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Christmas Day Rescue from the ice

Year 1850

Read by Janice Sare – Supporter, Royal Humane Society

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The 25th of December 1850 afforded a scene of a very exciting character. A skiff, containing three men, had crossed from the Island, Kingston, Canada West, and encountered, near the shore at Stuart’s point, a narrow field office, broken up and driven in by a strong southerly wind. Through this the islanders attempted to force their boat; but, after entering a short distance, found them- selves in a position in which they could neither advance nor recede, and one, consequently, full of peril. They could not leave their boat; for the ice, broken up into very small cakes, and agitated by a heavy sea, afforded no footing whatever. They were now about 150 yards from the point. One of the men of the rifles stationed there undertook the dangerous task of going out upon the ice, by means of a couple of boards, and conveying a rope to the boat, depending for his own safety, in some measure, upon the rope itself; but he had not proceeded more than halfway, when the line was either cut by dragging it along the broken surface of the ice, or in some other manner rendered useless for the purpose. Either this man’s strength or courage failed him upon the severance of the rope: he seemed utterly unable to return, and his situation became one of great peril. A few gentlemen succeeded in getting a light punt, and with this Lieut. Moggridge, Royal Engineers, and the serjeant in command at the Tower, attempted to reach the man, but without success. Mr. Moggridge then volunteered to reach the man by means of two planks, and succeeded ; but here afresh difficulty arose, and fears were entertained for both. A snow-storm and darkness had set in. The rifleman had been exposed for upwards of three hours, and but little able, in consequence, to do anything for himself, and he had to be led by a process painfully slow to the shore, if he should succeed in reaching it. After much difficulty, Lieut. Moggridge succeeded in bringing the rifleman to the shore, who was at once taken charge of by his comrades, and properly cared for.

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