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 (today usually referred to as the Bay Street Bridge) into the Upper Harbour.[1] 55 men, women, and children were killed in the accident,[2] making it one of the worst transit disasters in British Columbia.[1] Only passengers on the left side of the streetcar escaped.[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 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, connects the two halves of Bay Street 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.

Point Ellice, and the Point Ellice Bridge, were named for Edward Ellice who joined the NWC in 1805 and was largely responsible for its decision to merge with the HBC. He went on to a political career in England and was deputy governor of the HBC from 1858 to 1863.[5]:73

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.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  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.
  5. ^ Akrigg, G.P.V.; Akrigg, Helen B. (1986), British Columbia Place Names (3rd, 1997 ed.), Vancouver: UBC Press, ISBN 0-7748-0636-2
  • 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]

Reprint of articles from the Victoria Colonist of May 27, 1896Victoria Colonist May 26, 1896 Victoria Colonist May 27, 1896 Victoria Colonist May 28, 1896 Victoria Colonist May 29, 1896 Victoria Colonist May 30, 1896 Coroner's Jury Hearings May 31, 1896 Coroner's Jury Findings June 13, 1896


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