Remembering local Almonte Scouts — Jack Lyons and Harold McGrath

Remembering local Almonte Scouts — Jack Lyons and Harold McGrath

Almonte Gazette May 1950

The Mississippi River once again exacted its grim toll, when two care-free boys, Jack Lyons age 15 and Harold McGrath, age 14 drowned in its icy waters about 4.30 p.m. on Saturday. Both were members of a Boy Scout patrol which had gone up the river to Andrews’ Point where they planned to spend the night. 

The purpose of the trip was to try tests for proficiency badges. In the group were Assistant Scoutmaster Peter Griffin; Patrol Leader, John Graham; Troop Leader, Donald Pink; Patrol Leader, Billy Ritchie, and Scouts Jerry Sinett, Lenis Davey, Jack Lyons and Harold McGrath. 

About 4.30, the boys entered an aluminum canoe and crossed the river up stream. They were soon lost to sight and there was no other boat at the camp a t the time. Both boys were thoroughly familiar with the river but when they did not return for supper at 7 p.m., concern was felt for their safety. A little later, John Graham returned to camp in a skiff with an outboard motor and he and Mr. Griffin set out to search the upper river. 

They found the empty canoe at the second inlet and realized that the boys were lost. O.P.C. Donald Osborne was notified by telephone at 9 p.m. and at 9.10 the fire siren sounded and 15 boats carrying some 50 men and boys started up river. The search went on all night and at 7.55, Sunday morning, the bodies were found a few feet apart and about 60 feet from shore about half a mile above camp. 

O.P.C. Scott of Perth was in charge of the dragging operations. On hand when the bodies were found was John Lyons, father of Jack Lyons and he assisted in the hardest task that he will probably ever have to do—that of helping to lift the lifeless body of his son into the boat. Harold McGrath, son of Mr. and Mrs. Thosnas McGrath, was 15 years of age. He joined the Scouts when they were re-formed in January, 1948. He passed the tenderfoot test in February, 1948 and received his second class badge in December, 1949. He also received his two years’ service star at the Scout birthday party in January, 1950. 

He was appointed second in command of the Eagle Patrol in October, 1949. Besides his parents, he is survived by two brothers, Harvey and Merville; two sisters, Dorothy and Ethel, all at home. John Francis (Jack) Lyons, son of Mr. and Mrs. John H. Lyons was 14 years of age. He joined the Scouts in the fall of 1949, passing his tenderfoot test in December. He also received his badges and certificates at the birthday party.

He is survived by his parents, two brothers, Patrick of Toronto and Bernard at home; five sisters, Joan, Doreen, Nora, Dora and Lorraine, all at home. Funerals Same Day Attended by large numbers o£ sorrowing friends and relatives, the funeral of John Francis Lyons was held from his late home on Water Street on Tuesday morning at 8.45 to St. Mary’s Church for Requiem High Mass at 9 -a.m. Rev. Canon J. Cunningham officiated.

Fifteen members of the First Almonte Scout Troop, under Scoutmaster A. E. Perfitt and Assistant Scoutmaster Peter Griffin, attended as a guard of honor. The pall-bearers were: Desmond Miller, Wilbert Barr, Bernard O’Neill, Claude Miron, Michael McAuliffe, Wm. Proctor, of Almonte, and Leo McIntyre and Edward Burns of Carleton Place

Interment was in St. Mary’s Cemetery. The funeral of William Harold McGrath was held on Tuesday afternoon at 2.30 p.m. from his parents’ home on Ottawa Street. Service was conducted at 2 p.m. by Rev. H. L. Morrison of Trinity United Church. The large attendance at the service and the lengthy cortege were evidence of the sympathy extended to the bereaved parents and family. The Boy Scouts and Grade VI pupils of the Public School marched in the procession. The pall-bearers were: Claude Miron, John Graham, Desmond Houston, Leo McIntyre, Wm. Proctor and Len Sonnenburg. Many Floral Tributes Among the floral tributes were wreaths from Teachers and pupils of Grade 6, Almonte Public School; Almonte Branch Canadian Legion, No. 240; Almonte Fire Brigade; 1st Almonte Boy Scout Troop; Producers Dairy, Local \o . 12, Almonte; International Operating Engineers, Local No. 869, Ottawa; Producers Dairy Limited and N. Carrie; U.T.W.A., Local No. 104, Almonte; Pupils, teachers and lionald Crawshaw of Almonte Public Schools; Employees of Thoburn Woollen Mills; Menders of Rosamond Woolen Mill, Trinity United Church and the Peterson Ice Cream Co. 

Among the many floral offerings received by the Lyons family were pieces from the Almonte Boy Scout Troop; Almonte Branch 240 Canadian Legion; Employees, I Almonte Public Utilities CommisI sion; Almonte Public Utilities Commission; Almonte Fire Brigade; the Menders, Rosamond Woolen Mill; Almonte Rosamond Memorial Hospital Medical Board; Nursing Staff, Rosamond Memorial Hospital; Employees Thoburn Woollen Mills; Mr. and Mrs. Jas. Brown and Employees of Strathbum Dairy; Producers Dairy Ltd.; Producers Dairy, Local 12, Almonte; Mr. Ernie Bigelow, Lines & Cables Accessories; Mr. A. S. Robb, Munderloh & Co., Ltd; Stedmans Store; The Women’s Card Club; Carleton Place. Chums 21; Carleton Place Chums 3; The Neighbours and the Peterson Ice Cream Co.

As so often happens in drowning accidents, the two boys were good swimmers but the icy water apparently was too much of a shock to them when they were thrown out of the canoe. When found the light aluminum craft was floating in an upright position. There is some difference of opinion, as to whether it would right itself if it had capsized. The fact that two pairs of rubber boots were in the canoe when it was found would lend credence to the theory that the craft didn’t turn over.

 It may be that one boy lost his balance and was thrown out and the other jumped in to save him. There were no witnesses to the accident and no one will ever know exactly what happened. Almonte Gazette May 1950

related reading

Joseph Wooldridge Phillip Low- Near Drowning 1963


Debbie Dixon and The CPR Bridge Incident in Carleton Place–Linda’s Mailbag

What Happened on the CPR Railway Bridge?

About lindaseccaspina

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

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