Death comes in the cold winter night

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Heritage Corner with Pat Crowe

Dec. 8, 1938 – Springhill Record

HL: Andrew McMasters dies of exposure

The weekend was overshadowed by one of the saddest tragedies ever known here, when young Andrew McMasters lost his life by cold and exposure. 

Setting out alone at 9 o’clock Friday morning on a rabbit hunt with a 22 rifle and expecting to return shortly after noon alarm was felt when he had not returned late at night. About 11 o’clock a search party was organized by Chief of Police William Mont. Answering the ominous call of the fire siren about fifty men assembled and set out with mine lamps loaned by the Company.  They broke up into groups. A party of four, Jim McDonald, Rupert Goldrich, Victor Hunter and Arthur Pyke, the two latter having just come off their shift, set out at 12:30. These boys discovered the body of McMasters at 5:20 in the morning. He was lying in deep snow in an open field on Percy Smith’s land, Rodney, about 3 miles from town, and pathetically near shelter.  Death had come in the silence of a winter night.

McDonald, having knowledge of the district was the leader of the little group. About 2 o’clock the boys picked up tracks in the heavy snow in the deep woods. The tracks were without definite direction, leading around in a purposeless way, broken, time after time, where the suffering boy had fallen, and again taking up his heart breaking endeavour, showing an agonizing determination to win through. The tracks led finally through to the clearing and showed where after climbing a fence, he had fallen for the last time. The boys hurried towards him, but life was extinct and his body frozen in about two feet of snow. He was lying with his cap under his cheek, his empty rifle which he had continued to carry lying at his side.

Goldrich went to Mr. Smith’s house and telephoned to Chief Mont at the Town Hall who sounded the alarm that the body had been found. Chief Mont, Officer McDonald and Jim Rushton went out and brought the body to Brown’s Undertaking Room, where it was examined by Dr. H.L. Simpson, who certified that he had died from exposure, and that he had been dead about four hours. Meantime, Mrs. Smith had provided a hot breakfast for the boys of the rescuing party after their cold and exhausting experience.

Andrew McMasters, who was 21 years of age, a son of Henry McMasters, was born in Springhill.  His mother, Miss Nettie Arseneau, a daughter of the late Andrew Arseneau, Springhill, died two years ago. Especially devoted to his mother, her passing was to Andrew, a great loss and grief. Of late he had made his home with his sister and brother-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. William Cormier, Pleasant St. He was of unassuming disposition, a neat, nice boy, well liked by all who knew him; and his passing is a matter of sorrow to many who knew him. In common with most Springhill boys he played baseball and was a star pitcher of the 1937 “Red Sox” Nova Scotia Champions.

Besides his father he is survived by his brothers and sisters, all living in Springhill.

 

HL: Finds cigarettes and matches in No. 2 mine

Burnt matches and cigarette stubs found by Danny Boutilier in No. 2 mine recently caused some stir among officials and miners. The incident was reported to Manager Wm. Campbell who took the matter up with the mine committee urging more care be exercised by the men to see that matches have been removed from their pockets before going down in the mines. 

Superintendant Paul, in an interview with The Record, expressed the opinion that someone had found the matches and cigarettes in his pocket when he entered the mine and was anxious to dispose of them before they were found on him. It has been the practice of men to retire outside the fence after dressing for the mine and smoke while waiting for the trollys and it is thought someone has carelessly stuffed the matches and cigarette butts in his pocket. This practice has since been discontinued. It has been suggested it would be difficult to smoke in the mine without being caught as the presence of tobacco is easily discernible anywhere.

Under the mining law it is customary to search the men entering the mine to be certain they do not carry matches. This rule is being more stringently enforced since the burnt matches and cigarettes have been discovered, although that no man would endanger his own life and hundreds of others by such carelessness where a certain amount of gas is always present.

 

Organizations: Town Hall, Red Sox

Geographic location: Springhill

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