The Story of Duncan McRae

March 12, 1910:

The Story of Duncan McRae:

Our crew consisted of 14 men with J. Soucie in charge.  R. Thomas, one of the crew, was not feeling well and remained in his car at Glacier.

I heard a crack like the noise of a snowslide starting, but the noise of steam from the rotary, the wildness of the storm, which was the most awful I have ever seen in the mountains, and the fact that the snow thrown up by the rotary was taken by the wind and driven over us in blinding sheets, make me feel uncertain about it.

Presently, however, I heard trees cracking above us and knew the worst – that we were in the wake of a big slide coming down upon us.  I shouted “Everybody look out.”  I was in a pit about six feet deep and climbed out to run, but the fresh, soft and deep snow made running impossible.  No sooner had I got out than the wind of the slide caught me and pushed me on.

I felt it was all over with us, but I kept my feet going as the wind rushed me along.  The sensation was as if I was walking on water.  I was landed on top of the snow shed on the old track.  Soucie had a lighted lamp in his hand when the slide came down and he stuck to his lamp which remained alight through the awful moments.  As soon as the shock was over we got together to see who were safe out of the party.  The first man I called for was J. McLennan, who was an old school mate of mine, but we found him missing.

Then we found George Nicholls was missing too.  We looked around, and heard a man calling for help.  We found this was LeChance, foreman of the rotary, who had been picked up by the wind of the slide and carried on top of the showshed.  We attended to him and then looked around, but could not see another man, or hear any more calls for help.  I then remarked, ‘there must be a lot of men in there,’ but we had lost our shovels and tools and were helpless to do anything till tools could be got.”

John Anderson, Roadmaster of the Revelstoke end of the Mountain and Shuswap Division, resigned.  “Few men knew the mountains better than he, having had long experience, first on the section work, and then as road master both at Field and Revelstoke.  Losing a brother in the sad accident at Rogers Pass, and with the awful loss of life in work under his direction he wants no more to do with such responsibility and danger