Many tragedies involving vehicles have occurred on Canadian roads and highways over the course of the country’s history.
Many tragedies involving vehicles have occurred on Canadian roads and highways over the course of the country’s history. This article discusses some of the most fatal. (See also: Bridge Disasters, Railway Disasters.)
Canada's worst road accident to date was a single-vehicle tragedy at Saint-Joseph-de-la-Rive, Québec on 13 October 1997. A bus descending a steep hill suffered brake failure, missed a curve and toppled into a stony ravine, killing 43 people and injuring five. A similar tragedy had occurred at the same spot in 1974 with 13 deaths.
Previously, the worst bus disaster in Canada occurred near Eastman, Québec, on 4 August 1978. The brakes of a chartered bus failed and it plunged into Lac d'Argent, killing 41 people with physical or mental disabilities. This toll was more than double that of 31 July 1953, when a bus plunged into a canal near Morrisburg, Ontario, drowning 20.
Increasingly, motor vehicle accidents claim multiple victims as large trucks share highways with passenger buses and minibuses. On 28 May 1980, a bus collided with a tanker truck near Swift Current, Saskatchewan, killing 23 Canadian Pacific Railway construction workers.
On 16 July 1993, a pickup truck towing a fuel trailer collided with a minibus near Lac-Bouchette, Québec. The impact and fire killed 19 people.
There were also 19 deaths in an accident near Dorion, Québec, on 7 October 1966. That night, a bus driving teenagers to a dance was hit by a Canadian National Railways freight train. After waiting for a passenger train to go by, the rail guards went up and the bus proceeded. Upon entering the intersection, it was hit by the oncoming CNR train. In addition to the 19 immediate fatalities, another died from injuries in the days following the crash, and at least 20 others were injured.
A CNR freight train colliding with a bus also caused the deaths of 17 high school students on 20 November 1960, in Lamont, Alberta. The students were on their way to school when their bus was hit at a rail crossing.
When a bus collided with an auto-transport truck in Yamachiche, Québec on 30 January 1954, 15 people died. A group of Roman Catholic brothers were travelling not far behind the ill-fated bus, several of whom rushed to the aid of the passengers.
On 8 October 1989, 13 people were killed and 45 injured during a Thanksgiving hayride in Cormier Village, New Brunswick. Gathered for their annual reunion, family members on the open, hay-covered wagon were struck by logs that spilled from a tractor-trailer after the rig slid off a curving hill. Many were pinned under the truck’s cargo.