Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Lost at Sea

One thing nice about immersing oneself in genealogy research is that you meet distant cousins who start to feel like you really know them.  I've had this lovely pleasure by meeting my cousin Shirley (Amirault) Frost who is my 2nd cousin x1 removed.  She has been very generous in sharing stories that she has given me permission to share with you.  Her Uncle Alphe (Amirault), who I'm told had an encyclopedic memory, when he was 93 years old told her this story about his brother and two friends.  Luckily Shirley had the foresight to write this down.  Let me thank Shirley and here is Alphe's story:  

Notes written by Shirley (Amirault) Frost (written about 2007)
As told by Alphe Amirault, aged 93
Retired L’Aurore Credit Union Manager and Co-op Fish Plant

Lost at Sea
“I’ve watched the sun go down. On the very last it travels faster. Sometimes, according to where you are, it’s a dazzling thing, then it hides behind the earth, like a hill on the other side.  One never knows when they’ll reach that other side, you know.” Alphe T. Amirault

April 13, 1926

“I remember that day very well. I was 12 years old. It was just after the winter ice break-up. A northwest wind had breezed up after dinner, but it was fine and cool in the late afternoon.

I was in school. We had Catherine Belliveau (old maid) as the school teacher; she was smart, plain looking, a hard worker, and she had all of us kids under control because she was so strict.  One of the kids was Lawrence Isaar (d’Entremont); he was sitting on the western side of the school where he could look out the window across the harbour to West Pubnico. He saw three boys, Donald (Amirault) (Alphe's brother) and brothers Leslie and Bertie (d’Entremont) climb into a dory, leave the wharf and head across the harbour toward the island about half a mile away. Lawrence had a rather long neck; he was more interested in watching the boys than in his schoolwork.  While watching the boys in the dory, he noticed something was going wrong, he could see something shiny in the water, like a dory bottom up. He said to the teacher;”I think the boat is upset!” She dismissed the class right away. The boys ran to get help. There were three big strong men, Zik, (d’Entremont) Albert and Alfred Bill Paul (Amirault) cutting wood in Bert’s yard. They rushed to the wharf, grabbed a dory and headed out as fast as they could. They could see two people clinging to the boat; but they knew three people had left the wharf. They picked up Leslie and Donald, but there was no sign of Bertie. The water was very cold; the harbour had been frozen all winter. They knew Bertie couldn’t swim...

They brought the two survivors to shore, and helped them walk to Catherine Belliveau’s home to warm them up. Leslie died there, he was so cold, his heart was played out. It was quite a walk up the station road to the house, and they were wet, frozen, could barely walk at all. It was a big shock because Leslie had said, “If I get warm, I’ll be alright.”

Donald must have been in better shape; he survived. They never told him Leslie died. They came and told Mother (Shirley's grandmother Albertine Amirault) the boys got into trouble, that Donald was ok, but Leslie had died. She was in shock and said she supposed Donald would die too. But he was ok.

They got Leslie and Bertie’s father to come to Catherine Belliveau’s home and when he came they told him that Leslie had died. But they didn’t tell him that they couldn’t find Bertie. He went home to tell his wife Annie that Leslie had died but someone else had already told her about Bertie. When he got home he asked her “Ou est Bertie?” (Where is Bertie?”) She replied “Il est au fond de la mer” (He is at the bottom of the harbour).  He was shocked but he had to tell her about Leslie.

It was a very sad time for all of the community. They never found Bertie’s body for two months.  He was found in June on the west side by boys out clam digging. He had been floating in the water for two months. He was buried at the place we call “L’Isle Grave” on the west side of the harbour.”

Again - Thank you Shirley.  Sharing stories is like keeping our loved ones and ancestors alive in our hearts!

Alphe T. Amirault - b. 1914  d. 2013
Donald A. Amirault - b. 1908  d. 1999

Shirley is still very much alive and lives in Pubnico, NS with her husband Jim.

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