The Victoria Experience

The Complete Guide to Victoria, British Columbia

Point Ellice Bridge Disaster

After the collapse of the mid-section of the Point Ellice Bridge, 1896. Photo Source: City of Vancouver Archives. Image:   AM54-S4-: Out P247.1.

After the collapse of the mid-section of the Point Ellice Bridge, 1896. Photo Source: City of Vancouver Archives. Image: AM54-S4-: Out P247.1.

Unbeknownst to most of Victoria's residents is that the Gorge was the scene of allegedly the worst tram disaster in North American history. 

In the 1900s, a tram bridge spanned the waterway between the modern Selkirk trestle and Bay Street bridge. The concrete foundations of one part of the bridge are still visible to this day near the car wrecking yard. 

The fateful year was 1896 when the accident happened. A Royal Navy ship was scheduled to sail by Esquimalt in honour of Queen Victoria's birthday on May 26th that year. Excited patrons rushed to take the tram across the water and the overladen tram toppled into the water destroying the bridge in the process. 

Sadly, of the 143 passengers, 55 men, women and children were killed in the accident. An inquest found the bridge to be poorly maintained and built without following the specification from the original design. 

You can read more about the disaster here