Over 120 years ago the Point Ellice Bridge, commonly known as the Bay Street Bridge, collapsed with a street car full of people on it. More than 50 people died in the wreck turning the lawns of the Point Ellice House into a makeshift morgue. (City of Victoria Archives)

123 years ago: Bay Street Bridge collapses and kills more than 50 people

Point Ellice house became a makeshift morgue

More than 120 years ago the Point Ellice Bridge, commonly known as the Bay Street Bridge, was a mess and now, in 2019 the bridge is still a mess.

On May 26, 1896 a streetcar crowded with 143 people crashed through the Point Ellice Bridge into the Gorge waterway. More than 50 people died in the crash, making it one of the worst accidents in Canadian transit history according to the Royal B.C. Museum.

READ ALSO: City says traffic pattern on Bay Street Bridge will stay as is until October

Passengers were headed towards Macaulay Point Park in Esquimalt for Queen Victoria’s birthday celebrations, but they never made it.

According to the Curious podcast put on by the Museum, the street car fell onto it’s right side into the water so those seated on the right side or in the middle didn’t have a chance.

READ ALSO: Five-month bridge closure poses early impacts on drivers during rush hour

The podcast describes how Point Ellice house became a makeshift morgue, laying out the bodies of those who died in the crash.

Now, 123 years later the bridge is causing headaches but no more death, hopefully, with the eastbound lane closed for the next five months as the restoration takes place.


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