By Mitch MacDonald – The Guardian
CHARLOTTETOWN, PEI – It’s a story of bravery and courage that’s been a source of pride amongst former Alberton resident Peter Ramsay’s descendants for 89 years.
men in 1927 received some long overdue public recognition.
Ramsay was posthumously honoured during the Canadian Red Cross of P.E.I.’s Rescuer Awards on the weekend.
The award was accepted on his behalf by his son Bill Ramsay and daughter Lucy Enman.
“It’s been a little bit in the making, but we’re overjoyed really,” said Bill, who lives in Halifax. “We’re talking 89 years since this happened, in fact we weren’t even around when it happened. But we’re quite honoured to be here today.”
It’s a story that Bill, Lucy and many other members of the family have heard countless times as it was passed down through generations.
In May of 1927, Alberton fishermen Art Wilkie and Jack Mackie were returning home in rough weather when their boat struck a sandbar and capsized.
Bill said his father was travelling ahead of the two and soon noticed that both men had been thrown into the water.
While Ramsay was alone in his own boat, it didn’t stop him from turning around to rescue the two men.
An article in the June 1927 edition of “Island Farmer” said Ramsay was able to maneuver his own boat “at great risk to himself” next to the sandbar and get the two aboard.
With Ramsay never receiving any formal recognition while he was alive, although the two victims’ families reportedly rewarded him with 100 pounds of potatoes, Enman said Saturday’s ceremony was emotional for the family.
“It’s a great thing for my children and grandchildren to be able to see this and know what he did,” said Enman, who travelled from Toronto to attend the ceremony. “It means very much to us.”
Many of Ramsay’s descendants spanning four generations were at the ceremony to celebrate the recognition of the patriarch.
The Red Cross’ Rescuer Awards honour untrained or non-professional rescuers as well as off-duty first responders for actions such as providing first aid, CPR or other assistance that saves or attempts to save lives, treat injury or prevent further injury.
Ramsay was one of three Islanders were recognized for quick thinking and courageous action.
Alberton resident Donnie Bernard and Gordon Sobey, of Searletown, were also honoured during Saturday’s ceremony for live-saving actions.
The awards were presented by Lt-Gov. Frank Lewis, an honorary patron of the Canadian Red Cross in P.E.I.