The Way We Were

The following article first appeared in "The Low Down to Hull and Back News" in the July 25, 2012 issue. Reprinted with permission.

Unusual apt description for accidental deaths

foreword by Louise Schwartz

The former village of Kirk's Ferry, now part of the municipality of Chelsea, seems to have suffered its share of accidental deaths. Here are a few news stories from the past, taken from the Montreal Gazette, reporting on somewhat unusual causes of death. Readers are cautioned that some of details may be disturbing.

"Dominion News from Ottawa" from July 7, 1879

News reached the city yesterday of a most lamentable accident caused by a premature explosion of dynamite in Goss' phosphate mine at Kirk's Ferry, on Thursday evening resulting in the almost instant death of a labourer named P. McGovern, and the serious injury of another employee named Crouse.

The Way We Were
A wrecked car on the shore of the Gatineau River. Note the huge pine logs it's resting on. The car is believed to be a Chevrolet, at the time a direct competitor of Henry Ford's Model T. What happened to the car's occupants is not known. 1920. Photo courtesy of the Gatineau Valley Historical Society.

The men were engaged in the mine which is 30 feet deep, in preparing a blast which exploded, whilst the men were only a few feet distant. A large rock weighing about 75 pounds was thrown by the force of the explosion to the top of the mine, and in falling struck McGovern on the chest, causing internal injuries which resulted in his death shortly afterwards.

McGovern's face was terribly mutilated, his nose and a larger portion of one side of his face being blown off. The unfortunate man made his way out of the mine, and walked some distance in order to get a drink of water. He inquired after the safety of his comrade, and in a few minutes afterwards fell back and expired.

Crouse's injuries consisted of a fearfully bruised face and it is thought his condition is such that he will not recover. McGovern was 30 years of age and Crouse 25. Both were unmarried and had resided in the neighbourhood for years.

"Ottawa Notes" from June 3, 1909

The jury to inquire into the death of Henry McAllister, the school boy of Kirk's Ferry, who was killed by touching a telegraph wire at the Ferry on Tuesday, returned a verdict to the effect that the Great North Western Telegraph Company was "criminally negligent, inasmuch as it left live wires, hanging near the ground for three weeks."

Mr. H.G. Davis, local manager of the G.N.W., said that had they known the wires were down they would have repaired them immediately. The wires had been brought down by the breaking of the insulators. Many complaints as to boys breaking these had been received from the Kirk's Ferry district. The evidence will be forwarded to the provincial attorney general.

"Killed by Train: Confused by Storm, Did Not Realize Nearness of Train" from July 1, 1918

Miss Mary Ellen (Nettie) O'Connell of 316 Besserer Street was accidentally killed at Kirk's Ferry while attempting to board a train during the severe thunderstorm.

Apparently being confused by the rain and thunder, she did not think the train was near and essayed to cross the platform. She realized her mistake too late to stop, as she was running down a slight hill.

She tried to step back off the track, but a projecting part of the engine struck her on the head, hurling her back and killing her instantly.

She was the daughter of the late John O'Connell, J.P., of Quebec City and interment will be made there. The body was brought to Ottawa on Saturday afternoon.

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