Prof-pioneered perennial polar plunge proves popular

Prof-pioneered perennial polar plunge proves popular
(Photo : William Crooks)

By William Crooks

Local Journalism Initiative

As the clock struck 10 a.m. on Jan. 1, retired Bishop’s Professor Stephen Sheeran led a growing crowd of intrepid souls into the icy embrace of Lake Massawippi. This annual ritual, a polar plunge started nearly two decades ago by current Bishop’s Professor Carleton Monk, has transformed from a frosty personal challenge into a cherished community event, drawing residents and holiday visitors alike into the chilly waters to mark the new year with a shared, shivering thrill.

“He’s the original ice man,” said Monk referring to Sheeran, “everybody else runs in and runs out.” Sheeran goes in and comes out slowly as if taking a bath, Monk added with a chuckle.

The two have been taking the 10 a.m., Jan. 1, polar plunge at North Hatley’s public beach for around 20 years. In the year 2000, there was hardly any snow and the temperature was mild, Monk remembers. He decided, to ring in the new year, “to go for a little swim”. Three or four years later, Sheeran learned of Monk’s newly-forged tradition and chose to join him. For many years thereafter, it was often just the two of them, though sometimes their children would participate. Around 10 years ago, the tradition began to snowball until dozens started showing up.

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