Old St. Andrews



Death on the Bar




After Van Horne built his home on Minister's Island the CPR began to promote the place as offering "the novelty once experienced by the Children of Israel—that of going through a passage in the sea which had fallen back on either side." The fate of the pursuing Egyptians was never mentioned, but for those who lived and worked on the Island the fast-rising tides were a perennial concern.

Over the last 100 years many have drowned trying to beat the tide. The first death in the Van Horne era occurred in November of 1905 when two men, George Henderson and George Buhot, the former an employee on the Island, attempted to cross the bar while the tide was rising over it. They had done this before, when the tide was even higher, but this time a skittish horse, alarmed by the rising water, foundered out into a deep gully, causing the two men to abandon their carriage. Henderson was carried into deep water and was later found washed up in a nearby weir, while Buhot, resuscitated by Island employees who had been watching events from the shore, barely escaped with his life.

The fall of 1907 provided the locals with a number of thrilling near-death stories courtesy of the Minister's Island bar. On the same October day that Miss Addie Van Horne fell overboard from the "Covenhoven" and had to be towed to shore, Ms. Beatrice Andrews, the daughter of Sir William's neighbour Edwin Andrews, came within a horse's whisker of losing her life. Though experienced crossing the bar, Ms. Andrews did not take into account the possible panic of the horse she was driving. She started over as the tide was lowering, as she had done many times before, but this time her horse stepped into a hole and panicked, stumbling out into deeper water. Ms. Andrews got out to rectify matters when the horse panicked again and plunged away, leaving her unprotected against the swiftly flowing currents, which swept her out into the channel. Her sister had been watching from an upstairs window and summoned her father but by the time Mr. Andrews got his boat to where his daughter had last been seen, he found her floating unconscious just beneath the surface. Fortunately for Beatrice, the prompt attentions of her father and Dr. Gove managed to bring her back to life.

Two weeks later there was another near fatality. Eugene Worrell and Frank Miller decided to cross the bar from the Island to the shore when the tide was on the flood, ignoring the shouted warnings of James Henderson, whose brother George had died there two years before. Once again, the horse was the unpredictable variable in the equation. Falling into a hole, the carriage overturned and the two men bailed out. Miller was kicked in the head and chest by the horse while clinging to it, and by the time help arrived both men were almost completely exhausted by their efforts to keep a grip on the carriage. The horse was drowned by the waves and was later towed to shore, still attached to its carriage. The Beacon provided a fitting moral to this story when it noted that to attempt the bar when the tide was on the ebb was dangerous enough, but to attempt it when it was on the flood was courting death.

The summer of 1910 saw Arthur Irwin, deck-hand on the "Covenhoven," fall overboard and drown, and a large funeral at Chamcook Church at which Sir William himself was present. It also saw the near-drowning of Andrew Reed, Sir William's second coachman, who was delayed in getting the mail and attempted to cross the bar to the Island while the tide was on the flood. Once again, the horse stumbled in the rising water, broke the whiffle tree and plunged out into deep water, dragging Reed behind him. The horse got free somehow and swam to shore, but Reed was left clinging to a nearby tide pole and was only rescued at the last minute by some men on the Island who had been watching the event.

Horses did not respect the bar any more than humans. In the summer of 1912 a horse belonging to Acheson Hartford which was tied to a barn at Minister's Island broke its leash and started for home while the tide was on the flood. The heavy weight of the carriage in the deep water pulled the animal down and it was drowned.

A double tragedy took place in August of 1917 as Hugh McQuoid, a farmhand on the Minister's Island estate, accompanied by Annie Murphy, housemaid, attempted to cross the bar one night on their way back from a dance in town. This against the warnings of their friends, but this time no one was around to help. It is not certain exactly what happened that night, but the next day a fisherman found the dead horse still attached to its carriage entangled in his weir, and in a nearby cove the body of Mr. McQuoid, part of the horse's harness still in his hands, was discovered as well. It was surmised that he had gotten out in the water and was swept away from the carriage. Annie Murphy's body was never recovered.

The summer of 1954 saw a double drowning. Two men on a short vacation—Daryl Morton, 24, of Sussex, N.B., a lineman with the New Brunswick Telephone Company; and Albert Boutilier, 30, of Glace Bay, Nova Scotia, a gunner with the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery Regiment at Lake Utopia—had their car swamped by the rising tide and were drowned attempting to get to shore. Their vehicle was found abandoned on the bar, and some eight hours later the men themselves were found floating not far from shore.

Jane Hossler remembered that when her family owned the Island they would frequently warn tourists picking mussels or clams on the bar of the danger they faced if they were not careful of the tide. "You know folks it's fine for you to dig mussels or clams or go beachcombing or what have you, but when this tide starts coming in, it comes in really fast, and if you get stuck or have car problems, you're going to get swept away, and it's mighty cold water." In October of 2004 two students at the local community college, returning at night from Minister's Island, attempted to beat the tide. Leaving their car on the Island and heading towards a light on shore, but not realizing that the bar took a turn to the left, they wandered out into deep water and 21-year-old Joshua Brown of Oromocto was drowned. His body was discovered on the shore of the Island several weeks later.