Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain Marie Rose Morin

Historical Insights St-Hilaire Train Disaster

The Grand Trunk Railway, a London-based company, operated in the provinces of Ontario and Quebec. The company was near bankruptcy when the accident occurred, but recovered. 1885, Canada. Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

St-Hilaire Train Disaster

At 1:10 a.m., June 29, the train known as “The Immigrant Special” plunged into the Richelieu River and into history as Canada’s deadliest train wreck.

Marie Rose Morin of Quebec City, Quebec, was certainly horrified to hear of the terrible train wreck that took place nearby on June 29, 1864. *

* Insight to be reviewed

Other relatives

{{count}} lived in or near St-Hilaire, Quebec, when the St-Hilaire train disaster occurred in June 1864.

In the early morning hours of June 29, 1864, a Grand Trunk Railway train, “The Immigrant Special,” was speeding along on its route from Quebec City to Montreal. On board were approximately 458 passengers, many of them German and Polish immigrants that had recently arrived in Canada. A mile before the train approached the Beloeil Bridge, a swing bridge spanning the Richelieu River, a red light signaled that the bridge was open and the train needed to slow down. However, neither the engineer nor conductor acknowledged the warning. The train then hurled into a large open gap, where waters at least 10 feet deep, swirled below. The engine and cars crashed one on top of each other and in the collision also crushed a passing barge. At least 99 people died, with another 100 injured. The conductor died, but the engineer, a recent hire, escaped with minor injuries. A grand jury later found the company negligent in its actions.