Almonte is home to an important little memorial, tucked into the corner of Mill and Bridge Streets.
On December 27, 1942, 8:43p.m., Almonte was the scene of one of the worst train crashes in Canadain history. It was wartime. CPR train #550 was hauling ten wooden cars of passengers returning from celebrating Christmas. A second train of 13 metal coaches was filled with soldiers heading to the front lines. Both were scheduled to move through the Almonte station.
Due to a series of unfortunate circumstances, the troop train crashed into the back of the passenger train stopped at the Almonte station. The last three cars of the passenger train crumbled on impact. Thirty-nine people died, about two hundred others were injured, all were emotionally scarred by this awful event. My mother was one of the survivors. She was seventeen.
In the midst of this horror, great acts of courage and heroism were witnessed.
This is the event remembered by the little memorial. The twin granite markers were erected in December 2000 to honour the memory of those killed or injured as well as those who heroically responded.
When we moved to Almonte a couple of years ago, I was privileged to be able to visit this site frequently … to remember, to honour and to pray. However, I soon noticed that this site was frequently used to post signs advertising various events. At some points, the number of signs blocked the memorial and certainly detracted from the intention of the site. I also noticed that no other memorial was disrespected in this way. Visitors and relatives have remarked on this.
I contacted the Town Council with my concerns and prompt action was taken to remove signs. Vendors were notified when possible and requested to relocate signs. When information was available, I contacted vendors individually and most responded graciously.
I realize that this is a small memorial and can tend to be overlooked, but whatever we can do to preserve the dignity of this site will honour an important event in our history.
I am grateful to those who maintain the memorial with landscaping and flower planters, to Town Council who continue to act on this concern and to those who have relocated their signs away from the memorial.