Who was Ann Harvey?
The story of teenage heroine Ann Harvey and her trusty Newfoundland dog, Hairy Man, is well known throughout the Southwest Coast of Newfoundland and Labrador.
After the brig “Despatch” foundered on the rocks near Isle aux Morts, it was the Harvey family, led by father George, who rescued 163 people.
Ann was 17 years old, and Hairy Man repeatedly swam a rope out to the passengers clinging precariously to a rock while being pounded by the surf. Ten years later in 1838, the family made another daring rescue of 25 people from a Glasgow ship, the “Rankin.”
By then 27 year old Ann had become a mother, and would eventually have eight children with her husband, Charles Gillam.
Ann was subsequently named the “Grace Darling of Newfoundland”, an honour bestowed by the British Empire upon a heroine in each of their colonies. She died in 1860 at age 49.
Today her heroic legend lives on in her hometown’s annual celebration that bears her name – Ann Harvey Days. A coast guard ship has been named for her, and the Isle aux Morts Theatre Festival has featured plays about her life and the tragedy of the Despatch.