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1963: MV Abegweit Crew Rescues Summerside Boy from Ice Cake

Original Article by Allan MacRae

*Capt. Kean, former resident of Cape Tormentine, NB


“Sixteen-year-old Kenneth Blacquiere was safely home with his family in Summerside last night, 9 January 1963, thanks largely to the seafaring skill of Capt. Gideon Kean of the CNR ferry ‘Abegweit’. Kenneth spent eight terrifying hours adrift on an ice-pan off Summerside and was picked up by the Abegweit as the ice on which he was floating was breaking-up.” “The Guardian,” 10 January 1963.”

“Kenneth and another friend had gone smelt fishing from a shack on ice in Summerside harbour Tuesday evening, January 8th; suddenly the ice on which the shack was located broke adrift. The other boy, George Paynter reached safety. But Kenneth disappeared in the darkness.”


“When the searchers on the waterfront of Summerside were in a quandary as to what to do next, after a search of harbour waters failed to locate the missing boy, Edgar Cannon suggested that the ‘MV Abegweit’ be sent up the strait to search. The ‘Abegweit’ was called in from her berth at Borden at 2:16 am Wednesday. Capt. Kean says: ‘I worked out where I thought he would be.’ We sailed full speed to a point off Sea Cow Head, near Summerside. It was dark and foggy, and there was some snow. The radar set picked up the shack while we were two miles away.”


Breaking Up Fast

“By now the shack was two and a half miles off-shore, and the ice was breaking-up fast. Two other shacks on the ice had already tipped over, and it would not have been very long before the one Kenneth was in would have gone, too. He started to run toward us, but the second mate, Ken Meriam, shouted to him to stay where he was. That was the safest thing to do. We turned around and approached stern first. We had to go very carefully not to break the small piece of ice-it was only 20 ft square and was going to pieces fast.”


“The boy was in good spirits. He must have nerves of steel, because he knew that the piece of ice he was on could not last much longer. We threw him a lifebuoy, and he was able to walk up a ladder on the fantail by himself. We gave him a hot meal straight away, but he did not seem much affected by the ordeal. On board the ‘Abegweit’ after the rescue, Kenneth Blacquiere said: ‘I sure had some anxious moments-I was sure worried by times-I felt okay because I had the smelt shack for shelter and I didn’t get too wet-I guess I’m pretty lucky.”


Word of Hope

“The first word of hope, which was also the much-awaited news of the safe recovery of the young lad, came to shore shortly after 3:30 am when the ‘Abbie’ radioed to an RCMP car on the scene that they had picked-up the lad. The actual pick-up came at 3:32 am, just one hour and 16 minutes after the ferry had left Borden. The sigh of relief that went up from the large throng gathered around the RCMP radio car was clearly audible. Many had obviously given up hope of the youth’s rescue. Capt. Kean said: ‘I’m tickled to death that we rescued the boy…he might have been dead…another half hour could have been the end.”


All the Heroes

“Hero of the day, at least heroes, would seem to be the crew of the ‘Abegweit’, but every one that assisted in sending out search parties are equally deserving of praise for the recovery, and young Kenny Blacquiere can look back on it now as a bad dream, although he probably learned a lesson in its process.”



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