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An Eye Witness Account of when the Boiler Blew at the Stouffville Station



On December 7, 1916 the Stouffville Tribune reprinted the following article from 1874 regarding an unfortunate explosion in Downtown Stouffville. The story is graphic and stunning. Nothing was left untold.

“On Saturday last, at half past eleven o’clock a.m., the boiler of the Fairlie engine, the best and most powerful engine on the Toronto & Nipissing Railway, exploded at Stouffville Station. The boilers, cab, and all the machinery above the tracks, were lifted completely off and the debris scattered more than thirty rods in every direction.

One boiler, weight about ten tons, was blown more than one hundred yards over the station striking the roof just over the agent’s room, where it appeared to have turned end over end tearing away the roof and joists beneath; it then passed over the partition between the agent’s room and the freight room, carrying away the roof and north end of the station, and landed on the wood pile about three rods north of the station.

A joist and part of the ceiling fell on Mr. Cowley, the agent, who was at the instrument, which knocked him senseless, but inflicted no serious injury to him. Two firemen on the engine, named James Trunkfield and William Carruthers, were instantly killed. William Godfrey, the driver was thrown against a wood pile breaking one arm and leg and dislocating his shoulder and causing such internal injuries as to prove fatal. He died on the Tuesday following.

Mr. H. Haney, a wood dealer, had just stepped off the cab of the engine onto the platform at the time of the explosion, and was thrown several feet in the air and fell on his head and shoulders, stunning him severely and causing some abrasions of the skin on the nose and face. James Trunkfield was projected through the air, over the residence of Mr. Cowley, a distance of twenty-two and a half rods (113 metres).

Wm. Carruthers, fireman and son of Alderman Carruthers, Toronto, a promising young man, was thrown against Mr. Cowley’s house striking and smashing the upper story window. The concussion was so great as to completely strip him of his clothing, and rendered the body one mangled mass.

The sight was sad and revolting. The engine was standing about fifty feet from the station, at the north end of the platform at the time of the explosion, and tore away about, twenty feet of the track and twenty-five feet of the platform. The engines were attached to the lower part of the tracks, and are not materially injured. The loss to the railway Company will be about $6000.

Immediately on receipt of the news of the accident W. Gooderham Jr. Esq. President and Managing Director of the line, ordered the agent at Markham to send all the medical help to be had in the village to assist those at Stouffville in relieving those injured, still living.”

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