Skip to Content

Canoe River, BC Train Collision, Nov 1950

FEAR BOOST WRECK TOLL -- SIX SOLDIERS ARE FIGHTING FOR LIVES.

BODIES OF THREE RAILWAYMEN FOUND; THREE STILL MISSING.

Jasper, Alta., Nov. 23. -- (CP) -- The death toll from Tuesday's mountain train wreck threatened to climb above 20 today as at least six injured soldiers fought for their lives in hospital.

Service Resumed.
Meanwhile the Canadian National Railways resumed normal traffic on its main line through the Canadian Rockies. The line near Canoe River, B.C., 83 miles west of here, where a 17-car troop train plowed headlong into an oncoming 10-car passenger train as it rounded a curve, was cleared of wreckage last night. The wreckage had been piled 50 feet high.
First train past the wreck scene was the eastbound Continental Limited due on time during the afternoon. First westbound trains since the wreck left Edmonton this morning.
In hospital at Edmonton, 312 miles from the scene of one of the worst train wrecks in recent Canadian history, at least six soilders fought for their lives. Authorities at University hospital said they were "dangerously ill."
These critically injured, like comrades who died in collision, suffered serious burns when the giant mountain locomotives disintegrated and shot a scalding stream of water from burst boilers into the coaches.
Of 61 persons injured in the wreck, 83 miles west of here, 37 stretcher cases and 10 walking injured still are in hospital at Edmonton and another two are in hospital at Kamloops, B.C.
C.N.R. main-line traffic had been re-routed onto C.P.R. lines through Kamloops, 191 miles west of the wreck scene, and Calgary.

Find Three Bodies.
Workers unscrambling the twisted, firescarred wreckage have recovered and identified the bodies of three missing persons -- Engineer J.J. STINSON and fireman ADAM OLESCHUK, both of Jasper, Alta., and fireman P. D. PROSINUK of Edmonton.
Still missing are the bodies of engineer HARVEY CHURCH of Jasper, Alta., and two soldiers.
Army officials said that 12 of the other bodies reached Edmonton yesterday after a 15-hour trip aboard a hospital train. They said that efforts were still being made to recover the bodies of two more men known to be in the wreckage and identified. In addition, two men were missing.
Officials erroneously reported previously that 14 bodies had been brought to Edmonton.
They were all members of the 2nd Regiment Royal Canadian Horse Artillery, part of Canada's special force, en route from Shilo, Man., to Fort Lewis, Wash.
Also aboard the hospital train were the injured, all but five of them soldiers, and the remainder of the 340 troops who escaped. The latter continued on the the big army camp at Wainwright, Alta., 130 miles southeast of Edmonton, where they will rest up and be outfitted with new kit.

Five Die On Train.
On all the stretcher cases and the uninjured were the deep marks of fatigue and shock. They had seen companions die in the wreck and on the hospital train after it moved east out of Canoe River. Four soldiers died on the train between Canoe River and Jasper and another two just after it reached Jasper. One died in the arms of an Anglican minister who boarded the train at the mountain resort town.
First reports said 12 bodies were taken from the wreckage. It was learned later that four of the bodies were those of injured and died soon after they were placed on the hospital train.
While the troops lowered stretcher cases through the train windows to a line of waiting ambulances in 17-below-zero weather at Edmonton, they disclosed that the wreck might have been worse if it had occured a half-minute sooner.
The troop train had gone only a half-mile after crossing a trestle over a 500-foot canyon when the wreck occurred. Had it taken place at the trestle, the soldiers said, the death toll may have been in the hundreds.

The Lethbridge Herald Alberta 1950-11-23



article | by Dr. Radut