Hairy Man: Swims Through Raging Waters to Save Lives

Hairy Man became famous in history for helping his family rescue survivors of a shipwreck during a storm in the early 1800s.

On June 3, 1828, the 100 foot sailing vessel Dispatch, carrying approximately 200 immigrants and 11 crew members, departed Ireland and headed for Quebec. On the evening of July 10, the ship struck submerged rock and dangerous shoals during a heavy storm with hurricane force winds near the Atlantic coast of Newfoundland. Two days later, fisherman George Harvey discovered supplies and driftwood along the beach, signs of a shipwreck nearby.

The following day, the weather had weakened enough for George,  his 17 year old daughter Ann, his 12 year old son Tom and their Newfoundland dog Hairy Man to set off in their small boat to search for survivors. They rowed through the wind, pouring rain and heavy surf for two hours before finding a large group of survivors clinging to the rocks on a small island three miles from shore. Because of the heavy waves, George could get no closer than 100 feet of the island so he sends Hairy Man into the water to create a lifeline. (By nature, Newfoundlands are water dogs. Their muscular build, thick double coat and webbed feet make them excellent swimmers in rough conditions.) The survivors were then able to follow the rope to the boat. For three days, the Harveys and Hairy Dog risked their lives bringing survivors to shore.

The Harveys and neighbors (on their remote island) nursed, clothed and fed the survivors until a ship was able to pick them up. According to a story published in the Acadian Recorder on August 2, 1828, 152 people survived.

The Harvey family was awarded a medal and large sum of money for their heroic acts. In 1838, George and Ann (no dog was mentioned) came to the rescue a second time saving 32 crew members from the Scottish merchant ship Rankin. In 1987, the Canadian Coast Guard commissioned a ship christened CCGS Ann Harvey.