Woman: Since Thursday morning the hours of the days have been filled with funerals. The last of them took place today. We went to see the remains of some friends of ours, who were among the victims. Mr. and Mrs. Carmichael. It was an awfully sad sight, to see them both lying dead.
Man: I went to the office in the morning, and was joined by the Newcome boys, and got home about 12. We started off to see the sham baclum at McCauley’s plains, and decided not to take the tram on account of the crowd, and so we walked. Soon after we heard of the disaster…
Woman: Tuesday May 26th, 1896. Today is the last day of the Queen’s birthday celebration. They’ve had the usual round of pleasures; footraces, horseraces, bicycle races, yacht races, regattas and were to close with a military review and sham fight at Fort McCauley. Nearly all the city intended to be there. The streetcars were crowded beyond their capacity, while hundreds of others preferred walking or driving, and nearly all crossing by the Point Ellice Bridge.
Man: When the big car got on the span some thirty or forty feet something snapped and the car dropped about 18 inches, and then ran on for about 15 feet. There came another cracking sound, and the whole thing went down, the car canting to the right. The motorman leaned over to see what was the matter. He never looked up again. The whole roadbed gave way, and in the fall he was struck on the head by timbers and irons from the tress.
Woman: The people on the banks swarmed to the spot with boats, and rescued a great many. I’m so thankful none of us were on board. I was very frightened for a while, because I didn’t know where Howard and Fred were, but they were alright. Fred had gone over by boat and Howard had started to go by that car, but changed his mind. Annie and Howard were able to help a little, but they were too late to be of much use. Over 50 bodies were brought up and laid in Captain Grant’s garden where the people worked desperately trying to resuscitate them. But they were successful with only three. I think they didn’t work nearly long enough; they gave most of them up inside of an hour.
Man: Wednesday, May 27th. Desolation in the city. Coroner’s inquest proceeding.
Lawyer: Mr. Bell, you have read the specifications?
Mr. Bell: Yes.
Lawyer: And is that bridge built according to the specifications?
Mr. Bell: No, it is not.
Woman: The trustees said orders to close all of the schools today, an awful gloom seems over everything. We had a telegram from Will wanting to know if we were all safe. How quickly the news must have gone to New York.
Lawyer: How long, Mr. Bell, have streetcars been running in this city?
Mr. Bell: For six years, sir.
Lawyer: Since 1890. From your calculations, was that bridge fit to carry those cars? 12 tonne cars?
Mr. Bell: No sir, not nearly fit.
Lawyer: Do you think a 10 tonne car would be about the limit of safety?
Mr. Bell: I wouldn’t care to put any more on it, sir.
Lawyer: What we want to get at, Mr. Bell, is simply this: what will the floor system safely carry? We have arrived at the conclusion that it had 21 tonnes on it when it went down.
Woman: One of our girls, Eliza Woodhill, was in the car. Fortunately she can swim. Flossie Jackson was with her, and they saw three small children deserted in the panic. Eliza said she couldn’t bear to leave them, so she picked up two, while Flossie took the third. Eliza managed to get out, she doesn’t know how, but thinks it was through the window, and she and the two little ones were picked up and saved. But Flossie and the third child were drowned. Many of the mothers threw their babies out the windows to be picked up by the boats, but were drowned themselves.
Lawyer: Do you know if it is a common method, the one they have in this bridge?
Mr. Bell: I’ve never seen it before sir. I would not allow a bridge to be built with the laterals to be put in that way. I would not consider it to be safe.
Lawyer: Are there any other points in the bridge that you consider defective?
Mr. Bell: Well I don’t think generally that the details are well carried out sir. I think they’re cheap. I do not believe that for the money that that bridge has been reported to cost, that you call build a bridge 600 feet long to be safe, for $10,000.
Woman: One would think, that in a case like this, selfishness would give place entirely to a heartfelt sympathy. And yet I’ve heard some reliable stories that prove otherwise. When the people were rescued from the water, dry blankets were necessary to wrap them in. Captain Grant’s people gave theirs, as well as all available clothing, and poor neighbors offered theirs, even taking them off their beds. The family of our premier, Mr. Turner, lives near the place, and they were asked for some, but sent back the astonishing answer that they couldn’t spare any. And they wouldn’t lend any clothing unless the Grants would promise to go security for its safe return. The Grants of course refused.
Lawyer: Gentlemen of the jury, you will have to consider whether the bridge was maintained to the state of safety. I don’t think that need occupy your attention for very long, every witness that we have had has been practically unanimous on it. Not only that, you have examined the bridge yourselves and found that the bridge was completely rotten. There is no doubt about it: the bridge has been utterly neglected from the time it was built nearly eleven years ago.
Priest: We do well to grant our special thanks today, for our own preservation. But it is no selfish joy that fills our hearts. We weep with them who weep: how can we help it? But one half of this congregation have cause to commemorate a great deliverance; why this selection, God only knows. Let us see in this visitation a call, not only to individual repentance, but to honest endeavors to purify our city of it by all means. But you, dear afflicted friends of their own kin, may the Lord abundantly comfort you, and enable you to say, “the Lord gave, and the Lord taketh away.” Blessed be the name of the Lord.
Man: Ultimate determination of liability for the accident was laid on the shoulders of the privy council. Lord Hallsburry found the corporation of the City of Victoria guilty due to negligence, and absolved the Consolidated Railroad Company, owners of the streetcar, from any responsibility. Subsequent litigation required the city to settle damages and costs, amounting to more than $150,000. The total number of dead was fixed at 55.