I came across this story on the Facebook site, Our Miramichi Heritage Photos. It is a gathering of many people, the outcome was not so grand....the circus left town on a train bound for a derailment between Newcastle to Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada.
It was July of 1930, and the
5-ring Al G. Barnes Circus was touring eastern Canada. They had finished their
Newcastle performance and had loaded the gear back onto the circus train. That
was early in the morning of Sunday, July 20th, and their next performance was
to be in Charlottetown. After Charlottetown, they were to stop in Moncton and
then continue with stops in Nova Scotia.
It was 4:25 AM before the train pulled out. There was a locomotive and tender
followed by ten cars for the animals. These were followed by eleven flat cars
and gondolas and eight passenger cars. Finally there was the caboose. Newspaper
reports indicated that there were over 700 people on the train. This seems
unlikely, but the number was certainly large.
The departure from Newcastle had been delayed, and the circus employees tried
to get some sleep. It had been a warm day and the passenger cars were
sweltering, so several of the crew decided to sleep on the flat cars and
The train was passing through Canaan Station about fourteen miles northwest of
Moncton when it derailed at 6:55 AM. It was indicated in early newspaper
reports that the train had hit a broken rail at 30 m.p.h., but later they said
that there had been a broken arch-bar on one of the cars. Railway cars no
longer have arch bars, which was a steel frame holding the four-wheel
assemblies together at each end of the car. It was the eighteenth car, one of
the flats or gondolas, which first left the track. Three passenger cars at the
rear end of the train and the animal cars at the head end also derailed, but
many of the others were sent off the track. Some of these remained upright, but
a good number of others were totally destroyed.
A relief train was sent out from Moncton and many citizens also attended the
scene. The injured were taken to the hospital and the dead were removed from
the wreckage. Four or five people had died and another seventeen or eighteen
were injured. Those who had been sleeping on the open cars had been in special
The list of dead was reported differently in the newspapers. One reported the
dead to be Los Angeles prop men Albert Johnson and Frank Finnegan, a waiter
named James McFarland believed to be from Toronto, James A. Stephenson of
Fredericton, and an unidentified hobo; five in total. Another mentioned
Johnson, Finnegan and McFarland (believed to be from Montreal) as circus
employees, plus a James Arthur Stephens possibly of Fredericton; four only.
Stephens or Stephenson may therefore have been the hobo, and it seems that the
count of four dead is correct.
The families of Albert Johnston and James McFarland could not be located, and
they were buried in the Elmwood Cemetery in Moncton on July 24, 1930, Rev. S.J.
MacArthur officiating. There was a large funeral procession from the Tuttle
Brothers Funeral Chapel with the mayor and other dignitaries in attendance.
The damaged circus equipment was taken to the Fair Grounds in Moncton for
sorting and repairs, where possible. The Charlottetown show was cancelled, but
a show was put on in Moncton and the circus then proceeded to Nova Scotia. ·
The following are three pictures depicting the aftermath of the accident:
To keep on track and see more crowds (for various reasons) go to
I found a few portraits on the walls in some of these pictures I found in "Our Miramichi Heritage Photos" of the Old Manse Library. It is the boyhood home of Max Aitken who became Lord Beaverbrook. He was raised here in Newcastle, New Brunswick, Canada. His father was a Presbyterian minister, thus, the name Old Manse. This grand home was turned into a library.
We are now called the city of Miramichi after the salmon rich river, Miramichi River. I remember going to this library quite a lot when I was a little girl. We lived in a little bungalow, so I thought
it was just grand to be able to go up and down stairs. It is here that I
got my love of books. I can also remember the distinct smell of
furniture polish. Funny how pictures can take you right back.....
Well, that was my walk down memory lane, you can take a walk down many memory lanes by going to www.sepiasaturday.blogspot.com Have a great week fellow sepians!! Rosie.