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The Explosion

Reports of the carnage caused by an explosion in Car 1586 on the Kettle Valley Line brought immediate action from police, government and the Canadian Pacific Railway. But the location of the blast posed a problem. It was near Farron, a minor station deep in the Monashee Mountains that was used mainly for crew and equipment changes. No road led to the site, so Doukhobors, police, CPR officials and Canadian government explosives experts rushed to the scene by rail, on special trains or using small hand cars. Press accounts relied upon interviews with witnesses, including injured people, some of whom were taken west to Grand Forks, others east to Nelson. At Grand Forks a coroner’s inquest was hastily assembled on the evening of October 29, just 19 hours after the explosion. There the deaths of Peter Verigin, John McKie, Haakum Singh and Peter J. Campbell were investigated. At Nelson, an inquest into the deaths of Harry Bishop, Neil Murray and Mary Strelaeff began on November 1 and continued to November 5. (Two of the explosion’s victims did not die immediately, and so their deaths were not the subject of an inquest.) These inquests and the reports of the police who attended at the scene and participated in the inquests constitute the main body of evidence about what happened. In this section you’ll find documentary evidence news articles, police reports and information from the inquests. There’s also a cast of characters who were involved and, in addition, 3-D reconstructions of the railroad train and Car 1586. The reconstructions were created specially for this site, and are built from the written evidence that you have access to. Our hope is that they will help you to visualize the scene and thus understand it better.