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Canoeing trip ends in disaster

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Issue: 21 Section: Ottawa Geography: Ontario ottawa

August 25, 2004

Canoeing trip ends in disaster

by Jane Scharf

When news that Marshal Miner-a carrier at The Dominion-lost his cousin Rob Fowler in a canoeing accident, fellow carriers were struck with deep sadness. The two men were on a canoe trip involving three busloads of participants organized by Centre 454 drop-in for a group of homeless men and women.

In tears, Miner described how his cousin Rob Fowler, a 26-year-old homeless man, drowned when their canoe capsized on Lake Philippe in Gatineau Park on July 27th at 1:45 p.m.

"After we went out the wind came up and started rocking the boat and we went over the side." Miner said. They had been out on the water for about 45 minutes. They were both panicking and tried to swim to the shore, but it was too far. Then they tried to swim back to the overturned canoe. By this point, they were about 20 minutes from the shore of Breton Beach.

"I made it back," said Miner, "but Rob had trouble keeping his head above water. I think he went under two or three times and got water in his lungs. I tried to grab Rob but I couldn't reach him."

Shortly after the spill an employee from Centre 454 arrived to try and help the men but was unable to help Rob.

"This was such a tragedy," Miner said sadly, "because things were looking up for Rob. He was going to move into his own apartment in Centretown today. He was a really good guy."

Two carriers, Marshal's sister Tammy Gillet and Homeless Action Strike Organizer Andre Brisebois both requested a note of condolence from the Dominion to Rob's family and friends and especially to Marshal who is very disturbed by the loss of his dear cousin.

Rob moved to Ottawa from Fredericton, N.B. about four years ago and was well known around Ottawa streets. He was living at the Shepard's of Good Hope on the day of the accident.

Both men had life jackets with them in the boat but didn't have time to put them on before the boat turned over.

Police continue to look for the body and the National Capital Commission has closed the beach until further notice.

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The Dominion is a monthly paper published by an incipient network of independent journalists in Canada. It aims to provide accurate, critical coverage that is accountable to its readers and the subjects it tackles. Taking its name from Canada's official status as both a colony and a colonial force, the Dominion examines politics, culture and daily life with a view to understanding the exercise of power.

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