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Newfoundland family still looking for missing brother Andrew Canning of Bridgeport

Tony Canning, left, and Maxine Boyde are siblings of Andrew Canning, who has been missing since late May. The family hopes someone will come forward with information to help them find their brother.
Tony Canning, left, and Maxine Boyde are siblings of Andrew Canning, who has been missing since late May. The family hopes someone will come forward with information to help them find their brother. - Nicholas Mercer

BRIDGEPORT, N.L. - The air inside Andrew Canning's Bridgeport home is cold and stale in early September.  

Canning
Canning

Sun spills into the modest two-bedroom bungalow through the kitchen and living room windows as the front door opens and Andrew's siblings Tony Canning and Maxine Boyde step inside. 

The space feels empty as the pair move from the foyer into the main living area, past four hanging coats and a pair of boots. 

An open Bible rests on the table in front of the chair at the head of the kitchen table. A small picture marks the spot where Andrew presumably ended his latest scripture reading — Micah Chapter 6, Verse 1 — before leaving his house for the day.  

His clothes are still in his bedside dresser, a cowboy hat remains in the top of the closet, and the shelf above his toilet holds a can of shaving cream and toilet paper.  

On that dresser, a radio and a stack of CDs topped by the Ally McBeal soundtrack lies next to two pill bottles holding the medication Andrew used to control his schizophrenia.  

Entering the room, Maxine grabs for the plastic pill organizer and takes note of the days without the allotted medication. 

“He took his pills for Monday and Tuesday. That’s when he went missing,” Maxine said pointing at the space for Tuesday’s pills. 

Daily medication for the rest of the week remain.

Her voice trembles with emotion.

It's been close to 114 days since their 70-year-old brother Andrew went missing on May 28. 

An intelligent person 

The middle of nine children, Andy was a curious youngster.  

He’d spend his time crawling around the family home his father built in Bridgeport. In winter he'd play hockey when the bay froze just a couple of feet from his father’s fishing stage. 

Summer was ball season. 

He was smart, too. Andrew went through school and was a teacher for a short time in the community of Horwood. An avid storyteller, he could always light up a room with one of the hundreds of stories he had. Like the one about Leonard Jones' time on a vessel upon the Labrador. 

Later in life, he served as the family’s memory bank, so to speak. He had immense knowledge of the family’s history. 

He was kindhearted and his family members never heard him say anything negative about another person. 

“If there was going to any one of us to be a lawyer, Andy was going to be it,” said one of his older brothers, Harvey Cannning, from his home in Cambridge, Ont. He spent six weeks in Bridgeport when his brother went missing.    

Walking as therapy 

After working as a teacher, Andrew moved to Ontario looking for work for several years. There, he developed a substance abuse problem that had caused him some cognitive troubles upon his return to Newfoundland. 

Despite those mental health issues, Andrew had woven himself into the fabric of his hometown. 

He received treatment for his issues and appeared to be functioning normally, although there were times he seemed restless.  

He started walking everywhere and it became therapeutic for him. It was a way to quiet his mind for hours. 

Often, he hitchhiked — although lately, he had given that up — and took rides when offered him. He wasn’t one to stray from the road and into the woods. 

When he was last seen, Andrew was walking on the road out of Valley Pond. 

“I live in Twillingate and everywhere I go, I can see Andy,” said Tony. 

Andrew turned 70 in January of this year. His family threw him a big party at the family home and all of his siblings were there. 

Dressed in a suit, Maxine noted he looked like the Prime Minister. 

They pinned a big Happy Birthday button on his suit and had cake. Andrew was excited. 

There was an evangelist service that night and he was looking forward to attending when his party was finished. 

He wore that big button to church that evening. 

An open Bible sits on the kitchen table in the empty home of Andrew Canning.
An open Bible sits on the kitchen table in the empty home of Andrew Canning.

“He looked so proud that night,” said Maxine. 

Nothing new 

The family had a recent meeting with the Twillingate RCMP looking for an update on Andrew’s case. 

The police said they were still following up on some leads but had no new information to share. 

"The file remains open and active at this time with police continuing to follow up on any leads,” an RCMP spokesman told The Central Voice via email. 

Hope flared when the family heard reports of a non-verbal elderly gentleman found recently in Ottawa. His description matched Andrew’s and if he was off his meds, there was also a chance he would be non-verbal. 

The family called, but it wasn’t their brother. 

They will continue to look for their brother. A part of them has become resigned to the possibility he may be dead, but there is hope he is still alive. 

No matter the outcome, closure is what they seek. 

“We’re not giving up on this,” said Tony. 

Taking his calls

There was always a phone call from Andrew. 

Every night, he called. Most nights it came between 9 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Each night, Maxine’s phone would ring at her home in Conception Bay South and it would be her brother on the other end. 

He wanted to talk to his mother, who lives with his sister, and wish her goodnight. 

The call could come at 11:30 p.m. after a stroll around the area or at 3:30 a.m. like the time Andrew had walked home in a snowstorm.

The phone hasn’t rung since May 28. 

“He always called,” said Maxine. “He was never anyone to sleep somewhere else. 

“We want to know where our brother is.” 

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