"Family was here maybe 10 minutes after the discovery," said Sgt. Louis-Philippe Ruel, a Quebec provincial police spokesman, adding that other relatives and friends clustered around to offer comfort.
"Upton is such a small place. Everybody knows everybody. We made sure that they were surrounded by people who loved them and cared for them."
The body of Maxime Dion, 6, was found in the water on Friday, 400 metres from the spot where he slipped from his older brother's grasp on Monday and disappeared into the churning water.
Ruel said the discovery of the dead child also hit the search teams hard.
"Everybody was pretty emotional," he said of the police, search-and-rescue workers and firefighters, who came from several communities.
"Everybody was working hard, nobody counted the hours. Everybody made sure those persons would have a certain peace of mind before Christmas."
Dion was playing with his older brother and another boy on the frozen surface of the river late Monday afternoon when the ice cracked beneath him.
His older brother, the friend, and the friend's dog tried pulling him out of the water as he struggled.
The dog also slipped into the water and drowned.
A massive search of the river, which is 80 kilometres east of Montreal, and the surrounding shoreline was launched. A provincial police helicopter swept the rural area from above and crews probed the ice and the river on the ground.
Ruel said the search was "pretty extensive and pretty intense."
Two boots — one belonging to the dead boy and the other to his brother — surfaced the next day, Tuesday. The dog's body was found on Wednesday.
An ice-breaking boat was also brought in to help the efforts of searchers.
"We knew that some cold time was coming upon us," Ruel said. "They were talking about -17 for the next night. We knew that we had to use the time that we had as efficiently as we could so that's why we had three diver teams here today."
Besides provincial police and local police, divers from the RCMP and Montreal police also helped in the search.
"Everybody had in mind that we had a limited time to do the search and that we had to be pretty intense about it."
(By Nelson Wyatt in Montreal)