BC Had Canada's Worst Transit Disaster

Posted by Howard on Aug 9, 2013

A rash of railway accidents around the world have raised the issue of railroad safety in recent weeks. Such issues are not new to BC headlines; indeed, they have become rarer over the years. The POINT ELLICE BRIDGE COLLAPSE, 26 May 1896, was the worst accident in Canadian transit history, claiming 55 lives, eight more than died in the recent Lac Megantic rail disaster in Quebec. The Point Ellice bridge spanned Victoria’s Gorge on the streetcar line connecting Victoria and Esquimalt. It was Victoria Day and a large crowd was heading to Esquimalt to watch a Royal Navy sail-past. At 1:40 pm the middle span of the bridge collapsed as streetcar No 16 was crossing. The vehicle spilled over with 143 passengers aboard and plunged into the water. Most of the fatalities were passengers; others were people who were on the bridge at the time. In another parallel to the Lac Megantic incident, the rail company involved, Consolidated Railway Co, went bankrupt, leaving victims with effectively no compensation.