Drowning victim had ‘a huge heart filled with compassion and love’

First responders have recovered the body of 61-year-old Clarence Hale from a lake in South Frontenac Township, southeast of Sharbot Lake. Hale had been fishing with his wife, Shirley, on Saturday, Jul. 18, 2020 when their canoe capsized.

The couple were on an unnamed lake in the area of Bob’s Lake, near Rainbow Lane and Greenbay Road. Hale had reportedly been attempting to reel in a fish when the canoe tipped.

Members of the Frontenac Detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) and South Frontenac Fire and Rescue responded to the call just before 6:30 p.m. on Saturday night. Hale’s wife had safely made it to shore.

Hale had not been wearing a life jacket when the canoe capsized, and could not be immediately located. Hale was reportedly a strong swimmer, and friends and family were puzzled that he did not to make it to shore. Recovery efforts were delayed Saturday due to a thunderstorm. Members of the OPP Underwater Search and Recovery Unit located his body late Sunday afternoon.

‘A huge heart’

Hale was a verger, or official custodian, at St. James Anglican Church in Kingston, for 31 years. The parish priest, Andrew Chisholm, described Hale as “a remarkable man.”

“Clarence was a man with a huge heart filled with compassion and love,” Chisholm said. “He always had a kind word to say and would normally be the first person anyone would meet coming into the church building.”

Outside the church, Chisholm said Hale had “a real ministry to the people,” helping those struggling with addiction.

“Many many people point to Clarence as the one who saved their life from the scourge of addiction,” Chisholm said.

At the church, Chisholm described Hale as the glue that kept the community together through good times and bad. “His calm demeanor and great faith in God enabled him to see others as God saw them,” Chisholm said. “He called many of us to higher ground. He has left a huge hole in the fabric of our faith community.”

Hale was also proud of his Mi’kmaq heritage, and would often visit is family at the Mi’kmaq community at Pictou Landing, Nova Scotia, Chisholm said.

“It is sad that he had to die during this time of COVID-19 as he deserved
a church overflowing with people to honour his remarkable life,” Chisholm added.

Samantha Butler-Hassan, Local Journalism Initiative

Samantha Butler-Hassan is a staff writer and life-long Kingston resident. She is a news junkie and mom who loves reading and exploring the community. This article has been made possible with the support of the Local Journalism Initiative.

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