Posts tagged #engineer

David & James Lyttle (Little)


James T. Lyttle: b. 1867 d. 11 November 1898

David Lyttle: b. 1875 d. 3 April 1905

Cemetery Location:

James T. Lyttle: Block C, Row 6, Plot 24

David Lyttle: Block C, Row 6, Plot 30


On 10 November 1898, engineer James Lyttle suffered severe injuries in a freight train accident, 1½ miles east of Shuswap, British Columbia. He died the following day.

The explosion of the engine boiler, discovered about 20 feet from the overturned cars, was most likely the cause of the incident, which also killed brakeman A. E. Reid and injured one other crewmember.

The sympathy of the community was evident in the large numbers who attended the funerals of Lyttle and Reid. Covering the funerals of both men, the Herald newspaper wrote, “While railroading has its certain dangers, we are apt to forget that much of the loss of life and maiming of good men is largely unnecessary; that it is due to the neglect and indifference on the part of corporations.”

At the time of his death, James had a wife, Isabella J. Lyttle, and a young son, Frederick. Another son, James, had died at the age of one year, just a few months prior to his father's death.

Sadly, seven years later, James’s brother David Lyttle was also killed in a CPR accident, six miles from Golden. The freight train ran into a rockslide and was derailed, the locomotive and four cars going over the embankment into the Kicking Horse River below. Engineer Lyttle was caught under the wrecked engine and killed instantly, while Fireman Dickey had an arm and two legs broken (he later died in Golden hospital). The rock that had caused the accident was so large that it had to be blasted out afterwards.

David was just 30 years old when he died, leaving behind a widow and two young daughters.

Matthew Sainsbury

Dates: b. Portsmouth, England, 17 July 1886 d. July 1928

Cemetery Location: Block E, Row 3, Plot 22


The town of Revelstoke was deeply affected by the news of the death of three of its residents, Matthew Sainsbury (Stanbury), William Clay and Maurice Roger, in an engine explosion in July 1928. The explosion occurred near Glacier, caused by a water shortage in the boiler of the train engine. An incident inquiry did not find the cause of the water shortage, and the engineer had not reported engine defects before the ill-fated train began its journey.

Matthew Sainsbury was born in England in 1892, coming to Canada in his early teens and joining the Canadian Pacific Railway as a wiper in 1920. His entire Canadian Pacific Railway career was served on the Revelstoke Division.

During World War I, Matthew enlisted with the 54th Kootenay Battalion, proceeding overseas with one of the first drafts from this battalion. He was then transferred to the 7th Battalion, British Columbia Regiment, and served with distinction until the end of the war. Matthew was wounded several times and before the accident had coughed up a fragment of shrapnel that had been embedded in a lung since 1916.

He was married in London, England, in 1917, to Miss Eva Marie Davis and they had four girls: Rita, Donna, Eileen and Joan.

Returning from overseas, Matthew resumed work with CPR as a fireman and at the time his death had recently passed his engineer examinations. He was an exceptionally powerful man and prominent in boxing and wrestling circles.

Matthew was 42, Maurice, 43 and William, 42 years old when their lives were tragically cut short.

George Williamson

George Williamson's last CPR run, 1940.

George Williamson's last CPR run, 1940.

Dates: b. 26 March 1875 d. 15 June 1971

Cemetery Location: Block H, Row 11, Plot 15


George left his hometown Toronto to follow his father, mother and sister west in 1892, finding a job as a wiper for the Canadian Pacific Railway at Donald, British Columbia. At the time, Donald was the thriving mountain divisional headquarters for CPR. (The headquarters were transferred to Revelstoke in 1899.)

In 1897, George was promoted to fireman and in 1900 to engineer, ending his long career as a railroader on 30 March 1940, when he brought engine 2716 and the Toronto Express into Revelstoke.

The highlight of 38 years of service with CPR came in the summer of 1939, when he was selected to pilot the engine of the Royal Train of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, from Revelstoke to Kamloops.

During his career, George was lucky to escape several close calls through Rogers Pass. In the summer of 1898, the engine he was piloting struck an uprooted tree near no. 35 snowshed, tearing the side of the engine’s cab completely away. In another incident, he and other crewmembers narrowly escaped an avalanche while cleaning up the remains of the winter’s snowslides. And in the summer of 1924 or 1925, when George missed a shift due to illness in the family, the train he was meant to be on derailed near Golden, B.C., killing two of his colleagues.

George’s first wife Mamie died in 1936, and his second wife, Violet, in 1966. His only son, William George, died in April 1968.

George died in 1971, aged 96 years. He left behind two daughters, Marie and Margaret, eight grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.