Quick Links

Banner Photo Info



Willard Rooney

A Heroic Rescue

by Basil Kealey

I, as a young boy lived in Venosta, Quebec. In about 1947-48 the outdoor ice rink was open and a snow storm with rain had fallen. My brother Ralph and two other young lads, Elmer O'Connor and Rolly Huneault, and I decided to skate across the field from the ice rink to a small lake called Rice's sinkhole. (It was generally acknowledged that the C.P R. when constructing the Ottawa-Maniwaki railline tried to build a trestle or bridge across this lake, however stopped as no bottom was found.) When we started skating on the north tip of this lake, my brother and I skated across first and made it to the other side. Elmer and Rolly went next and when halfway across the ice broke and they went into the water. They were some 25-30 feet from shore. They managed to grab on to a jutting log. Elmer was on top and Rolly managed to hang on to Elmer, with his head almost below the water. When I seen what happened, I immediately skated across the field some 3/4 mile away to get help. It so happened that Willard Rooney was passing on the highway in an open sleigh and a team of horses. I informed him what happened and he grabbed a long rope he just happened to have on the sleigh and he and I went in a hurry back to the lake. He rescued both Elmer and Rolly by throwing the rope out to them.

To my mind, Willard Rooney is a real hero. Willard Rooney was a fine step dancer and a good fastball umpire. I moved away from the Gatineau and Venosta when I was 12 years or so and lost touch with Willard. I know he worked at the Airport in Ottawa and died rather young. I just happened upon your site as I was looking-up Genealogy in the Martindale-Venosta area and thought I would tell you about a "Rooney" hero.