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‘Leo’s big claim to fame’: Bear fur hats for the Queen’s guards at Buckingham Palace

This week’s look back at Timmins history brings us to the late 1950s, and a Timmins connection to the Queen’s Buckingham Palace Guards.

Timmins Museum director-curator Karen Bachmann says the mayor of the town of Timmins at the time – Leo Del Villano – heard that the bear fur hats worn by the guards were getting mangy looking.

“So Leo thought ‘what a great gift for the Queen.  I’m going to organize a bear hunt’, organized a bear hunt in 1959 to go and bag some bears, send the skins off to London,” Bachmann recounts.  “He accomplished this.  He actually did it.  The Queen actually accepted.”

“Leo and his wife were invited to lunch with the Queen.  So he and another couple from Timmins actually went over, had lunch with the Queen, she was very grateful, thanked them profusely for the new hats, and that’s Leo’s big claim to fame.”

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