On the evening of May 15, 1956, a CF 100 military jet crashed into the Villa St. Louis Convent, an Orleans based rest home run by the Grey Nun’s of the Cross. It was one of the worst air disasters in the history of the city.
That evening, a southbound transport plane reached Ottawa ahead of its flight plan, and showed up on radar as an unidentified plane. A jet from the Uplands Air Force Base had been dispatched to identify and intercept the plane. A second CF 100 was then dispatched to complete the same type of interception. One of the planes landed; the other indicated that it would continue flying for a little while in order to burn off fuel. This was the last communication received from the aircraft.
The Sisters of Villa St. Louis were getting ready for bed when the plane crashed through the chapel of the convent. The building quickly caught fire and the jet fuel and munitions on board the plane exploded. Neighbours rushed to help. 25 people made it to safety, but sadly 11 nuns, a priest, a servant, and both crew members of the plane were killed.
An investigation began the following day. The pilots had given no indication that they were in trouble, so the investigation looked at why they did not try to eject themselves. Although the investigation continued, it became clear that the cause of the wreck would never be known.
Funeral services were held at the Notre Dame Basilica on May 19, 1956. The Royal Canadian Air Force took responsibility for cleaning up the crash site.
Title/Description: Jet crash at Villa Saint-Louis Convent in Orleans. The crash was one of the worst air disasters to occur in the Ottawa area, killing eleven nuns, a priest, a servant, and both crew members of the plane.
Photographer: Cliff Buckman, Andy Andrews, Ernie McNulty.
Date: May 15,1956.
Credit: Andrews-Newton Photographers Fonds / City of Ottawa Archives / MG393-AN-043317-005.
Copyright: City of Ottawa Archives.