George Andrews-Reid 1886-1973
by Wm. T. Quinton~Bartlett -Nephew 2002
George Andrews was born to Levi and Susanna Andrews on May 05, 1886 at Ireland
Bight (Great Northern Peninsula). He had two brothers William and Noah; three sisters
Selina, Lottie and Fanny.
Uncle George Andrews was but a boy and very capable with a boat at 15 years old. As it
was on April 21, 1908 (Easter Sunday), he attended the church service, held by Dr.
Wilfred Grenfell, who had stopped at Locks Cove. The resident s of Ireland Bight
always moved to Locks Cove for the winter months. Grenfells intentions were to cross
Hare Bay, the largest bay on the eastern tip of the Great Northern Peninsula,
Newfoundland and to continue over land to Englee. He was on an emergency trip to
see a patient named Charlie Hancock.
" A forth night before the young man had been operated upon for acute bone disease of
the thigh, but when he was sent home the people had allowed the wound to close, and
poisoned matter had accumulated. The leg had to be removed, there was no time to be
lost." A Labrador Doctor 1919-W. Grenfell.
After Grenfell left Locks Cove the next morning he was warned that the ice was breaking
up and that a big sea was on, he was not to travel across Hare Bay but to go around.
Nat Dawe and Levi Reid had concluded that if the sea conditions continued, they would
loose the 800 seal pelts that was hauled on the shore line, after the previous days hunt.
So every man and boy available in Locks Cove, was rounded up to haul the pelts further
up the shoreline, away from the treacherous seas. It was a full days job, so a lunch was
taken. By the time that the Dawe and Reid men and boys arrived, the sea had already
began its pilfer of the pelts. It took the entire day but most of the pelts had been
salvaged and pulled to higher ground.
After the work was finished Levi Dawe decided to climb the near by 50 foot cliff, to see if
there were seals on the breaking ice, if so they would try and launch a punt and hunt
them the next morning. Scanning the ice flow, not a seal could be located and has he
scanned the bottom of the bay, his eye caught a movement that looked more like a man
than a seal. The only conclusion that could be made was that the object was Dr.
During the lateness of the evening a plan was formulated to try and reach the English
doctor who was drifting out the bay on a crumbling pan of ice, with only his dogs for
warmth and food. A crew of five was selected to man the boat. They were George Reid,
his sons Bill and Levi; Nat Dawe son Levi and young George Andrews who volunteered. He
was short and small but strong from working hard at fishing and logging. George was
given the task of overseeing and assisting the 'two' Levi's and Bill to get the boat and
As Nath Dawe and George Reid were completing their process on assessing the wind
force; its actions upon the fragile ice and its directions and the temperature; planning
the rescue of their beloved doctor and friend, George Andrews came to report that, "he
and the boys had got the boat up, and out of the snow, and are getting her ready, she's
in good shape, and were going to have to borrow paddles."
The most important search and rescue mission ever assembled on the Great Northern
Peninsula, was in a 'black' punt, managed by two adults, two young men and a boy.
There was a big sea and the ice was moving about in a frenzied manner; it was severely
cold for the temperature was hovering over the -20 degrees F (-29 C). There wasn't a
cloud in the sky and the moonbeams bounced of the ice and water that was being stirred
up by the tides, there was 'barely a breath of wind".
Uncle George relates...
"At 5 am , the rescue group gathered at George Reids house and a map of Hare Bay was
placed on the kitchen table. Again the situation was assessed . The ice carrying the
stranded doctor had moved to the mouth of the bay. There wasn't a breath of wind and
it was the tides that had moved the heavy ice out of the bay into the ocean. The boat
would have to be hauled out over, heavy, fast moving ice. They agreed that no risk was
to great, to attempt the rescue of the doctor, who had probably already frozen to death
in his 'football ' clothes. They stood to attend the business at hand, but before they
moved Aunt Rachel Reid stopped them. She asked them to bow their heads and she
asked God' protection for the rescuers and the doctor.
There was a commotion as all the settlers gathered and the dogs made noise in their
canine fashion, the sounds of the uneasiness reverberated of the cliff's. 'George Reids
black punt' was moved across the ice by 20 men and then launched in a stream of water,
among pieces of ice, rolling on the surface by the sea. Rowing through slob, and many
times the boat had to be hoisted out of the water and hauled a field of ice and launched
again, but at these times there were only five persons to do this task. By this time the
boat was leaking badly for it had been rammed continuously by pieces of swiftly moving
Finally, George Reid shouted out " I see -'s -'em boys".
The men kept rowing and bailing the water from the punt as they headed towards a black
cluster on the shimmering ice. Eventually George Reid cries out again, "yes! 'Tis 'em,
boys, for I sees him waving a flag."
"What a sight," Uncle George related to his nephew Bill, in 1959, I've never beheld
anything like it! Didn't seem like it was the doctor, he looked so old and his face was an
odd color. He hardly had on any clothes; there was blood all over him; and he stood in
his bloodied dog skins. The stench from the dog carcasses, which he had killed for food
and clothes, was enough to make one sick. He stood in the midst of a bunch of dogs,
and this strange uniform he wore, with numbers on it (His school football jersey.), was
strange looking clothes for a doctor to be wearing. Dr. Grenfell just stood there as if
immobilized, he was helped into the boat. They all placed their arms around him and cried
like children, they wrapped him blankets and placed him in the stern of the churning boat,
and took the dogs on board. He wanted the pole, he had fashioned from dog bones, skins
and carcasses. Already assured that he would survive, he wanted his props, for the next
speaking tour, to raise finances for the Mission."
Uncle George Andrews treasured the pocket watch that was given to him, following the
rescue. It has been inscribed with the words "In memory of April 21st., 1908."
Uncle George was married to Charlotte Victoria Boyd and they had only one child, Ed
(Ned) Andrews, born Sept. 28, 1909 who married Susan Rendell, in 1938. When Victoria
Andrews died Uncle George married his house keeper, Rachel Andrews, born
Southern Bay, BB, in 1908 -1992.
Shortly after the rescue of Sir Wilfred he and his brothers moved permanently to St.
Anthony and became members of the Legion of Frontiersmen, a quasi-military
organization of which a local branch was started by Dr. A . W. Wakefield of the
International Grenfell Mission. They had their own fishing crews and rooms. He had a
general store until his first wife died. Then He worked for Bowater's as a carpenter.
There he got steel wool in his eyes and totally lost his eye sight.
He was a gentle man filled with humor, wit and music. On his property there was fishing
rope strung everywhere. These he would use to guide him around his stores, wharf and
the chopping block where he cleaved his fire wood. Every dance you could see Aunt
Rachel leading Uncle George; He with the button accordion tucked under neat his arm, of
to play music for the dance, where ever it may be. His radio was his friend and he kept it
on a shelf over the daybed where he rested. Since I lived with them for periods of time I
would observe him listening to Wilf Doyle and others play a new piece of music. After
the piece was finished he would pick up is accordion and play an exact rendition. He
would say, "shucks! Billy boy that's a great song to play at the CLB [Church Lads
Brigade-estb. Nfld in 1882]." He used "shucks" in every sentence."
He never once complained about being blind, and he compelled every new person that he
met to come near him so he could put his hands on their face to see what they looked