Section VNG, Lot 76
Just before daybreak on January 2, 1884, a young Parkdale resident named Goodwood was walking home from the Humber River through a snowstorm when he spotted the headlight of a Grand Trunk Railway freight train, barrelling eastbound down the grade at thirty miles an hour. From the other direction, Goodwood saw a suburban commuter train charting its leisurely path westward, approaching a point where a cluster of trees turned the track’s gentle curve around the southern edge of High Park into a blind corner. Realizing there would be a fearful collision on the single track, Goodwood ran to safety a short distance from the track. As the suburban train passed him, The Globe recounted, “He saw many of the men in the foremost car laughing and talking pleasantly together.” They were on their way to work at the Toronto Bolt and Iron Works, a foundry near the east bank of the Humber. With the locomotives but twenty yards apart from a head-on collision—each sounding its whistle in futile warning—Goodwood closed his eyes in fright. In a thunderous crash, the freight’s heavier locomotive—carrying the momentum of a tender fully laden with coal and water—plowed through the cab of the suburban’s locomotive, climbing onto the latter’s trucks and pushing the suburban’s boiler into the first passenger car. Escaping steam from the bursting boiler melted the drifts of snow around the crash and painfully scalded those passengers trapped inside. There were forty-three men and boys aboard. Twenty-nine men were killed in total, fifteen instantly. George Prescott was one of them. Most of the workers who died were being transported on an unscheduled freight train, to the Ontario Bolt Works in Swansea, Ontario.