Foursome save moose from drowning on Manitou Lake


Isabel Mosseler


It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for four local men when, on Thursday, December 27th, north of River Valley, they rescued a cow moose from drowning in Manitou Lake. Shawn Duquette of Verner exclaimed, “It was definitely something! We were at the right place at the right time.” The other three men were Jean-Yves Paquette and André Roberge of Verner, and Scott “Scottie” Simmons of Sturgeon Falls. “The four of us spent the first half of the day snowmobiling and we had just gotten back, taking our helmets off, and our buddy Jean-Yves, his wife came over. She heard from a couple of guys ‘Hey! A moose fell in the lake just up the road!” Three of the snowmobilers, Duquette, Paquette and Roberge, all have camps in the vicinity, and Simmons was staying with Duquette. “So, we went to take a look and happened to have a chain saw with us. We ran back and grabbed another chain saw and some rope – and did what we had to do!”

That included climbing down a cliffside onto the ice, fixing a rope around the cow’s head, and carving a channel in the ice with their chain saws. Duquette continued, “That was the plan we were working on — cut a channel and try to get the moose to get on ice that was thicker. When we first got there, she would put her leg up and would just break through the ice underneath, so she couldn’t get herself up.” He added that area of the lake has a depth of 80 feet. “We were trying to a) either get her onto thicker ice or b) get her close enough to touch the bottom along shore and get herself out.” But the moose, who initially appeared exhausted, surprised them. “Things changed about half way when we got to the thicker ice. She startled us all! Two guys were still cutting the channel. My buddy Scott was keeping her calm, had a rope around her neck to hold her in place. Then she got one leg up. I saw the other leg coming up and ran over to help Scottie out. A couple of pulls and up she came!” 

Duquette estimated the moose had been in deep water for at least an hour-and-a-half. “She was definitely swimming!” Initially two men spotted her on the lake, then she went through. The rescue team got to her about half an hour later. “When we first got there, we could see where she was trying to get up and breaking the ice with her hooves. [Then] she just had her chin on the ice, and trying to hold herself there. She wasn’t even fighting at that point anymore.”  It took about an hour to get her out. “Well, she got herself out with a little bit of help,” said Shawn Duquette, marvelling at her final show of strength. When she got one leg out onto the ice, Shawn and Scott gave her the pull she needed. “She was pretty tired. When she got out, she didn’t stand up right away, she kind of was on her knees taking a breather.”

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