A westbound train, The Minaki Campers’ Special operating as Passenger Extra 6001 West, was a seasonal excursion service carrying vacationers from the Minaki region of Northwestern Ontario. It had been given orders at Malachi, Ontario, 100 miles (160 km) east of Winnipeg to meet Canadian National Railways train No. 4, the eastbound Continental Limited at Vivian. These orders were changed subsequently, so that the meeting point was relocated 16 miles (26 km) westward, for a meet at Dugald, 14 miles (23 km) east of Winnipeg. These second orders had been received at Elma.
By the train order operation rules then in use, Extra 6001 would have to use the siding at the east switch of Dugald. The conductor of the train reminded the engineer of the Dugald stop one or two miles beforehand, by the air signal line, and received the proper acknowledgement. However, Extra 6001 failed to enter the siding at the east switch, and collided head-on with the stationary eastbound train number 4, the Continental Limited at 9:44 p.m. at approximately 30 miles per hour (48 km/h).
Extra 6001 was composed of U-1-a class locomotive 6001, two steel baggage cars, nine wooden gas-illuminated coaches, and two steel parlor cars. After the collision, the wooden carriages of the vacation train caught fire. Strict rationing of steel during World War II had resulted in old wooden cars being kept in service until newer cars could be purchased. The collision began a series of events that caused fires fueled by compressed gas from broken lines and tanks on the wood coaches that gutted the wooden cars and set fire to oil tanks near the tracks. With the exception of the engineer and fireman of Extra 6001, who were killed by the initial collision, the fatalities of this incident were caused by the fire. No fatalities occurred in the vacation train's two rear cars or on the Continental Limited.
An inquiry blamed the crew of the vacationers' train for failing to obey orders. The inquiry also determined that the crew's error had been precipitated by their seeing a clear signal, which implied that the track ahead was clear, and that the Continental Limited’s dimming of its headlamp while waiting in the station lessened its visibility to the oncoming vacation train. This resulted in both the acquisition of modern rail cars and the improvement of rules regarding operations on the line.