Point Ellice Bridge Disaster

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On May 26, 1896 in Victoria, British Columbia, a streetcar crowded with 143 holidaymakers on their way to attend celebrations of Queen Victoria’s birthday, crashed through Point Ellice Bridge into the Upper Harbour.[1] 55 men, women and children were killed in the accident,[2] making this one of the worst disasters in British Columbia history and the worst accident in Canadian transit history.[1] Only those passengers on the left side of the streetcar were able to escape.[3]

On June 12, 1896, a coroner’s jury concluded that the tramway operator, the Consolidated Electric Railway Company, was responsible for the disaster because it allowed its streetcar to be loaded with a much greater weight of passengers than the bridge was designed to support. The city council of Victoria was found to be guilty of contributory negligence because the bridge had not been well maintained, and because council failed to take steps to restrict the traffic on the bridge to within safe limits. The design and construction of the bridge was also found to have been poor, especially in that the specifications called for weldless iron to be used but that the ironwork was almost all welded.

The Consolidated Electric Railway Company was forced into receivership by the disaster and emerged reorganized as the British Columbia Electric Railway on April 15, 1897.[4]

Point Ellice Bridge[edit]

The Point Ellice Bridge, between Victoria and Victoria West, spans the Upper Harbour at the same location today. It marks where the Upper Harbour ends and the Selkirk Water begins.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Francis (ed), Daniel (2000) [1999]. Francis, Daniel, ed. Encyclopedia of British Columbia. Harbour Publishing. p. 562. ISBN 1-55017-200-X. 
  2. ^ Henry Ewert, The Story of the B. C. Electric Railway Company, North Vancouver, Whitecap Books, 1986
  3. ^ Looker, Janet (2000). "Point Ellice Bridge Collapse". Disaster Canada. Lynx Images. p. 241. ISBN 1-894073-13-4. 
  4. ^ "Twenty Nine Years of Public Service: British Columbia Electric Railway Limited". 1925. p. 11. Retrieved 2010-01-30. 
  • Parker, Douglas V. (1981). No Horesecars in Paradise: A History of the Street Railways and Public Utilities in Victoria, British Columbia before 1897. Railfare Enterprises. ISBN 0-920620-29-9. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 48°26′3.32″N 123°22′41.14″W / 48.4342556°N 123.3780944°W / 48.4342556; -123.3780944