Trail dedicated to bus crash victims
Shelley Riel, Shirley Cunningham died when train hit bus
Fifty years ago may be a distant memory for many, but not Sharon Riel, whose 18-year-old sister Shelley was one of two young women killed in a tragic school bus crash in Selwyn Township that left a community in mourning on Nov. 21, 1968.
“For me, it feels just like yesterday,” the Peterborough resident said after more than 50 people bundled up Tuesday afternoon for the grand opening and dedication of the Andrew Trail on Eastman Road just north of Lily Lake Road.
The walking route, which connects two subdivisions and will eventually connect with The Great Trail (formerly known as the Trans Canada Trail) through the Lily Lake subdivision, was dedicated to Shelley Riel and Shirley Cunningham, 13.
The event marked the 50th anniversary of their deaths. A school bus carrying 48 children from Eastwood, Lily Lake and Stockdale roads, among other locations, was struck by a train on Stockdale Road, just west of Andrew Trail.
Many original Eastwood residents had children on the bus, some who suffered permanent disabilities, but no families were more impacted than the Cunningham and Riel families, Selwyn Mayor Mary Smith said before a moment of silence.
The short unopened road allowance has been an informal walking route between Eastwood and Patricia Crescent for many
years, she pointed out.
It could be a muddy mess at times and neighbours eventually asked the township to work on it, Smith said, explaining how the route fits into Selwyn’s trails master plan.
The township’s trails advisory committee has worked in recent years to finish the project and became aware of the tragedy, she explained.
Smith thanked those who made the dedication possible, including the Hamilton family for providing historical information about the Veterans Land Assembly and the bus crash. “We are looking forward to people walking this trail and enjoying it for years to come.”
The brief dedication culminated with committee chairperson Yvonne Spradbrow reading out the words on the plaque, which describes how the tragedy had a “profound impact on the community,” and unveiling the fixture.
Longtime Selwyn Coun. Donna Ballantyne, who recalled the first request to level the trail and install barriers to prevent ATVs from tearing up the path nearly a decade ago, said the girls won’t be forgotten thanks to the installation.
Sharon agreed it is a nice gesture to honour the girls’ memories. “I think it is a nice remembrance. The family will never forget.”
Temporary blocks installed to block ATVs will be replaced with permanent ones in the spring, Selwyn manager of recreation services Mike Richardson said.
NOTES: Andrew Trail is located between 249 and 257 Eastman Rd.… A plaque will also be installed on Patricia Crescent later.
Selwyn Township trail advisory committee chairwoman Yvonne Spradbrow unveils a plaque during a grand opening and dedication of Andrew Trail on Eastman Road just north of the city on Tuesday afternoon. The route connects two subdivisions and will eventually connect to The Great Trail, formerly known as the Trans Canada Trail.
A plaque dedicated to two young women who died in a nearby school bus accident on Nov. 21, 1968 was unveiled during a grand-opening Andrew Trail on Eastman Road just north of the city on Tuesday