On this day, June 4, 1950 the monkeys were loose in Callander!
The following story was featured in one of our recent newsletters and was written by Don Clysdale.
Art Ranney and Danny Davis were pre-teens enjoying a sunny Sunday afternoon by the Davis docks on Lansdowne Street, when they heard a funny noise, looked up and saw a boxcar flying through the air.
The train carrying the Bernard and Barry Midway from Toronto to Timmins derailed Sunday 4th of June, 1950 at 4:25 in the afternoon by the current Foodland, just south of the Callander train station. The first dozen cars were ok, but the next boxcar was trailing something which caught on the switch for the station yard, and sent the boxcar and the following ones flying. Thirteen boxcars and one passenger car left the rails and were smashed. Strangely, the caboose at the end stayed on the tracks.
One member of the circus cast, Arthur Gagne, 22, of Sudbury, was the only injury when he was hurled from the door of one of the cars. He was taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital in North Bay, and treated for bruises and shock.
The monkeys escaped and happily played on top of the overturned midway cars, but hurried to their keepers when they appeared. During repairs, the animals were taken from the wrecked boxcars. After the wreck, many children in the area were kept inside for fear there were still circus animals on the loose.
Main Street, also Highway 11 at the time, escaped being blocked, but Lansdowne Street (Hwy 94) was completely blocked, cutting off access to Quintland. Oliva Dionne, father of the quintuplet sisters, was trying to get to town, but had to turn back at the wreckage.
Callander Reeve Leonard Wookey was enjoying his Sunday afternoon nap at his Red Line Inn, when he heard the noise and looked out the window to see a boxcar flying towards him. It stopped in the sand 20 feet before the hotel.
About the most unhappy member of the crew was Lee Garridy of Toronto. He was playing poker with six others, and after 15 losses finally had a good hand when the wreck occurred. He was still carrying his cards in his hand as he looked at the wreckage an hour later.
The twisted rides, games and other accoutrements of the midway attracted almost as much attention as they would have in operation.
Repair crews were very busy repairing the hundreds of feet of chewed up rails and railway ties. Rail traffic started going through Callander again at 6:25 the following morning. In the interim, three trains were rerouted through Capreol. The circus was delayed for two weeks until the show was ready to go again.
It was a busy weekend for circus trains, as no fewer than four trains were in the area. The Bernard and Barry Midway was derailed in Callander. The Dailey Brothers show was setting up in Amelia Park in North Bay for its opening show Monday. Grey’s Show went through the city on its way to Sturgeon falls, and finally the Wallace Brother’s bright orange circus train sped on its way to New Liskeard.