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Lakeview Disaster

Plaque

On November 10, 1909, near this site, BC Electric Interurban car “Sumas” was destroyed by a runaway flat car loaded with timbers destined for the iron foundry at Nanaimo and 24th Avenue. The impact with “Sumas” released the timbers which shot off the flat car instantly killing 14 passengers and seriously injuring 9 others. It remains the worst transit accident in Vancouver. “Sumas” was rebuilt and re-entered service as car number 1216 in 1910.

History

It was November 9, 1909. BC Electric’s Interurban car “Sumas” was heading east along the line near Trout Lake to New Westminster under the direction of motorman George Thorburn. Farther up the line a flatcar loaded with heavy timbers being delivered to the iron foundry at Nanaimo and 24th Avenue uncoupled from its train and began rolling back down the hill towards the lake. The flatcar and its timbers “rushing city ward with tremendous momentum” smashed into the east-bound “Sumas”. The impact released the timbers which shot off the flat car and demolished the “Sumas” instantly killing 14 passengers and seriously injuring 9 others. One later died from their injuries.

Interestingly, “Sumas” was rebuilt after the accident and re-entered service as car number 1216 in 1910.

Lawsuits over the accident carried on for more than a year and resulted in the BC Electric Railway paying out substantial damages to the families of those killed and injured.

12 of the victims were buried at Vancouver’s Mountain View Cemetery. Today the accident site is a community garden under the SkyTrain guideway at Victoria and Vanness.

The victims:

Thorburn, George
. Thirty-four year-old Thorburn was the motorman of the Interurban car Sumas. He lived on Hamilton Street in downtown Vancouver.
Bowes, Thomas 
Farmer, Thomas
 Holland, Edward 
Lyons, Robert 
Mitchel, Samuel Glidden 
Pochin, Harry Slayton, Henry Hathway. 
Forty year-old carpenter Slayton lived on Richards Street in Vancouver. Stevens, William Edward.
Stevens lived on Prior Street near Gore and worked laying watermains for 
the City.
Stevens, James F. 
Tuttle, Thomas 
Tuttle’s 10 month old son died in Jan 1910 and both were disinterred in April 1910. Thomas was born in Newfoundland, his son Robert George was born in Boston.
Wilkinson, Archer Samuel

Media & Photos

Address

Victoria Dr. at Hull, on garden shed along Vanness Avenue
Kensington Cedar-Cottage

Coordinates

49.25167491008941, -123.06401921824647

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