Gooderham’s Marilyn Rowe plans to be front and centre during Sunday’s screening of Haliburton International Film Festival’s Brotherhood. Her uncle, Arthur H. Lambden, was one of only four survivors of the 1926 canoe tragedy on Balsam Lake that claimed the lives of 11.

Lambden was one of the camp directors who set out with the boys from the Brotherhood of St. Andrew’s in Toronto in a war canoe destined for Coboconk. However, a freak storm came up and capsized the boat.

Rowe said Lambden, who passed away in 1989 at the age of 92, “hated to talk about” the events of that harrowing day and night but did, and “it was a family conversation all the time, we always reflect on this.”

The Highlands East resident said she did her own research at Trinity College in Galt, Ontario and attended an 80th anniversary commemorative mass in Kirkfield in 2006. She also has her uncle’s memoirs, which detail the event, including them all hanging on to the gunwales.

“He told me he went under [the water] three times. The third time he saw St. Peter at the gate. He said, ‘I told him I did not want to enter’.” Rowe said Lambden struggled to find the courage to fight and survived.


According to a story in the Toronto Star at the time, Lambden is quoted as saying, “The boys dropped off one by one as their strength failed them. They went to their death without a whimper and to the last unselfishly trying to help the other fellow.”

Rowe said her uncle’s faith got him through the ordeal and his faith helped him in the aftermath of the tragedy for the rest of his life.

Rowe described her uncle as a “phenomenal person … he was a marvelous person all through his life.” She added “he was very athletic, and a brilliant person, who had been invited to go to Cambridge.”

She said she wants to see the film as, “I am interested to see how people who were not involved in it have taken on that story.”

In addition to Brotherhood – which is also being shown Saturday with director Richard Bell in attendance as well as some cast members – the lineup has another seven films over the Nov. 1-3 weekend.

Celebrating community

HIFF spokeswoman Tammy Rea said, “Sometimes we don’t know what the theme of HIFF is until we are half-way through, but this year it was quite clear. Through these seven films we are celebrating community – our community – our connection to each other, whether we are family, neighbours, or sharing a lake. Here, we are a community where a firefighter, EMS paramedic, or police officer has a good chance of knowing the person they are helping.”

Rea said they love hosting HIFF because it is an intimate journey through seven films with 220 of their closest friends.

“This year, as our patrons will see, Canadian films have come of age and we are excited to be showing four. The first is a comedy for the whole family and the last is a drama about recluses who enjoy living in nature. Antigone is Canada’s entry to the Oscars for best foreign language film, and Saturday night is a powerful drama about a canoe accident on Balsam Lake in 1926 that a lot are really looking forward to.”

She said the community theme will be obvious on screen and also in their lobby with the Lions Club providing snacks for the event.

“Stories move us with their intimacies and vulnerabilities. They help us empathize. HIFF has been a wonderful weekend full of a wide array of emotions and this just may be why people line up and want to be part of it,” Rea said.

For more on this weekend’s HIFF, see

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