Missing Saint John swimmer remembered as loving son

Paul Davis cared about his family, loved to read, play darts and work on computers, his mother said. (Saint John Police Force - image credit)
Paul Davis cared about his family, loved to read, play darts and work on computers, his mother said. (Saint John Police Force - image credit)

The mother of the swimmer who disappeared in Saint John on Saturday said he was a caring son and a loving father.

Searchers were unable to find the 57-year-old Paul Davis, who had gone to the Digby Ferry Terminal on Saturday and didn't return home that evening.

"He loved his family," said Carol Davis. "He had a good job in Yellowknife, and he left that job to be close by when my husband had MS."

Police described Paul as an avid swimmer, and his belongings were found on a beach near the terminal.

The search was called off on Sunday.

Had taken an interest in cold therapy  

Carol said Paul cared about his body and treated it well.

"He liked to stay away from sugar and flour because he felt healthier not eating it," she said.

After his disappearance, Carol said, she learned he had been reading a book about the Wim Hof Method, a central part of which is cold therapy.

Cold therapy is the practice of frequently exposing the body to cold temperatures for physical and cognitive health benefits. The Wim Hof website said this can be done through cold showers or ice baths.

Carol believes her son began going to the water after learning about the practice. She said getting some clarity on his thinking in a way helped her feel better.

"It just gives me a little bit of knowledge of why he would do it," she said. "He was stubborn that way. When he got something into his head, he would follow it."

Liked to read and play darts

Paul Davis is survived by his girlfriend and his 17-year-old daughter.

His mother said he would spend much of his time at home, where he liked to read and play darts. In his 20s, he competed in a national competition in the sport.

He liked fixing computers and worked in IT in Yellowknife before coming back to New Brunswick about 20 years ago. He would visit Carol at home, and she always knew when he'd be there.

"I knew when Paul was coming, because every time I made my spaghetti sauce, he must've had a sixth sense, he'd show up at the door," she said.

He was born in Saint John and his family moved around a little when he was a child, but also spent a while in Yellowknife.

At one point, the family lived next to a playground. There, Paul, his father and brother would play basketball together. Paul thought his dad played dirty, the brothers accused him of throwing his elbows.

"You were a dirty player," he would tease his father well after their games ended.

While in the North, Paul developed a love for hunting and fishing. His mother recalled that he once tipped out of his canoe, losing his paddle and bug protection. And he came home covered in bug bites after the wet walk.

Just before he disappeared, he had started in a new job.

He always had a soft spot for his family, she said.

"He was a caring, caring son."