- Reg. # 409, Sub Constable George MAHONEY
June 19, 1877 – Battleford, North West Territories Age: Unknown
Much of the information that would normally be available on Cst. George MAHONEY was destroyed in the fire that damaged the West Block of the Parliament Buildings in 1897. However; we do know that George MAHONEY was formerly a farmer who joined the NWMP on the promise of receiving a government land grant of 160 acres upon completion of his service. He married Emma Ballendine in the spring of 1873 at St. Pauls, Selkirk County, Manitoba. He was engaged with the NWMP at Winnipeg on May 3, 1875. He and his wife moved into barracks at Battleford in 1876. He served slightly over two years with the Force before a fatal accident took his life.
On June 19, 1877, a number of NWMP were working their way from Battleford towards Fort Walsh along the Red Deer River. Clumping along behind the mounted police were a number of supply wagons pulled by teams of horses under the charge of Cst. MAHONEY and scout, Goodwin Marchand. When they reached the bank of the South Saskatchewan, the mounted riders crossed the river first and rode on ahead, leaving the wagon train to cross on its own. The teamsters found the ford awash and too deep for their wagons. They decided to use a flat boat to effect their crossing. When the boat tipped in mid-stream, both Mahoney and his companion were thrown into the water with their horses and wagon. Initially; they were not concerned, because they found themselves in fairly shallow water only a short distance below the regular fording place. But very quickly, the scout discovered that the river bottom beneath their feet was treacherously soft with quick-sand and he immediately flung himself prostrate in the shallow water and began to swim ashore. MAHONEY, who was a big man at six feet and 200 pounds, tried to wade his way to the bank, but quickly became mired in the muck. The more he tried to struggle and wriggle free, the deeper he sank. In desperation, he tried to make himself lighter by stripping to the waist – throwing away his clothes, his revolver, his gun belt. The scout, MARCHAND had made it to shore and was trying to find a rope or a branch that he could throw out to MAHONEY to help save him. But, by now, the Mountie was trapped up to his mid-section in the sucking sand and his situation had become hopeless. As the scout watched helplessly, the doomed policeman continued to sink slowly into the river bed. After several hours, the water reached his shoulders and MAHONEY called out a verbal will to his companion. In his last moments, he uttered a prayer and raised his hand over his head as he slid under the surface of the water. His body was never recovered.
MAHONEY’s wife, Emma, was legally entitled to the 160 acre land grant her husband had been promised, but she passed away only seven years after his death. The MAHONEYs’ two orphaned children, John George and Maria, were sent to live with their maternal grandmother, Ann Ballendine, who in her need for assistance in raising the two children, was compelled to cash in the land grant for $160.00. (File reviewed on www.collectionscanada.gc.ca)