Brussels native receives Canadian Medal of Bravery for 2016 rescue
BY SHAWN LOUGHLIN
Last Friday, Brussels native Tim Harrison was one of 38 Canadians honoured by federal Governor General Mary Simon with a Medal of Bravery.
In February of 2016, Harrison and three other men saved the lives of two people suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning caused by a defective boiler in Mitchell. Harrison received word in 2018 that the four would be honoured for their bravery by the Governor General, but as plans progressed, so too did the COVID-19 pandemic and the ceremony was shelved for several years as a result.
On Friday, however, Harrison was one of 38 people honoured at Rideau Hall in Ottawa by Simon, just one day after the death of Queen Elizabeth II. Harrison’s wife Amber and his mother Julie and sister Patty Vandermeer, both of Brussels, were all able to attend the ceremony and see Tim awarded.
“On Feb. 22, 2016, Andrew Daub, Daryl Eckert, Tim Harrison and Trevor Vanderhyden rescued two people suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning caused by a defective boiler in Mitchell, Ontario. First on the scene, Mr. Eckert found one of the victims in a semi-conscious state. Mr. Harrison then arrived and helped Mr. Eckert carry the man out of the building,” reads the Governor General’s website. “Responding to a radio call about the situation, Mr. Daub and Mr. Vanderhyden arrived at the gas-filled building and ran up to the second level, where they found the other victim foaming at the mouth. Strapping him to a wheeled office chair, Mr. Daub and Mr. Vanderhyden rolled the second victim to the top of the stairs and, with Mr. Harrison’s help, carried him to safety.”
In an interview with The Citizen, Tim said the awards ceremony whole experience at Rideau Hall was amazing, though it took on a rather solemn note with news of the Queen’s death in the air. He said it was a very moving experience that was tough to comprehend at the time, taking a few days to sink in fully, especially when considering the gravity of the Queen’s death in the context of the Governor General’s role in Canada and the historical significance of being awarded by Canada’s first-ever Indigenous Governor General.
He said having his wife, mother and sister all there to support him was amazing. Tim would have liked to have his four children with him at the ceremony, but seeing his mother there to support him was something he says he’ll never forget.
Speaking of that fateful day in 2016, Tim said a lot of what he did had to do with instinct. He said he never really considered his life as he and the other three men were in the building, but rather focused on doing what was necessary to get these two people to safety.
He said he couldn’t even really chalk up some of the decisions he made that day to any kind of teaching or training, that a certain level of human nature kicked in and that he and the other three men did what was necessary to save the lives of the two people in the building.
In 2018, when he received the call from the Governor General’s office, Tim thought it was nice that he and the others would be recognized, but it wasn’t until his mother Julie did some research and spoke to him, saying that the medal had only been awarded to about 3,200 people in the country that the importance of the honour really sunk in.
In an interview with The Citizen, Julie said she was so impressed with the level of importance of the ceremony and how well the winners and guests were all treated by the Governor General’s office. She said it was amazing to see Rideau Hall and both the ceremony and the following meal were both excellent.
She said she was filled with pride to see her son honoured in such a way, but she was also humbled by hearing the stories of the other Canadians who were being recognized for their life-saving efforts.
Patty felt the same way, saying that numerous Medals of Bravery were awarded to parents and spouses of people who saved someone’s life, but weren’t able to save themselves. Seeing that level of sacrifice was truly touching, she said. As for her brother, Patty said she couldn’t be more proud of him for what he did.
For a full list of Friday’s Medal of Bravery recipients and descriptions of their heroic acts, visit the Governor General’s website at gg.ca and search for “Decorations of Bravery” to read about the winners of the Medals of Bravery and the Stars of Courage.