men removing snow from the Canadian Pacific Railway; 16 people were killed.
December 27, 1942Almonte, OntarioA Canadian Pacific Railway train, running late, was struck from behind by a troop train that had failed to maintain enough space. 36 people were killed and the conductor of the troop train committed suicide.
September 1, 1947Dugald, ManitobaOn the Canadian National Railway, the Minaki Special failed to take the siding at Dugald and hit a Transcontinental train standing on the main line; 31 people are killed.
November 21, 1950Canoe River, British ColumbiaA Canadian National Railway troop train collided head-on with a passenger train; 21 were killed. Red Pass station agent Alfred Atherton, charged with manslaughter, was successfully defended by defense attorney John G. Diefenbaker in a sensational trial.
October 7, 1966Dorion, QuebecA Canadian National Railway freight train struck a school bus at a level crossing. There were 19 fatalities on the bus.
November 10, 1979Mississauga, OntarioOn a Canadian Pacific Railway freight train carrying toxic chemicals, an undetected hotbox led to an axle falling off a moving car, causing a derailment. No casualties, but over 220,000 people were evacuated, at that time the largest peacetime evacuation ever.
February 8, 1986Dalehurst, AlbertaA Canadian National freight train, for reasons that are unclear, ran a stop signal and collided with a VIA Rail passenger train east of Hinton, resulting in 23 deaths.
July 6, 2013Lac-Mégantic, QuebecAn unmanned runaway train on the Montreal, Maine, and Atlantic Railway carrying petroleum derailed in the centre of the town and burst into flames; 47 people in the town were killed.

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