New sign commemorates Canoe River tragedy

Dianne St. Jean
Unveiling of the new commemorative sign.
Unveiling of the new commemorative sign.
Dianne St. Jean photo

After the Community BBQ at Valemount dignitaries, including members of the Royal Canadian Legion Br. 266, gathered on a roadside turnout on Highway 5 south to unveil a new commemorative sign.

The sign commemorates the Canoe River Tragedy that happened on Nov. 21, 1950, when a westbound train carrying Canadian troops en route to the Korean War collided with an eastbound train near Canoe River.

Twenty-one people died, 17 of which were soldiers.

The sign states that a telegraph operator was charged with manslaughter for the miscommunication but was successfully defended by John Diefenbaker who later became Prime Minister in 1957. Ironically, Mount John G. Diefenbaker on the Premier Range can be seen directly across the highway from the sign.

Each year the spot is visited by Korean nationals to show their respect and gratitude for Canada’s sacrifice in the Korean War.

New sign commemorates Canoe River tragedy
Dianne St. Jean photo

From left to right: Former and current RCL President Les Dammann and Pete Pearson, MLA Shirley Bond, Valemount Mayor Jeannette Townsend, RDFFG Area H representative Dannielle Alan, RDFFG Chair Art Kaehn, Sgt. Bob Dean, and Cst. Tyler Jensen, RCMP Valemount Detachment.