Belvie Meehan was my aunt. She died of dyptheria when she was just 18 years old, in 1926. I never knew the details of her death until a few years ago. But I did know it cast a shadow on the family for many many years.
A couple of years ago, my cousin mentioned that Belvie had been in an ice boat and the boat hit open water. Belvie and her friends fell in the icy water. She contracted dyptheria and died a month after the accident.
I decided to do some research and see if I could find her obituary and any details that might have been published at the time. The story was reported in both the Toronto Star and Globe & Mail Newspapers. It was front page news.
The headline from the Toronto Star, Front Page on Thursday February 18, 1926 reads:
ICE- BOAT CARRYING FOUR GLIDES INTO OPEN WATER ONE OF PARTY DROWNED.
According to the article 2 young men and 2 young ladies borrowed a friend's ice-boat and went sailing on Toronto Bay. They made a semi circle around the bay looking for "fast" ice, but they hit open water instead. The boat tipped over and they all went into the frigid February water of Lake Ontario. One of the men Reginald Helston drowned. The other man Carl Crockett got the two girls, Belvie Meehan and Mabel Hescott back in the boat. They shouted for help, but there was no one to hear them. Carl Crockett then got himself on solid ice and went for help. Land was about a mile away. He managed to get to the Dominion Sugar warehouse at the foot of Bay Street to get help. Police and ambulance services were then called.
This took well over 45 minutes before the girls could be rescued and a search for Reginald Helston could be started.
Belvie and the other 2 were taken to hospital. The two girls were released and Mr. Crockett was kept for several days with pneumonia.
Belvie developed dyptheria and never recovered, she died March 19, 1926. There was a private funeral and she is buried in Mount Hope Cemetery, in Toronto.