Leo Patrick Powell EM

b. 23/01/1889 Tracadie, Prince Edward Island, Canada. d. 23/10/1967 Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

DATE OF EM ACTION: 26/06/1915 Bow River, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Leo P Powell EM

Leo was the sixth of ten children born to Daniel James and Mary Jane Powell (nee McCarthy) on 23rd January 1889 in Tracadie, Prince Edward Island. Tragically, his father died when he was only 6, and his mother was left to raise the large family alone. On the 8th June 1908, Leo married Olive Ellis in Cranbrook, British Columbia, and they had seven children of their own. Leo was an iron worker by trade, and on 26th June 1915 was employed to help build a bridge over the Bow River, near Calgary. Leo lived in Calgary for the remainder of his life, dying on 23rd October 1967 aged 78. He was buried in Queens Park Cemetery, Calgary with his wife, who predeceased him in 1953.



On the 26th of June, 1915, while the Bow River, Calgary, Alberta, was in flood, a hundred-foot steel span was washed loose from a bridge in course of construction. A man named Garden was upon this span, and was precipitated into the water, which was icy cold. He managed to get hold of a baulk of timber, to which he clung. McDonald and Powell put off to the rescue in a small boat, which was used in connection with the building of the bridge. No other boats were available, as the river is too dangerous for boating, even when not in flood. They had to cross a dangerous rapid, and also to avoid collision with logs which were coming down the river in large numbers, and timber from the broken bridge. Had they been capsized they would almost certainly have been drowned, as they wore heavy hip rubber boots. They reached Garden, though he had been washed nearly a quarter of a mile down the river. He was at that time nearly unconscious owing to the coldness of the water. It was too dangerous to take him aboard the boat, and they, therefore, tied a rope round him and secured it to the boat. All three were carried about a mile and a quarter down the river, when McDonald and Powell managed to steer the boat to an island. There can be no doubt that McDonald and Powell incurred very great danger in performing this brave rescue.